Flying Below the Radar: November 2014


This is a Blog I do once a month as I read through the advance solicits for comics shipping in two months.  Every month your local comic shop (LCS) places orders with Diamond Comics for what comics will be on their rack two months down the road.  That means in November they’re ordering the things that they’ll be selling in January, 2015.

This month we have a lot of great items that could have flown below your radar!  Revisit a classic indie series for only $1, a collection of work by Joe Kubert published for the 1st time in the US, Spawn is the 2nd indie to reach 250 issues, and another cool magazine sized debut issue from Ed Brubaker.  Girl Power continues as Princeless returns after a long absence, The Munchkin card game comes to comics, and a tale of what happens when costumed theme park princesses decide to take their park back from gangs. We also get a revival of a host of classic newspaper adventure heroes originally published by King Features.  Check out these and many more comics that could have easily flown below your radar!  I cover lots of cool stuff that you may miss if you’re not reading though all the solicits like I do…  I scour the solicits so you don’t have to!

Comic shop owners are typically aware of the books from the big publishers particularly superhero stuff and “hot” indie books (usually AFTER they become hot) - beyond that there are no guarantees.  Even if they know about a particular comic they may not order it to put out on their racks.  I keep track of advance solicits that get posted on-line on the ComicSpectrum website each month, if there is something you really want that’s not guaranteed to be on the rack (like Batman or Avengers), you should consider letting your comic shop know you’re interested so they’ll know to order it.

Most of the items shown here are things you may not see on the racks in every comic shop.  If it looks cool to you, make sure you ask your LCS to order it.  Heck, start a pull list at your shop and add the books you’re interested in so your shop will save them for you and you don’t have to worry about them selling out.

LadyKiller1-13d02 1FOR1-Elfquest-12286
CREDIT: Dark Horse                                  CREDIT: Dark Horse

Lady Killer #1 (of 5) [Dark Horse]
Joëlle Jones, Jamie S. Rich (Writers) • Joëlle Jones (Artist)
Josie Schuller is a picture-perfect homemaker, wife, and mother—but she’s also a ruthless, efficient killer for hire! A brand-new original comedy series that combines the wholesome imagery of early 1960s domestic bliss with a tightening web of murder, paranoia, and cold-blooded survival.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.50

#1 for $1: ElfQuest [Dark Horse]
Wendy & Richard Pini (Writers) • Wendy Pini (Artist)
The perfect place to start the greatest fantasy story in comics history!
When a looming terror drives Chief Cutter and his Wolfriders from their forest home, the tribe embarks on a marvelous journey across a transforming landscape inhabited by a myriad of incredible creatures! Alliances are forged, enemies uncovered, and savage battles fought in this epic fantasy adventure!
BW / 32 pgs / $1.00

CREDIT: Dark Horse                                CREDIT: IDW Publishing

Tex: The Lonesome Rider HC [Dark Horse]
Claudio Nizzi (Writer) • Joe Kubert (Artist)
American icon Joe Kubert and Italian writer Claudio Nizzi collaborated on Tex: The Lonesome Rider at the turn of the new century—and this standalone graphic novel is now available to a wider English-language audience! Tex tracks four ruthless killers who have massacred a peaceful farming family, using his ranger’s ingenuity and brute force when needed!  This is Joe Kubert’s rarely seen western masterpiece and the first US release of this modern classic!
FC / 240 pgs / $49.99

Popeye Classics #30 [IDW]
Bud Sagendorf (Writer/Artist)
The world’s greatest Popeye artist, Bud Sagendorf, tells a rousing tale of comicdom’s nastiest villainess, the dreaded Sea Hag, in “Desert Pirates!” This potboiler jumpstarts when Wimpy meets one of her minions that craftily lures him with a bottle of, yes… hamburger aroma!
And look at that awesome Subscription variant cover by Steve Mannion! Olive Oyl never looked better!
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

Dyingandthedead-01-e1784 Spawn-250a-copy-16223
CREDIT: Image Comics                            CREDIT: Image Comics

