Archive for the ‘Floppies Never Say Die (Joey Esposito)’ Category

Obama > Batman?

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Sure, the news is old by now, but we all know that the Amazing Spider-Man Obama variant cover sold like candy canes on Christmas, and subsequently saw a surge of insanely high bidding on eBay. Amazing Spider-Man #583 was just the latest in the long line of publicly sought issues, joining the illustrious ranks of Superman #75 and Captain America #25, with irregular readers lining up around blocks to guarantee their copy (anything less than a 1st Printing is unacceptable!). What’s interesting about this, is only a week later, one of the most iconic heroes of all time, “died”.

From dcbs

I put that in quotes, because most anyone reading this blog knows that Bats was hit with the Omega Sanction and will, ultimately, come back at some time down the line, one way or another. By all accounts, judging from the track record of iconic heroes dying in their books (Superman, Captain America), Final Crisis #6 should’ve been the next book to warrant mass hysteria of Obama proportions, but it didn’t. At all. There was no article on CNN; there was nothing about it anywhere, in fact, aside from the comics based news sites. Hell, even Pa Kent got a mention on the home page of CNN.

One would assume that this same public that went Obama crazy over the Spidey issue was, at least in part, the same public that made The Dark Knight the SECOND HIGHEST GROSSING FILM OF ALL TIME. Does this say that a.) the public does not see the film portrayal of the Batman character on the same level as his comic counterpart, or b.) the general public likes Spider-Man more than Batman, which means the rule of “option A” does not apply, as Spider-Man 3 was clearly a far less functional movie, or c.) America simply has a hard on for Obama (see also: Obama Trading Cards, Ojamas, Obamarella). I’m going to go with “option C”, or none of the above.

From dcbs

The reason that these same millions of people that buy Ojamas or snatch up dozens of the same issue featuring President Obama’s mug on the cover is not only because of the “collectible” stigma that still surrounds the medium, but a simple marketing error on the part of DC. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely do not support the influx of “readers” that comicdom garners when a major character kicks the bucket, as it does nothing to really help the industry other than give a certain publisher the number one book of the month. There are very few readers I’ve met that started reading at Superman #75 and have continued on to this day. However, making money is making money, and I think it was an error on DC’s part to not capitalize on the success of The Dark Knight (#2 OF ALL TIME) and push Batman’s death down everyones throats.The reason people did not line up around the block for Final Crisis #6 is NOT because his death didn’t take place in a Batman title (though, admittedly, “Batman RIP” did generate a bit of a buzz in the public forum, and perhaps the cliffhanger ending left people jaded). As we all know, people in general are like sheep; they will flock to wherever they are directed. That’s not a cynical statement in the least - we see proof of this in the fact that marketing even exists. The whole idea of marketing lies on the concept that you can make people think (or buy) what you want them to. The fact that DC did not really generate any buzz of its own in the mainstream press about FC #6 is the only reason I can fathom that Batman’s death did not generate an Obama-like craze, particularly in a year where The Dark Knight reigned supreme.As I said, I don’t approve of these “blockbuster” issues, as I’m selfish and they usually only lead to me having a hard time finding the next issue of a series I was already reading, impeded by people that are buying this book simply because of hype, and who will not continue reading. Hell, they might not even read the issue they buy! I’m not bitter, I’m simply longing for the day that the “general” public and “mainstream” news sources become one, and understand each other.

Also, The Dark Knight was shafted in the Oscars. But, that’s a whole new argument entirely.

Comic Blog Elite

Action Figures: En Vogue, Now or Ever?

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

The daily adventures of retail store shopping will never cease to amaze me. While comic books (in floppy form) are hard to come by in, dare I say it, “mainstream” retailers - you’ll occasionally find them in a grocery store or Borders- one other form of nerd entertainment, and a dear passion of mine, that is available nearly every store you go, is action figures. I love everything from Star Wars, to WWE, to bobbleheads. My current obsession is the DC Universe Classics line. They are freaking awesome. Their assortments are great, the package design is stellar, and the figures themselves are boss. However, that’s not the point.

As I said, retail store shopping experiences will never cease to amaze me. As anyone reading this would probably know, action figures can be found in many random places and often with great deals attached. Places like FYE, Walgreens, and, in the good old days, Tower Records often have figures that are fairly hard to find in major retailers, and sometimes for a super discounted price. Buying these same toys from an online retailer or specialty shop could run you three times as much. The point is, at least for me, when I start checking places like this along with a midnight run at Toys R’ Us, it’s hard to stop, and I end up wasting more gas than time.

