Archive | May, 2016

NOTHING IN LIFE OR ON FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS EVER REALLY FREE – THE DRAMATIC CONCLUSION

27 May

 

Two weeks ago I ruminated on my vast dash across the San Fernando Valley, with a pit stop to West Hollywood’s Meltdown Comics, to five different area stores, the last stop being a beer garden/outdoor carnival atmosphere (Blastoff Books in North Hollywood)  in celebration of Free Comic Book Day, the comic book’s industry equivalent of the television’s industry’s Upfronts and pilot season. I also went in depth of a good chunk of a contribution I made under the auspices of Sherman Oaks area comic book specialty shop, Earth 2 to the charity organization, the Hero Initiative, which is pledged to helping established comic book industry professionals lend a hand when money and health expenses grow too tight. I explained I did it mostly in memory of Thundercats/Silverhawks/Batman: The Animated Series writer Steve Perry who dedicated countless hours to volunteering for this organization died in a tragic hostage mishap. However, there was also an ulterior motive to my madcap mental gymnastics of thinking, as this acute exercise in philanthropy was the only way I could think of in obtaining all of this year’s Free Comic Book Day editions without resorting to making some gouging e-bay retailer rich in profiting off a bunch of comics that were supposed to be given away anyway.

Also in the last blog I went through the first twenty or so comics in the Free Comic Book Day editions and gave my thoughts to each and every one of them. This edition is strictly posted to mop up of the remaining thirty or so books and to give my insights on them before they grow old and moldy. Also stay tuned to the end, as I share with you a SPECIAL CELEBRITY FREE COMIC BOOK DAY EDITION going back at least five years or so handed to me unexpectedly by the celebrity himself.

Keep in mind, these books were given away free with the kindness of the publishers who happen to have participated this year, and while is free is free (and free is good, right?),  don’t let a little thing such as my built in bastard snark radar aid in deterring you from trying out these products when they’re fully fleshed out as sellable in comic book stores.

Dark Lily & Friends (Space Goat Comics) Slightly appealing all ages sampling smorgasbord of light hearted creations featuring the debut of Dark Lily who looks to be no different from the other Death inspired goth girl brigade that we’ve seen in countless other small press wares before her. Dark Lily boasts of coming to Earth to mingle with us simple minded folks from her castle in the moon. There are other sample bit of shorties featuring the rest of the line’s roster such as Monster Elementary, Rocket Queen & The Wrench, and Mage, Inc. (Not pictured)

SpongeBob Freestyle Funnies (Bongo Comics), the annual companion piece to Bongo Comics Free for All features the mishaps of Nickelodeon’s lead cartoon mascot which is one character my young niece is absolutely clambake crazy over, but I doubt she’d touch this with 10 foot fly fishing pole. Includes work by indie hit James Kochalka and an outstanding funny Mermaid Man yarn written by Evan Dorkin with gorgeous art by Ramona Fradon, who must really take this in stride since Mermaid Man is a direct parody of her Silver Age Aquaman work (Not pictured).

fbcd 2

Spectrum (Automatic Publishing) It’s almost as if two stars from a long defunct Sci-fi television show, Nathan Fallion and Alan Tudyk (Firefly) got together and decided to collaborate on a science fiction themed comic book together with so-so results. WHY that’s exactly what it is. But if anyone who would know more about robot assassins, telepathy, and space pirate battles dressed to look like anime cartoon cutouts, it would be these guys.

The Phantom (Hermes Press) – NOW books such as these, make it worthwhile getting up at the crack of the dawn for FREE COMIC BOOK DAY for. It’s a reprint book representing fleeing memories of the Charlton Comics Phantom era. Before DC’s Batman, Phantom Stranger, Aquaman and countless others seen in the pages of the Brave & The Bold, Jim Aparo was the premiere Phantom comic book artist in the early seventies. Unfortunately the few issues I had towards the end of the run I had when I was kid didn’t have Aparo art in them, so it’s an absolute joy to experience some of these classics which run roughly ten bucks a back issue these days. Hermes does a Phantom FCBD book every year to help entice readers into buying their lavish line of Phantom reprint volumes covering the Gold Key, Dell, and Charlton comic book runs.

DC Superhero Girls (DC Comics) DC’s 2nd comic aimed for the young prima donnas in your life. Imagine trying to get your young daughter or niece or cousin to get into comic books when they’re being raised by testosterone fueled dads in their lives. It’s difficult when I have a sister who recently divorced and had to move another state over because she couldn’t find work as a teacher, so my two nieces wind up being raised by each of their respective fathers – UNDER THE SAME ROOF (yeah, the two dads are roommates, so cue the John Stamos jokes here), so ALL there is talk of sports and sports are constantly on the tv. Now my oldest niece had to read Watchmen as a book report, while the younger pre-teen won’t sully even sully fingertips with fresh four colored newsprint DESPITE her having used to beg me to pick her up when she was 4 or 5 years old and have me run her around the room yelling Supergirl at the top of her lungs – WELL, her current tomboy exterior  definitely wouldn’t identify with the flying milksop represented in this incarnation. It’s an well worn out concept: all the super hero girls including Cheetah and Harlequin (?) somehow all become classmates in the same high school. The two minute animated shorts on youtube were popular enough to warrant its’ own full length series on Boomerang, but knowing my 11 year niece, it probably wouldn’t have passed the Teen Titans Go! smell test with her either.

fbcd 1.png

Awake #0 (Action Lab Comics) introduces from the ground floor up a new series of teen age interplanetary adventures blended in with ghost spirits, politics, and cutesy animal aliens. It’s a thought provoking read that’s well paced and is more than capable of roping young readers who want more than your usual super hero fare. I was kind of intrigued by the back page ad of how this company literally just thought of doing a comic book series based on their canine mascot and decided to call it: Action Lab: Dog of Wonder. Oh, I get it, Action Lab, as in Action Labrador. Sure took them long enough: approximately twenty or so years long enough since the company’s formation to finally figure that out.