The Dying and The Dead #1 [Image]
Jonathan Hickman (Writer) • Ryan Bodenheim (Artist)
A murder at a wedding reveals a fifty year-old secret. At great cost, a man with a dying wife is given the opportunity to save her. A lost tribe is reborn in another time. Seemingly disparate events that force relics from the Greatest Generation to come together for one last hurrah. It’s Indiana Jones for Old People. There are no fedoras, only bedpans.
FC / 64 pgs / $4.50

Spawn #250 [Image]
Todd McFarlane (Writer) • Szymon Kudranski (Artist)
Say what you will about Spawn, but this anniversary marks only the second time an independent comic book has reached such a lofty number (the 1st being Cerebus)! This issue marks the cataclysmic climax in the story of the current Spawn: Jim Downing’s final struggle against his costume while the fate of New York City lies in the balance.
From the ashes of that battlefield comes the long awaited return of the original Spawn… AL SIMMONS.
FC / 64 pgs / $5.99

criminal-01b-c35b6 Reyn-01-845a8
CREDIT: Image Comics                                      CREDIT: Image Comics

Criminal Special Edition (One Shot) [Image]
Ed Brubaker (Writer) • Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser (Artists)
To celebrate the return of CRIMINAL to print, BRUBAKER & PHILLIPS return to their award-winning title for the first time in years for a 48-page special sure the thrill their readers, old and new alike!
It’s 1976, and Teeg Lawless is doing 30 days in county jail with a price on his head, his only safe company from the savagery a beat-up old comic magazine his dead cellmate left behind. It’s CRIMINAL like you’ve never seen it before, with a comic within the comic and all those slick ‘70s thrills!
Keep an eye out for the Magazine sized variant with 16 extra pages!
FC / 32 pgs / $3.50 (comic)
FC / 48 pgs / $5.99 (magazine)

Reyn #1 [Image]
Kel Symons (Writer) • Nathan Stockman (Artist)
Reyn is a freelance swordsman and monster hunter who also might be the last of the legendary “Wardens” of the land of Fate, whose ranks long since faded into myth. He’s haunted and driven by visions from a “guiding angel” who sets him on the path of a great quest—though Reyn’s hardly the errant knight-type. He’ll rescue and partner with the sorceress Seph, a member of a coven known as the Followers of Tek, hunted as heretics for their beliefs, but who may know what secrets Fate holds.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.50

CREDIT: Action Lab                                CREDIT: BOOM! Box

Jeremy Whitley (Writer) • Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt (Artists)
Princess Adrienne is back! This time Adrienne and Bedelia have found another young princess locked away in a tower and decided to rescue her. But Princess Raven is more than meets the eye and Adrienne may have finally met her match. The story that started in FCBD 2013 will finally be told here!
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

Tom Siddell, Jim Zub & John Kovalic (Writers) • Mike Holmes, Rian Sygh, & John Kovalic (Artists)
Based on the immensely popular card game, Munchkin comes to comics! Munchkin takes place in a very flexible mashup of genres. Originally a satire of fantasy roleplaying, it has since then taken on non-fantasy and non-gaming elements. Characters in Munchkin change constantly but never permanently. What do Munchkins do? They play for the win. They are rules lawyers. They backstab. They gloat. They whine when someone else backstabs or gloats. Munchkins are emotional. Munchkins may be clever, but they are never wise. Munchkins have short attention spans. Munchkins may be brave in the face of awful odds, but they are even braver when beating up crippled goblins for their lunch money. If a Munchkin seems to show mercy, it’s because he was bored or distracted. After all, even stomping an ant helps you level up.
Plus, every first printing of every issue will ship with an exclusive card for the game.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

CREDIT: BOOM! / Archaia                    CREDIT: Oni Press

FEATHERS #1 (of 6) [Boom! / Archaia]
Jorge Corona (Writer/Artist)
In the footsteps of Archaia titles Rust, Iron, Will o’ the Wisp, and The Reason for Dragons, debut writer-artist Jorge Corona brings a brand-new voice to the comics industry with Feathers. A recluse boy born covered in feathers must help his first-ever friend, a young girl named Bianca, as she tries to return to her home beyond the slums of the Maze. They must dodge street gangs and child-snatchers along the way, and perhaps together will learn the secrets to his mysterious past.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