As some may know, my ultimate goal is for the global social acceptance of comic books as a major player in the artistic/storytelling medium, in the eyes of the general public. While many of us already ‘in the know’ realize this, the outside world is still under some false impression that comics exist merely for children, which I’ve stated a thousand times before, simply isn’t true. And while we are still certainly making progress, I’m afraid that same progress may never be made for action figures. By all accounts, yes toys ARE for children. But with lines like Movie Masters and DC Universe Classics, both released by Mattel, who is notorious for not catering to collectors, things are looking up. However, it pains me to walk by a Long Island douchebag taking a gander at action figures hanging on the wall in Saturday Matinee, saying, quite sarcasitcally “Oh man, I can’t wait to bring this home to add to my collection!” as his prickish but slightly less d-baggy friend laughs, as though a.) that joke has never been told before in the history of the world, or b.) it’s completely absurd to assume people actually buy action figures. After all, they are being sold in the store, so they probably don’t ever sell.

I’m not a lonely nerd crying for acceptance. I have assimilated with society. I am social. And that’s what I’m getting to, most of us are. Most collectors, or comic book geeks or whatever, we all have real, productive lives and simply have a hobby. It’s no more of a hobby than watching sports or fixing cars. This particular hobby just has to come with perfect corners and unscuffed plastic, otherwise I don’t want it.

Who Watches the Watchmen? Hopefully, the Mindless Movie Going Public

Friday, November 14th, 2008
From dcbs

For as long as comics have existed, they’ve been labeled with this strange stigma that they are ‘just for kids’, or some sort of secondary artistic medium without any real level of merit. And while anyone that could possibly be reading this post knows differently, the fact is that majority of the ‘mainstream’ world still hold this idea as truth. Now, forget that Hollywood’s biggest (and seemingly, only) money makers right now are comic book properties. In the eyes of the general public, these characters are movie stars, not comic books.

Hell, I had a friend ask me the other day if they ‘actually still publish’ books like Superman and Spider-Man.

What?

This statement completely blew my mind. Blew my mind doesn’t even begin to cover it. It obliterated my skull and sucked my brain out and then subsequently was stretched across a thousand alternate dimensions. For a person that essentially lives and breathes comic books, it never truly hit me that this sort of question could even exist - but, there it was.

Of course, I politely answered and proceeded to do what I always do to a non true believer, which is to make them one. Of course, it’s difficult to get most people to launch full on into a superhero book. Generally, I start with something that has a definite end and is geared towards adults, like Y: The Last Man or Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. My reasoning for this is to prove to said subject that comics are indeed NOT a child’s medium, but rather capable of some of the most heart wrenching and mature thematic content in existence. The idea is to get the new reader embracing this idea, and then move backwards to the more mature superhero books - Bendis’ Daredevil, Morrison’s current Batman work, Frank Miller’s DC/Marvel stuff, and of course, Watchmen. Hopefully, these will launch my test subject into a downward spiral of weekly comic book buying. (Floppies, dammit!)

However, while I do get there eventually in my roundabout way of introducing people to comics, most people I know hand over Watchmen to skeptical comic book virgins. And this seems to be the major trend. In preparation for the upcoming film, my LCS has literally stockpiled Watchmen paperbacks, the assumption being that the near-guaranteed success of the film will bring new readers into shops either to buy the book after seeing the film, or to read it beforehand.

The buzz, for a long time, was truly exciting. Not just for me, personally, but for a film that might finally actually impact the comics industry in some way more significant than a few trade paperback sales. With Watchmen being the book that so many comic fans of today start out with, a good film (or good looking trailer) could feasibly increase sales of the book itself, and thus (hopefully) hooking a whole section of an unsuspecting public. While in the past the general statement has been that successful comic book movie franchises never translate into an increase in comic sales, this is the one instance where it could truly make an impact.

Maybe.

What leads me to second guess this is an experience I had recently at my local Stop & Shop. I was there getting a cheap pizza and a Mattel DC Universe Series 3 Deathstroke Unmasked Variant (yes, they carry variant DCU figures…) and as I was checking out, a younger fellow with bushy hair took notice of my purchase, and mentioned how he didn’t know who he was.