Sonic Sampler (Archie Comics) Sonic the Hedgehog has been round for quite a while now. It’s one of those mind boggling concepts, like Mindcraft, that the young’uns seem to grasp more quickly than me. I seemed to have remembered back in the nineties that it had seemed to work better as an animated series.

Camp Midnight Free Comic Book Day Special (Image Comics) Image is not widely known for peddling all ages stuff, but when they do, they do a doozy. This is writer Steven T. Seagle (he of Sandman Mystery Theatre fame)’s new schtick writing an original all age stories with classic atypical standard monsters, only this time  if you’re a monster attending an all monster summer camp and you’re are really too pee shy to metamorphose into your inner-monster in front of your peers, you’re going to have a rough time adjusting to friends trusting you. Artist Jason Adam Katzenstein gives it that chilly type of Neil Gaiman disturbed children story appeal. Fun for the entire family and to read to your little ones at night including your dog, IF he happens to turn into a werewolf at night.

ROM (IDW Publishing) seemed to be the most hyped out of all this year’s FBCD offerings as it heralds the return of an alien hunting robot from outer space who’s got a cosmic bone to pick with a certain Skrull –like race of conquerors called the Dire Wraiths. It was pretty popular heady toy merchandised related stuff during the early 1980s’ as was the collaboration back then between HASBRO and Marvel during its’ long fruitful partnership when they were churning out the comic book issues. The appeal of certain ROM issues back then was he could mix it up with Spider-man as well as the rest of the Marvel Universe, but in this new incarnation, writer Chris Ryall and artist Christos Sage are left in the vast wilderness of space all their own. So far, so good as they deliver an beguiling set up to what promises to be this summer’s biggest cosmic rollercoaster-  provided we don’t have stupid crossovers with the likes of Star Trek and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even though it’s quite hypocritical for me to say so (but Micronauts are welcome since they too are from HASBRO). Back up feature, Action Man, a British homage G.I. Joe was also a fun read as well (not pictured).

Captain America (Marvel) It would have been completely asinine if Marvel hadn’t released a Captain America related issue, seeing as how Captain America: Civil War released in theaters earlier in the month is ramming the box office flagpole where the BvS: Dawn of Justice’s sun don’t shine. Writer Nick Spencer who’s also doing a bang up job penning Sam Wilson: Captain America and artist Jesus Saiz brings Steve Rogers back in to the fold after events depicted in the Assault on Pleasant Hill events that ran through all the Avengers related titles. New costume, new type of electro magnetic shield, and a mixture of new and cast members will make the upcoming premiere issue (which I believe has come out by the time this appears downloaded) of the new series a perfect fit between admirers of the Ed Brubaker and Mark Gruenwald runs since Spencer writes Rogers with such patriotic clarity without being condescending. Writer Dan Slott and artist Javier Garron offer a peak into the new Spider-Man summer event storyline of “Dead No More” in which every character in the Spider-Man mythos magically comes back to life. Slott’s recent turn on Amazing Spider-Man has been a breath of fresh air since the events of Secret Wars, reinventing a Peter Parker for a new generation with the recent moves to Singapore and with most of his adventures taking him across globally in Tony Stark’s footsteps as he is now an industrialist himself. I was away for a while until he got that whole Dr. Octopus/Superior Spider-man spiel out of his system (well, nearly almost), but as sales and word of mouth indicate, Slott’s new take got my web curiosity all tangled in knots and now I’m reading it along with nearly everything else (sorry, not pictured).

Worlds of Aspen 2016 (Aspen Comics) Aspen Comics, a small moderate publishing company from Culver City who hides in the high rises of where a lot of the Sony Pictures related companies are headquartered (I think they share the same office space as Top Cow) promises a more cohesive universe with a prelude to their big crossover event that introduces new and newly revamped characters from their roster led by the late Michael Turner’s creation, Fathom leading the charge.

20160523_183135Attack on Titan Anthology (Kodansha Comics) – I have to admit, I’m a LOT late to this anime phenomenon. IF anything, the first I heard of this was when I encountered some pimply teenager at a Arby’s wearing a t-shirt. The kid told me about how the entire crazed concept is a sensation in its’ native Japan (although its. Japanese animation trying to mimic old English Saxon folklore) with the fumbling giddy grinning giants being the main attraction. So on this kid’s word, I started watching the series on Netflix and holy shit did this thing started to give me nightmares. I mean giants running around with these childlike grins devouring people and biting heads off?- WHAT F@%KED DISEASED MIND comes with this stuff and is there any way they can make more than twenty-five episodes? So this freebie is a preview of a hardcover anthology that will be coming out during the summer with new original stories provided by some of the comic industry’s current super star hitters such as Brendon Fletcher, Cameron StewartMichael Avon Omening, Kevin Wada, and a very funny series of panel gags by Evan Dorkin (and I can vouch on how this series would definitely appeal to him).

20160523_183259

Pink Panther (American Mythology Productions) This publisher does mostly licensed stuff and with the Pink Panther free comic book, they prove that they can capture the essence of the wonderful madcap mayhem of the original Fritz Freleng’s shorts from the 1970’s that I remember as a kid like fire flies in a jar. It was the only Saturday morning cartoon that my stepfather would watch with my half-sister and I, as he was quite fond of the Ant and the Aardvark short segment sandwiched in the middle (which coincidentally got its’ own separate DVD/Blu Ray release last week) of the show. Anyway, the first story in this book that parodies the legend of Thor is a gem of a hoot told in the show’s same lovely minimalist dialogue free style.

The Legend of Korra (Dark Horse Comics) – if you’re a fan of the Nickelodeon anime- American steampunk influenced series as much as I am (I love this series even more than it’s predecessor, The Last Airbender), then this issue would be very essential reading because the lead off Korra story unlocks a major puzzle piece in its mythology: namely how Korra first met her giant levitating hybrid panda bear/white wolf that she named Naga. The rest of the issue I didn’t care much for with the How to Dragon Your Dragon & Plants vs. Zombies’ shorts.

Lady Mechanika (Benitez Productions). More crazy steampunk shenanigans with an excerpt taken from Joe Benitez half Victorian era badass, half cybersuited super ample bosomed demon hunting femme fatale that reminds me way too much of Witchblade or the many others of her ilk from the mid-nineties era when these Image type maligned female half naked anti-heroes were all the rage back then. This is an excerpt from one of her graphic novels. It’s pretty to look at, but really not much for me to go on wanting more.

Love & Rockets (Fantagraphics) Love & Rockets is the pleasant alternative to those who can’t stand mainstream comics, (and there was a time in the late eighties, when I thought I would turn my back on them altogether) if you’re looking for a delicious super caffeinated blend stellar eye catching art and stirred in with engrossing breathtaking dialogue – The Hernandez Bros still prove that they are literally at the top of their game,  leaving a blazing wake of other equally talented admirers to blaze behind seemingly self autobiographical angst rants such as Daniel Clowes, Adrian Toomes, or Peter Bagge. Their respective works wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for these guys. You’re just ignorant or culturally inept if you have trouble keeping up with Hopey and the gang. If you think you’ve outgrown Archie comics, then the L & R landscape is just where you want to be until you’ve reached the age of retirement.

20160523_183340

Mooncop (Drawn & Quarterly) wins the coveted award for the most quirkiest free comic book day offering EVER. In fact, if I had a spare Eisner in my back pocket, I’d be more than will to give it to Tom Gauld along with a bouquet of shiny dead roses. This is merely a preview for even more quirky things to come in September 2016 when Gauld releases a whole tome of these “Highlights for Adults” satirical cartoons. My first impression of reading Gauld’s material felt exactly like the same euphoric high I experienced when I first listened to Radiohead’s OK Computer. I can literally hear Thom Yorke’s voice acting out to this.

Mix Tape 2016 (Devil Due/First Publishing) Another four in one compilation made up of the latest from Devil Due’s including one of First’s old stalwarts, The Badger in a fierce knock down grudge match with Vladimir Putin which is the main reason for picking up this edition. Writer Mike Baron & artist Val Mayerik both channel their inner Neal Adams’ Muhammad Ali vs. Superman in this richly satisfying blood bout. Make sure to duck from flying teeth. The other two features; Mercy Spark didn’t really grab me, but if Squarriors is any indication, it’s a book that’s going to be on equal par with David Petersen’s MouseGuard.   The last feature, Public Relations, was a sly tongue in cheeky fun read.

The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat (And Pokey!) (Dynamite Entertainment) I understand that Grumpy Cat is a huge internet phenomenon with its’ flair for its’ sleigh of hand one panel gags and its’ morose outlook view of the world, but is it really a character that can maintain that type of momentum throughout long form stories? Multiple writer teams led by Ben McCool try out our patience & diligence. It’s just too, too cutesy for my taste. “Paws of Justice” which is an obvious parody of the latest Batman vs. Superman movie is riddled with so much ‘I saw that coming from a mile away’ clichés, while McCool’s “Detective Cats” plays delightful homage to the gumshoe Film Noir genre with a real twist on the whodunit conclusion.

Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom (Arcana) I think perhaps the H.R. Lovecraft hardcore aficionados would take complete umbrage with this complete asinine concept of a disturbed, but brilliant horror writer childhood tales reduced to nothing but complete mindless puppetoon like garbage in order to sell dvds and streaming video to kids. There’s nothing supposed to be cute and cuddly about a plush looking Cthulhu. I won’t be watching this on hulu, that’s for sure. Equally stupid is the back-up feature ‘supposedly’ created by Stan Lee entitled “The Unknowns” which is about a kiddie teen rock band recruiting space aliens and giant gorillas to be their auxiliary members. The whole concept is mind numbingly stupid and makes little sense as to why a near ninety year old man is trying to conceptualize on how a future rock band would sound. It’s not Josie & the F@%king Pussycats. that’s for sure.

fbcd 3

Civil War II (Marvel) – the other big event going on at Marvel besides the new Captain America/ Avengers movie is the new variation of the film’s title in which the entire Marvel Universe seems to be pitted against the might of Thanos – who is slated to be the main antagonist in the next Avenger set of films, so of course, the House of Mighty Big Multimedia Ideas wants you on the ground floor with this special prologue set in place in which the big smack down with Thanos leaves a series of consequences in which a few of our favorites don’t completely walk away unscathed, courtesy of Brian Michael Bendis & Jim Chueng Of course, this is what Free Comic Book Day comics from the majors are all about: to whet our appetite for the big main event summer series, much like they did for Secret Wars last year. If only DC had followed in tandem with a special prologue for their Rebirth project (but $2.99 for an eighty page chapter isn’t too shabby either).  Back up story is a outtake from the current running All New All Different Avengers series which introduces the new Wasp by Mark Waid, Alan Davis, & Mark Farmer, of which the continuation of this tale lies smack dab at the bottom of my reading pile.