From dcbs

So naturally, I gave him the rundown and I told him he was a ‘badass’ and that this figure in particular was actually pretty hard to find, and I was surprised to find it here. This led to a natural conversation to the Watchmen movie, which is where the interesting part took place. He mentioned how he had bought the paperback edition to read it before the movie comes out, but how he felt ashamed going in to buy the book at the bookstore (similar to how one feels buying their first porno mag, I would imagine), and was also hiding it at home to escape ridicule from friends and family.

It took all I could muster to not turn into an irate anger machine. Instead, I told him, calmly, that he shouldn’t be hiding shit! It’s thinking like this that causes the secondary medium thinking I was talking about in the first place! So, I can only hope that my passionate display of enthusiasm for both Deathstroke and comic-pride in general have affected this boy in a way that he will no longer feel ashamed to enter a bookstore and buy a comic book. Nevermind the fact that Watchmen is indeed one of the most acclaimed novels of all time. He should have the freedom to go in and purchase a hardcover edition of Ultimate Spider-Man and not feel scorned. Of course, it is a book store, and chances are no one is scorning him anyway.

I can only hope that my predictions for the Watchmen film are correct. It’s not just a hope that the film succeeds, but I really feel that it’s a necessity for the industry to grow in readership. We need to set an example to the general film going public that maybe, just maybe, these films they are spending hundreds of dollars on a year didn’t originate on celluloid, but on bristol board.

Sarah Palin: Kinda Hot For a Republican…and a Comic Book?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Surely, everyone is sick of Sarah Palin’s hockey-Mom face. We are sick of Joe the Plumber and accusations of socialism against the Obama campaign. But guess what? According to recent polls, 75% of America is ’scared’ of the direction this country is headed in. While the story of what that remaining 25% is thinking is another post entirely, my point is that judging by these polls, and the assumption that the large population of America isn’t a complete idiot, I’m going to make an assumption here and say that the Democrats will be taking office in January. If this does happen, this means we are essentially guaranteed a significant drop in face time for McCain, and by association, Sarah Palin. At least, for us comic book nerds, until February.

That’s right. The same publisher that recently announced the arrival of Female Force: Hillary Clinton, Bluewater Productions, has released plans for issue #2, featuring on Governor/VP Nominee Sarah Palin. Interestingly, since the issue is being released in February, writer Neal Bailey (who is also writing Hillary Clinton) and penciller Patricio Carbajal (Quartermain) will have two different endings set for print, pending the outcome of the election on November 4th.

Bluewater apparently has plans to make Female Force an ongoing series, focusing on significant women players in modern history. Bluewater President Darren Davis tells Newsarama : “We are already looking at several candidates for our third biography. I think you will be surprised who we are leaning towards.”Bluewater’s goal is clearly to present nothing more than a factually accurate, unslanted presentation of their subjects, which I think is a brave move considering they could arguably achieve more success and garner more attention with a politically opinionated view. Nevermind that, but the nature of writing makes it difficult to achieve complete objectivity, particularly when something like the future of the country we live in is involved. Hell, just look at the first paragraph of this entry.

For all of the Alaskan irrelevance, inexperience, e-mail hacking, moose killing, and gun toting that Palin is getting media attention for, it can’t be denied that her nomination is indeed a significant moment in American history. I honestly believe that a woman President is the only thing that’s going to take America to where it needs to, and should, go. Sure, Palin isn’t it, but if the Republicans can have a female candidate, then hey, it’ll happen sooner or later. It remains to be seen if Bluewater’s next installment of Female Force will be politically themed, but my fingers are crossed for Tipper Gore.

How CNN and Mainstream News Media Just Ruined My Wednesday

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

All comics fans know that today was a big day. Seriously, there are so many good books being released this week. And this, WAS one of them:

Action Comics #870 had me pumped for releases this week. Among other things of course, but nothing is as satisfying to me than a phenomenal run on main-continuity Supes book. Suffice it to say, today the New York Daily News picked up on a major plot point in this issue, and published it. Then, more importantly, CNN.com (which I won’t link you to, because I don’t want this book getting ruined for you too) published said spoiler IN THEIR HEADLINE, with no warning what so ever. And, it was on the main page of the site, under the Entertainment banner. It’s not very entertaining if you know the ending, is it?

There are many things wrong with this situation, not the least of which is CNN’s obvious ignorance of their readers, thinking it’s completely okay to simply ruin a major part of a major storyline for thousands of fans. Yet, I can guarantee that had CNN ruined the ending of a novel or a film, the publisher/studios would be all over them and a big deal would be made. Why is it that a medium like comics, which is responsible for seemingly 75% of major films for the last 5 years is not respected in the same way? For one, it should be common sense not to publish a major plot point in the headline of a story. Secondly, why do major news sources only report on the comics industry when something ‘major’ happens? Why aren’t they reporting on the top 10 comics sales, or the cancellation of a certain book? Or the recent closing of Virgin Comics? Hell, that’s a pretty big story, and it was nowhere to be seen on CNN.

The message that this sends is that clearly, no one is taking comic books seriously, even after the billions of dollars it’s created for other industries. Surely, CNN hasn’t forgotten that the titular character of The Dark Knight, the #2 highest grossing film of all time, is from a *gasp* comic book? Why is it that films can be taken that seriously, yet major comics plot points can be tossed around at will, without care of who accidentally reads it? Even those readers who weren’t expecting anything ‘big’ to happen in this issue have had things ruined, simply from all the hubbub that is being caused, and that, admittedly, I am contributing to.

Almost certainly, there will be those comics-ignorant folks heading to their LCS to snatch up this issue, and guess what? All those Superman #75 issues you raided in the early 90’s? You know, the ones in the attic collecting dust and not getting anymore valuable? Yeah, well you can expect the same out of this issue. Oh, and Captain America #25 too. Guess who was responsible for the mass-purchasing of the aforementioned issues? News outlets like CNN who spoiled and blew up storylines from DC and Marvel, without having any real clue about what these stories mean to the fans or for the characters themselves. What happens next is the book sells out because of these sycophants looking to make a quick buck on eBay, and leaves comic fans that return week after week (not just once every decade) out in the cold, having to wait for a second printing to come along, or pay exuberant prices for it on eBay (or a LCS, who are not innocent of hoarding), from the same people that caused the problem to begin with.

This isn’t a small issue. It happened a few months ago with the implied return of Barry Allen in DC Universe #0, when the New York Daily News, followed by numerous other news outlets, reported it, and again, ruined things for everyone. They even managed to get some facts wrong. And DC, why would you not do something about it? Oh wait, any publicity is good publicity, right? Don’t worry about alienating devoted readers or lessening the impact of your best product.

It may be extreme, but I am whole heartedly protesting CNN until they either respond to my angry e-mail and apologize, or publicly make a statement. Who wants to join me? Probably no one, but that’s what Superman is all about, one person standing up for what is right.

And god dammit, it’s not right that my Wednesday was ruined.

Comic Blog Elite

$#@*!: Who Gives a $@!% ?!

Monday, September 29th, 2008

At the Baltimore Comic-Con this past weekend, DC spoke out on the recent printing error that plagued All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder #10. For those not in the know, which, anyone reading this probably is, a few weeks ago ASBR #10 was shipped with a multitude of curse words (including, but not exclusive to, the C-word, the F-word, and pretty much every other four letter word ever invented) uncensored in every place in which they appear. Firstly, it’s ironic that this issue was the most curse-ridden in the series this far, and yet it is the issue that fate had chosen for a printing error. The censoring process that was being used for this issue was a black bar printed on top of the already printed word; what happened was the black bar placed on top of the swears in question were simply not dark enough. What resulted was a massive book burning (and eBay bonanza, with copies of the error issues reaching upwards of $200.00). In Baltimore, DC announced a new review period before books are sent to the printers, as well as no longer printing the objectionable words themselves, but instead just estimating the length of the word and placing a black bar there. Their hope is, obviously, to present such an error from happening again in the future.

Now, the first question I have to ask is: what ever happened to the good ol’ “$#@*!”?

Not only is that a classic, but it seems to me a relatively error-free way of getting the job done.

My other question is, why the hell as this caused such a violent uproar in the online comics community? You take a look at a message board on any of the major comics sites, and you see fans ferociously bickering with one another about this topic. But why? Who really cares enough? One argument that really caught my attention are the people who claim that retailers who received the defective issue and subsequently did not destroy them, but sold them for higher (read: MUCH higher) prices on eBay or in their shops should be, and I quote, “punished”.

What?

Punished how? Beaten with a censor-stick? The people that should be punished are those insane enough to pay $200.00 for this issue. The way I see it, these renegade retailers were simply meeting demand. I know that if I was lucky enough to own a shop that got a box of these books in, I would have kept every one of them.