We Can Never Go Home/Young Terrorists (Black Mask) Black Mask Publishing is entering back into the publishing fray with a flip book commemorating two of their most ambitious graphic novels and series which are definitely the most twisted and cringe in your seat worthy materials I’ve seen comics do in a while. This material contained inside could out gross out true devotees of the Walking Dead with one arm tied behind your back and a blindfold over your eyes. Succubus eating disorders and administering brutal prison beat downs meted upon cute Irish girls is only the icing on the cake in this brutal mature readers edition. Get me these graphic novels, STAT!!

Valiant: 4001 AD (Valiant Comics) is the company’s big summer event cross-over occurring throughout most of their titles for most of the summer including sneak peeks with the latest fun going on with Archer & Armstrong and Bloodshot (which I hear is being made into a major motion picture from Sony). Everything else is up for grabs. I do however notice the change in structure in most of the Valiant these days, namely that the stories these days are more intensified with action rather than being too wordy earlier in the company’s run where they were just too time consuming to read with so much expeditionary  dialogue frothing from each of the characters’ mouths.

Pokemon’ (VizMedia) . Don’t get me started. Please see my previous post, the “101 Dishonorable Deaths of Pokémon” blog post for every nuanced iota of absolute seething hatred and ultra annihilation that I’d like to see done to this property. Believe it or not, I got most of the sidebar quizzes right. The less said about admitting that, the better I feel about root canal and anal probes as major causes for celebration.

20160523_183410

CBLDF Presents Defend Comics: FCBD Edition 2016 (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund) – the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is another non-profit organization that does the comic book industry proud, and I usually try to donate whenever I can, usually at shindigs thrown during the summer at Comic Con International. So they have assembled some fine talent to help spread the word of why free speech, especially in the comic book that you read and buy is detrimental to society with the likes of James Kochalka, Andy Runton, Jack Patrick Green and a host of others. Hey, if we didn’t have the CBLDF, movies such as Deadpool would probably never have been made because of you damn brats sneaking those profanity laced comic books in past your parents.

I suppose it was a mere coincidence that the last 4 books I had at the bottom of the reading pile were all martial art themed starting with Street Fighter V # 1 (UDON Entertainment). Not a big lover of video game punch ups as the three stories contain within present three different globe spanning matches with the characters in ‘niche’ universe. The only one out of the three I found slightly amusing was the one starring Cammy White in a deadly death match to see if she’s worthy of keeping her seat on a plane. C’mon, we’ve all been through type of ordeal at one time or another.

One-Punch Man (Viz Media). While trying to figure out what to do with my life now that I’ve exhausted every episode of Attack on Titan on Netflix. What would be the next type of slightly appealing anime show to follow every Saturday . The answer came to me as I opened (starting with the back page first. Remember, Japanese comics are read right to left, instead of left to right and front to back. Just as easy as learning to wipe your own ass with toilet paper) this book and incidentally stumbled upon a list of all the episodes so far of  this anime series. So upon reading the introductory tale, I figure I can totally dig this concept of a plain everyday average bald headed kid who can take out demons from hell with simply one punch them through and leave a hole behind. The second feature, My Hero Academia is another one of those super heroes in high school cloned concept (see DC Superhero Girls up above).

Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises (Darby Pop) . As a nine year old, I vividly remember the death of martial arts legend, Bruce Lee in the summer of 1973. I think perhaps it was the very first obituary I ever read in a newspaper, only because I remembered him so fondly from the Green Hornet show as Kato. Even back then, that one season hit wonder show used to be on syndication at that same timeline along with Batman & Superman reruns. Bruce’s surviving daughter, Shannon Lee, of which I am five years her senior is honoring her father by writing him in as a comical character in a fictitious comic book series that takes place in North Hollywood (and points given for mentioning the Metro Red Line Subway, because tourists are not fully convinced that an actual subway exists in Los Angeles) in which Bruce wakes up from a mysterious coma. Shannon explains in the book for the reason she goes for this less serious storytelling route was because she knew deep down that her father never got around to making a comedic film during his lifetime. Well, from what I heard, Jackie Chan already trampled all over that territory. Anyway, the artist Jeff Kline goes in length about how getting the nuances of rendering Shannon’s father just right from photo references provided to him exclusively by Bruce Lee’s family.

And lastly, Assassin’s Creed (Titan – not pictured) May be the sleeper hit of the entire FCBD stack this year (as much as the Fight Club one for Dark Horse was last year), as the forthcoming movie starring Michael Fassbender as a time jumping assassin is starting to attract a lot of buzz lately. Two separate stories in this issue, and as far as video game to comic book adaptations go, this wasn’t a bad read.

20160526_214851

Now what you’re wondering: is this for f@%king real, Coatney?

Yeah, it is. It’s absolutely actor tyrant broadway show heckler wunderkind, Shia LaBeouf weird ass attempt by being a alternative underground artist/writer. As many of you remember, LaBeouf was reamed a new one by openly plagiarizing Daniel Clowes’s autobiographical stories for a short subject that LaBeouf made called HowardCantour.com.