DC has also stated that no steps will be taken to ‘punish’ these retailer, but they clearly have a record of which retailers received the defective issues, and have matched them to the eBay sales. I don’t know, to me it just seems severe. It’s not as though this is a book a little kid would have been reading (are any of the Bat-books kid friendly?). If this were a Johnny DC book with the C-word laced throughout, then alright, perhaps some steps would have to be taken. But it’s Frank Miller’s Goddamn Batman, for Christ’s sake. This ain’t your Grandpa’s Dynamic Duo.

So while I agree the censorship process they had been using essentially was begging for an error like this to occur, I don’t agree that the fans (and execs) who are up in arms about a profit being turned from this situation have anything to complain about. The real point here, though, is what the $#@! is wrong with $#@!?

Hillary Clinton & Politics, Panel to Panel

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

A while back, IDW announced they would be publishing “graphic biographies” of Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama. With those books hitting relatively soon on October 8th, a month before the election, publisher Bluewater Productions has thrown another zinger at us: The uber-First Lady and once hopeful Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is to make her first appearance in comic-dom in Female Force: Hillary Clinton.

 Love her or hate her, she’s going to be inbound to your LCS in January. Think of it! You can hit up the store, snag this issue, and then snuggle up to a steamy hot chocolate, surrounded by the remaining holiday decorations you refused to put away, and enjoy a nice, long, Presidential Inauguration of the guy you probably didn’t even vote for! But despite my jest, the point is, you voted.

While  some may be offended by her face - or any of the faces you’ll be seeing an enormous amount of in the coming months - these graphic biographies are an important move by these publishers. We’ve all seen the tremendous effort put forth by various youth-oriented establishments (MTV, WWE, etc.) to encourage the 18-30 demographic to get out there and Rock The Vote, Vote or Die, Smackdown Your Vote…you get the picture. In film, the environment is a little more hostile, to say the least. Films often tend to portray one extreme or the other, with Hollywood extravaganzas and documentary films often becoming a platform for liberal celebrities to preach. This method essentially amounts to not much more than preaching to the quior, and not really informing anyone of the current political climate.

One medium, at least in recent memory, that has avoided real world politics is mainstream comics. While many comics often have political undertones (DMZ) or are based in it entirely (Ex Machina),  there’s never been a full forced campaign encouraging readers to vote, or a comic specifically focused on the real-life, upcoming election.

Granted, this isn’t really a campaign of any kind. Both IDW and Bluewater have made it clear that these projects are meant to take a well-rounded look at the candidates (and almost candidate), but judging by their promises of a “graphic biography”, I would assume that none of the projects will be tackling the candidate’s positions on hot issues. Which, in my opinion, is the right move, both from a public relations standpoint as well as a sales one. I feel like the goal with these books is to get people that have no interest in any of these candidates, or perhaps feel overwhelmed with information when they look at a place like CNN.com and see nothing but a cloud of words, to pick up these books and get interested.

Even DC has jumped on board the political scene recently with DC Universe: Decisions. Their decision to give their supposedly universal, all encompassing characters a decided position in American politics and thus running the risk of alienating readers aside, it’s honorable of them to get involved, and at least make readers aware of the political climate. Hell, even Marvel is getting in on the action recently, both on the fictional Presidential campaign of Stephen Colbert within the Marvel Universe, and with his upcoming first (official) appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #573.

Obviously, the 18-30 demographic represents a huge vote, and we can see that reflected in the youthful Obama, and even in the withering McCain’s choice of a running mate in Sarah Palin. Both Palin and Clinton herself represents youth just on the simple fact that they are women. America has to change with the times, and a woman in the highest position of power would be testament to that. Add in the hatred most of said demographic has towards the current occupant, and you have an intensely passionate voting base.

Regardless of your  political affiliation, whether you be Red, Blue, Green, or just indifferent, no one can deny that this election is one of the most pivotal decisions to come in the next few years.  Especially with a dwindling economy, it’s interesting to see the comic book industry respond as it has, especially considering the IDW McCain/Obama books have a hefty $4 price tag. Yes, I know that’s only a dollar more, but with a hope to supposedly spread the word, they should be shooting for a lower cover price to encourage the political outsider crowd to take a gander.

All said, it’s certainly not a step in the wrong direction. Vote or Die!