Apparently, LaBeouf tried his hand at imitating Clowes (rather badly) with these two books from which I heard he published off his Apple computer. These books were stuffed in my hands by none other than Shia LaBeouf himself at a Free Comic Book Day event held at Earth 2 approximately four years ago. He didn’t even ask permission if I wanted them or not, he just placed them in my hands while my back was turned to him shopping for those cheap $1.00. It didn’t register to me who the hell it was until a couple of girls obviously weaned on Teen Beat Magazine started screaming his name while he took off in his convertible to other Free Comic Book Day Store celebration parts unknown. I almost threw these those two perfectly bound pieces of shit out in the garbage until some people on facebook convinced me that they might be collector’s items one day.

Those photos you see above are literally the first time I ever turned a page to shudder to see at what was inside.

Next blog in a couple of weeks: More Kscope music love and those pesky Comic Book Related Show May Sweepstakes ratings wars that you’re all so fond of.

 

 

 

 

NOTHING IN LIFE OR ON FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS EVER REALLY FREE

13 May

It’s an enormous daunting task just to get fifty damn free comic books, especially when they already have the words  FCBD_wide_logo bannered across their masthead.

It’s been baffling the bejesus out of me over the past few years of how I can be inconsistent at least in attaining only a half of the allotted free comics that are all displayed in its’ infinite glory across the website www.freecomicbookday.com . You’d think by visiting six or seven store across the giant urban landscape that is called Los Angeles would net about most of them, but you would be wrong. A couple of years back, I asked a Santa Monica merchant at Hi-De-Ho Comics who once boosted of having to order all fifty titles if there would be a way of skating around the red tape in getting all the free titles since they put a limit of five per customer.

But when I was refused, I cajoled to the clerk – I’m just not any damn customer I’m Cary Coatney, DAMMIT! The co-creator of the Deposit Man and once upon a time often contributor to the Comics Buyer’s GuideWHEN it used to be published on ancient parchment paper. I HAVE CLOUT IN THIS TOWN!!

“Ok, we’ll give you what we can spare – IF YOU AGREE TO SPEND $100 in our store.”

So I reluctantly bought a bunch of stuff I did not need and they give me in return a half filled Diamond Distributor box of all their available Free Comic Book Day edition titles.

When I got home, I was sorely disappointed, because all it amounted to was a little more than half of what I’d seen on the website, and some doubles, and EVEN triples of what they had. In other words, THEY PADDED the BOX.

Why, oh why, was my life in such a pivotal disarray? Why did these free comic book day books matter to me so much? Did I personally know all these creators and products? I dunno, let me check my facebook) DID I HAVE a personal horse in this perpetual ever psychedelic computerized four colored horse race?

Then, I started to think of the upfronts.

The upfronts? You know that merry time in May when all the television, cable, and digital platform streaming converge in a giant clusterf**K (sorry, I’m trying to make this blog a all ages entry) to determine what you’ll be watching for late fall 2016 – late spring 2017??

It’s the same exact feeling I’ve had lately about Free Comic Book Day, now going fifteen years strong. It’s become bigger with more participants every year trying to showcase their latest offerings.

So let’s refer to these editions as the pilot episodes. The one issue that is used to REEL YOU IN so that you’ll be a corporate everlasting obedient customer.

Free Comic Book Day is sort of like the comic book industry equivalent of the television industry’s Upfronts – a one day power point presentation by 50 companies large or small converging upon you like a pack of wolves hoping to sell on you on something. So, they all gather together, unbridled their thinking caps and voila!! A pilot is then made for you to sample in the mode of the 32 page simple to flip through pamphlet.

Only caveat though, NOT all retailers are willing to curtsy and serve you up that hors d’oeurves  tray with all the eclectic tasty shrimp puffs and mini hot dogs.  IF there had been no customer interest for that previous companies products in the first place, then chances are they’re not going to order a bundle of those fifty samples to pass out just to lose money on. So probably a good handful of those previews probably never get to be even seen.

If you go to the website (see link above), you’ll see that the books are divided into two categories; the Gold and the Silver. The gold ones will be the ones most retailers will order if you want the regular corporate representation from Marvel, DC, Archie, IDW Publishing, Dark Horse, Dynamite Entertainment. The other lot – the Silvers are the  bastard childs,  representing the smaller and independent companies, although, at the last, one of the majors such as DC did this year in getting a DC Superhero Girl comic out to publicize the new animated series that premiered recently on Boomerang Network and Marvel throwing a brand new Captain America comic in the mix to heighten the movie going public and to make abundantly clear that Steve Rogers was taking up the mantle of Captain America again and getting a new electric magnetic shield in the process. That was a mystery book.

The Silver books were the ones in short supply that were increasingly frustrating to get, as likely as all stores and events seem to give them out first. For many years, I missed out on a new Tick comic or a Phantom reprint featuring gorgeous sixties era Jim Aparo art.

Anyway, before going any further. Let’s pause for a brief wiki gloss-over history of the annual event,

“In 2001, retailer Joe Field was writing columns for an industry magazine, and saw how successful feature films based on comic book franchises were providing the comic book industry with a positive cultural and financial turnaround from the speculator bust of the late 1990s, Field proposed Free Comic Book Day in one of his columns, and received positive reaction to it. Then-Image Comics publisher Jim Valentino suggested having the first Free Comic Book Day on the same weekend as the opening of the 2002 Spider-Man feature film, in order to take advantage of the film’s heavy promotion and related press about the comic book medium, and thus the first event was held May 4, 2002, one day after the film’s opening. However, not all events have corresponded with the release of a film based on a comic book. In 2004 it was held in July, but it was moved back to the first Saturday in May the following year and has been held on that day ever since. On Free Comic Book Day, participating comic book store retailers give away specially printed copies of free comic books, and some offer special deals and creator signings to those visiting their establishments. However, retailers do not receive the issues for free; they pay 12–50 cents per copy for the comics they give away during the event.In addition to comic books, some stores also give away other merchandise, such as mini posters and other movie tie-in memorabilia.’

For the past six years or so, (there was one year I missed FCBD entirely when I was at my dad’s house in Las Vegas and I couldn’t get his ass to drive me to the nearest Las Vegas area comic book specialty store), I’ve been getting up early around 6 AM just to make the commute to the farthest point possible that I’m willing to make my six to seven store pilgrimage. Last year, I started down in Culver City and worked my way north to the San Fernando Valley winding up at Earth 2 Comics here in my local burb of Sherman Oaks. And it was there that an idea hit me: owner Carr D’Angelo, besides giving out free comics, handing out marshmallow treats, having cosplay contests, and having all sorts of great creators come and sign the free comic book day editions that they happened to have worked on, was also asking people if they could give a few dollars in donations to a charity called The Hero Initiative. In 2015, on a lark, I donated 20 dollars in the coffee can, and Carr told me that donation would net me another 5 or so Free Comic Book Day editions. So  last year that small token of generosity on my part helped me break the halfway point.

Earlier last month, entertaining the mere thought of buying all the yearly FCBD editions from an anonymous ebay dealer rotted me to the core of my ever constant runny diarrhetic soul. Why would I want to contribute to help profit a greedy second dealer when they were mainly free in the first place – and jeez, not to mention the price of postage to send out those books. And who knows where those hands of whose in Puerto Rico have been shipping that package from?  For all I know , I could be susceptible to contracting the Zika Virus.

For the uninitiated in the comic book industry – the Hero Initiative is a charity organization that rivals that other organization that I’ve sung high praises during my Comic Buyer’s Guide writing days, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). Here is another history capsule provided by Wikipedia:

“The Hero Initiative, formerly known as A Commitment to Our Roots, or ACTOR, is the first federally recognized not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping comic book creators, writers and artists in need. Founded in late 2000 by a consortium of comic book and trade publishers, including Marvel Comics, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Wizard Entertainment, CrossGen Comics and Dynamic Forces Inc., the 501(c)(3) charity aims to assist comic creators with health, medical, and quality-of-life assistance.

Many early comic creators, whose work laid the foundation of entire fictional universes that proved to be highly lucrative for the publishers that profit from them, were often paid little for their work, and were not allowed to keep their creations. According to the Hero Initiative, “to be eligible for financial assistance from Hero, an applicant must have been a working comic book writer, penciler, inker, colorist or letterer on a work-for-hire basis for no less than 10 years since January 1, 1934.”

Anyone who meets the eligibility requirements may apply for aid, which could vary from medical assistance, paying rent, or finding employment (in or out of the comics industry). Hero’s benefits are not meant to be a permanent crutch for needy creators, but assistance for those in debt, or who have trouble paying bills. Any granted aid is kept confidential.

The Hero Initiative utilizes many methods of fundraising. Foremost is their annual art auction, auctioning donated original comics art-work at fan conventions. Year-long, they sell donated art and special edition comics at conventions and through the Dynamic Forces website. Artists, writers, and publishers are invited to donate work, and fans are invited to donate money directly to the fund. ACTOR also sells a green Excelsior! wrist-band similar in design to the Livestrong wristband.”

So forming an alliance with Earth 2 comics, I decided to give a good sizable donation to the Hero Initiative in exchange of getting every FCBD edition that the store orders, thereby saving me time, long bus trips, and wear and tear on the soles of my pretty feet from walking around events and beer gardens thrown in FCBD’s honor. (yes, there was a beer garden in North Hollywood this year thrown under the auspices of Blastoff Books).

Also in a way, this is a way to honor writer and creator Steve Perry – which is the main focus of why I’m attracted to this organization like a moth to the proverbial flame. Not to be confused with the once lead singer of Journey, this Steve Perry was a prolific writer who wrote a good handful of Thundercats and Silverhawk episodes as well as notable comic books such as the creator owned TimeSpirits (which many may argue that the James Cameron stole the inspiration for the movie, Avatar, although my argument would be that Cameron stole the idea for Avatar from many numerous Roger Dean Yes album covers) for Epic Comics with artist Tom Yeates and Wally Wood’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. My favorite work of Perry’s were the two episodes of Batman: The Animated Series that he penned introducing the protagonist, The Ninja, in Night of the Ninja and Day of the Samurai. Perry, had a series of domestic problems with his girlfriend and custodial battles concerning his son, and wound up nearly homeless as a result of it. The situation worsened when he started sharing a place with a shady despicable couple that led him to be found murdered with having his limbs amputated. Although all the way down through this dark descent, the Hero Initiative and his best friend in the industry, Steve Bissette (Swamp Thing) stepped in to try to help and in return, Perry would devote countless hours at comic book conventions at the Hero Initiative booth to help raise funds and awareness. On top of that, Perry was also suffering from cancer.

 

Perry’s plight hit me too close to home, because if you scour through any of my past blogs, I can tell you straight up, I’ve had my patches of dark times, the longest going on for seven years since I’ve had the viable funds to self publish the conclusion to my Deposit Man saga. I’ve been on long period of unemployment in the entertainment industry, and as you get older, worse so in your fifties, you find fewer people want to hire you because of your age the last two years have been the most tumultuous, when my EDD benefits ran out and wasn’t subject to renewal, I ran out and resorted to getting a EBT card and had to rely on General Relief. However, with someone finally taking notice of my residual and royalty experience, I’ve been recently been hired by a prestigious and beneficial organization that realized my full potential and have been making the best money I’ve had in nearly half a decade.

I promised himself, feeling wretched upon reading the tragic fate of Perry, that I would dedicate myself in picking up the good work that Perry selfishly did and try to help out those who inspired me creatively throughout my life. So I told Carr, I’m starting out with donating a day’s worth of salary (after taxes taken out), approximately  $125.00 into the till (you should have seen the eyes of the cashiers widen like something out of a Sailor Moon episode when they saw six twenties and a five magically slowly depart my hands when I did this).

And it felt good to help out. Much better than I did last year. With my best friend, Harry Perzigian now dead and gone, this small act of bravado sort of gives my life new meaning.

My facebook posting on the morning of May 6th:

$125.00 donation to the Hero Initiative. Carr D’Angelo & Heather Kenealy are witnesses. I always swore that once i got back on my feet, that i would be more charitable to my peers and now with my permanent job at THE PLACE THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED I have made good on that promise. It may be Free Comic Book Day for the rest of the world, but keep in mind, those blockbusters based on comic book properties you see up on the screen? They didn’t just materialize out of corporate suit’s ass. They came from the blood, sweat, and the India ink of kind individuals who are probably long forgotten living in a trailer park and eating Alpo out of a can. So if you’re out today at your local mom and pop comic book shop and you see a donation can. Try to help your local struggling artist in any way you can, because the work will forever survive, but the one who created those simple moments of enjoyment for you will not.

 

Let’s close out by talking briefly about the comics. By the way, this is first half of a two parter. Look for part two in a couple of weeks that will encapsulate the content of remaining thirty or so books left to talk about. PLUS a little known surprise from Free Comic Book Days holidays past handed to me personally by a famous celebrity.

On this go around I’m going to cover at least the first twenty that came out of the box. I’m not categorize them from best to worst, or place them in some wacky preference reading order.

fcbd set1

Science Comics (First Second Books) –

First one out of the box harkened to memories of being in fifth grade perusing through all the career comics I used to read during lunch period that featured Popeye as your guidance counselor. I was particularly engrossed in how Maris Wicks’ stuck to her lifelong dreams and goals to wanting to become a deep sea diver and marine biologist and is able to capture it all in a simplistic easy to follow narrative that should engage and lively inspire the Marine Boy in all of us. The back up feature by Jon Chad should appeal to those who are looking to have a Cliffnotes study on volcanos the next time you have to cram for a geology exam that is equally informative.

Overstreet (Gem Publishing) usually sticks to its’ guns to put out an annual pamphlet chockfull of articles focusing on what’s hot in the collective market and what auctioneer’s are bidding for these days. (check out the pic on page 20 of a Frank Frazetta sketch of Superman that sold for 35k).

Nickelodeon Sanjay and Craig + Harvey Beaks (Papercutz) Papercutz is usually your source for everything Smurfy, but I guess they took a different route with two animated shows that I’m not familiar with, and I’m usually a guy who’s up on the latest in all animation warfare. Then again, the only show on Nickelodeon I ever fell in love with was The Legend of Korra, so what do I know. Fun laughable adventures with a Hindu-American kid and his pet snake and the back up Harvey Beaks, I don’t know what to make of it. Kids my niece’s age ought to get it more than me.

Avatarex: Destroyer of Darkness (Graphic India) This is a preview look at some of the projects that Grant Morrison coming out from some publishers out in India. I like Grant’s work on the majors (and I’ve got his Wonder Woman Earth 2 graphic novel on my radar), but when he tries to go all George Harrison on me, I feel if I’m just better off in a corner by myself with a sitar and a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi, trying to play diatonic scales along to the entire four sides of Yes’ Tales From Topographic Oceans rather than him have trying to explain how we should be embracing the lame concept of superheroes who hail from Mumbai.

20160511_133205

2000 AD (Rebellion Riverside House) usually has the usual extra hodge-podge of British sci-fi adventure, but ups the ante this year (whilst discarding the usual comic magazine format) with digital  comics and music downloads. If you need to hear the final word on super hero movie competition, look no further than the funniest rip roaring Judge Dread story that gets this issue off to a running start. The Death Man story is a mini fun ride too.

Dream Jumper (Graphix/Scholastic Books) After years of experimenting with bringing graphic novels into the classroom (starting with Bone), Scholastic launches into a new series of light grade school suspense with the adventures of Ben and his imaginary quest to rescue his fellow classmates from a dream demon. Written by none other than actor Greg Grunberg (ABC’s Alias and NBC’s Heroes Reborn) and cartoonist Lucas Turnbloom. Very inventive excerpt read that certainly gets the J.J. Abrams Seal of Approval.

Junior Braves of the Apocalypse (Oni Press) – as the cover blurb says “Junior Braves is the Walking Dead for kids“. Boy scouts vs. zombies. Nothing here really worth screaming and shouting over the dead of silence.

The Tick (New England Comic Press) FINALLY! A Free Comic Book Day Tick Comic to call my very own. Every store I have been to on Free Comic Book Day has either run out or under ordered copies – but fret not Spoon believers – FOR THE MERE PRICE of postage: you can order the previous five editions to be delivered to your very own doorstep. An offer, I shall severely take advantage of that offer. Now if only, they would come up with cheap binders to store them in. The Tick never disappoints in super hero satire, with a three season animated series and one short lived sitcom behind him, The Tick jumps into new streaming television show territory when its’ new series debuts later on Amazon Prime. The first story in this edition parodies a Jonathan Hickman storyline from his early run of the Fantastic Four in which infinite versions of the Tick hold a private get together without inviting Arthur.

20160511_133229

HILDA (Nobrow) the tales of Hilda, a pubescent girl and her dog Twig hopscotch between the real world and the surreal world is in similar vein to what the Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strip used to be at the turn of twentieth century. Brilliant stuff. Even its’ two companion stories featuring Akissi, a modern African village kid and the anime influenced Fantasy Sports are worth a look see. This is stuff I should be cramming down my 11 old niece’s throat, who by the way hates comics.

March (Top Shelf/IDW Publishing) Hands down, one of the top Free Comic Book Day offerings of the year! I have read comics throughout my whole life that alerted me to trials of the human condition beginning in the late eighties with Maus by Art Speigelman,- the fall of the Jewish Holocaust,  Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse – which defined the gay movement. In the 2000’s, Fax from Sarajevo by Joe Kubert, a nail biter of a tale of a family narrowly escaping genocide. Now midway through the 2010s’ comes a preview excerpt of a very important graphic novel trilogy detailing the brutal desperation of standing for your right to be counted as a human being in the civil right movement as recounted by a person who actually was there to help make it happen written by none other than Congressman John Lewis, recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. This is the subject matter that more free comic book day editions should strive for. To teach and inspire.

The Stuff of Legend (Th3edworld Studios) Young boy is snatched from his bedroom bed and dragged into the darkness of his closet by the Boogeyman. It’s up to the boy’s pet puppy and his toys to rescue him. Where have I seen this movie before?

Comics Lab!!! (Z2) is a mish mash of independent projects coming out from this company.  The only thing I found worth while of mention is an advertisement for a project with pretty artwork called Legend ‘where cat technology rules, dog partner with hawks and humans may be the most beastly creatures of all’. Ok, to all selling points, but give me some story to go along with it.

20160512_135350

Doctor Who (Titan Books) Somehow I appreciated Doctor Who more when only I knew about it. Now that the show is an US phenomenon more so than a world phenomenon, the show has lost its’ appeal to me. I once went to a Doctor Who convention back in the mid-nineties at the Van Nuys airport and I was instantly repulsed by the multitude of disgusting smelly fat chicks that flooded the hotel lobby just for a glance at actor Sylvester McCoy and that repulsive experience changed my life. So I switched to Blake’s 7 and Red Dwarf fandom instead. I shall take this book and gift wrap it for my hygienic bereft gigantic roommate who couldn’t bend over to wipe a menstrual stain off a bathroom floor in order to save her life.

Strawberry Shortcake (IDW Publishing) I got the most astonished looks when people saw me reading this on the bus ride to work. I bet there’s an APB out for my arrest right now and I’ll be brought up on either proposed child endangerment charges or attempted bodily harm to a diabetic. I kind of got the message that every character in this universe has to be named after a sinful delectable dessert, but do each character have to have a pet with an equally dumb name. Seeing as how as this is marketed towards daddy’s little girls, expect a tsunami of parents’requests for an easy bake oven in your near future.

Archie (Archie Comics Publications) I have to admit, I wasn’t completely on board with the rejuvenated version of Archie to appeal to older readers and I’m kind of glad I stuck to my guns (although wandering around with a loaded pistol in a school hallway would certainly raise a red flag), because this more ‘realistic‘ approach doesn’t really appeal to me at all. The last thing I need in my life is to evoke memories of Parsippany High School social misfit flashbacks when looking at a comic book, even though I sort of identify with this souped up version of Jughead Jones as a cheap dime store morose douchebag.

Bongo Comics Free For All (Bongo Comics) What’s a Free Comic Book Day celebration without a free Simpsons comics. They never seem to disappoint. Although, this edition could have used a little Futurama air freshing.

20160513_132025

Serenity Firefly Class 03-K64 (Dark Horse) Quite honestly, Serenity is so passé as a space opera, that I’ve honestly given up trying to philosophize on why this is even still lingering around as a cult hit with only 14 episodes and one movie that basically eradicated nearly the entire cast. My hard earned 0 cents for this issues was plunked down for the appearance of Hellboy. Hellboy f%@king rules and the back up Aliens story wasn’t half bad either.

Boom! Studios 2016 Summer Blast (Boom Studios!) This is a shared book between three imprints all published under the auspices of Boom! Studios: Arachaia, Boom! Box, and kaboom! Depending on your tastes, your mileage may vary. There’s familiar licensed fare such as Adventure Time! and a preview look at a new teen girl detective series named Goldie Vance. I was kind of disappointed that Boom! didn’t spring this year for a hardcover of Archaia’s ware, but as per yearly, there’s a new Mouse Guard short story included by fan favorite David Peterson that never fails to disappoint.

Bob’s Burgers (Dynamite Entertainment) is a very charming witty animated show on FOX, although takes place on Coney Island, is somewhat very, very  popular in Los Angeles. So popular, that the entire voice cast sold out two live reading performances at the Wiltern Theater a couple of weeks ago. The show is also animated out there at a small studio called Bento Box in North Hollywood. Everyone involved with the making of this issue was signing over at Meltdown Comics, which was my second stop on my five store tour this year.

Suicide Squad (DC Comics) Like I mentioned before, some big companies such as Marvel or DC sometimes use Free Comic Book Day as a way to promote their theatrical counterparts. So rather than use Free Comic Book Day to push the company’s new make-over with Rebirth, a reprint of the first New 52 issue of Suicide Squad was used in its’ stead.

That’s all the time this month. Check back in a couple of weeks for part two and the rest of the reviews.