Monica Gallagher (Writer/Artist)
Beautiful, popular, and adored by all, Courtney, Amber, Tiffany, and Michelle can’t wait to graduate and take their place among the world’s elite. But when all their future plans are ruined, the girls have only one back-up plan: working as costumed princesses at the local amusement park. Unfortunately, increased gang activity has driven away all but the most loyal of customers. With the park on the verge of closing, the girls resolve to fight back, bring back their adoring customers, save the amusement park they never wanted to work at, and maybe learn something about themselves along the way.
B&W / 168 pgs / $19.99

CREDIT: Dynamite Comics/ King Features

Welcome to the King, Dynamite’s reboot of classic King Features newspaper strip heroes!
Each #1 is: FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

KING: FLASH GORDON #1 [Dynamite]
Ben Acker & Ben Blacker (Writers) • Lee Ferguson (Artist)
“He’s nothing but a man!”” Uncanny planets and enormous explosions and furious holograms and impossible bravery and galactic heists and savage guerillas and mysterious flobotanim and massive hangovers and grinning impossibility! get pumped for astounding fun!

Roger Langridge (Writer) • Jeremy Treece (Artist)
“It’s time to put on a show!” Impossible trickery and demonic destruction and heartbreaking villainy and witch doctoring and global catastrophe and smirking sleight-of-hand and dapper determination!

Nate Cosby (Writer) • Ron Salas (Artist)
“I’ll dare any adventure!” Brawling knights and Arthurian adversaries and mystical meddling and courageous chivalry and serpentine sorcery and withering valor and time-shifting adventurers and catastrophic confidence!

KING: THE PHANTOM #1 [Dynamite]
Brian Clevinger (Writer) • Brent Schoonover (Artist)
“What is The Phantom?” Two-fisted scrapping and rugged courage and unstoppable purpose and daring infiltration and breakneck combat and indestructible legacy and ghosts — who — walk! Prepare yourself for bulletproof brawling!

KING: JUNGLE JIM #1 [Dynamite]
Paul Tobin (Writer) • Sandy Jarrell (Artist)
“He is the forest!” Rustic wars and bestial bluster and unforgiving terrain and impossible origins and enigmatic abilities and creepy domiciles and really really really weird monkeys!

CREDIT: Valiant Comics                         CREDIT: Arlen Schumer

Fred Van Lente (Writer) • Clayton Henry (Artist)
Prehistoric empires! Dystopian futures! And everywhere in between! The past, present, and future of our universe are about to meet an untimely end, and only the mysterious Ivar Anni-Padda can prevent all three from collapsing in on themselves. Unstuck in time, and pursued by enemies simultaneously across every moment of his time-lost life, can the man called Timewalker save everything that ever was, is, and will be? Get ready for a clock-stopping odyssey into the distant past and far future as the most unlikely Valiant hero of all leaps into his first history-ripping mini-series adventure!?
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

Arlen Schumer (Writer/Designer) • Various (Artists)
The Silver Age of Comic Book Art is a coffee-table comic and art history book written and designed by comic book historian and illustrator Arlen Schumer. This edition is completely redesigned and reformatted to make it exactly what Schumer envisioned he always wanted it to be.  By creating a comic book history that reads like a comic book, Schumer succeeds spectacularly in making you see, as if for the first time, the comics you’ve been reading your whole life. The greatest comic book artists of their generation, who created some of their greatest work during the Silver Age of Comics (circa 1956-1970) are included in this body of work: Carmine Infantino, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Joe Kubert, Gene Colan, Jim Steranko, and Neal Adams!
The best book yet created examining comic book art of the Silver Age!
FC / 192 pgs / $49.99

Bob Bretall: Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

ComicSpectrum Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in Collecting, Comic Shops, Comics, Current Comics, Flying Below the Radar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween ComicFest 2014: A Great Day to Be A Fan

Halloween Comics Fest 2014

All Photos CREDIT: Bob Bretall

Another great comics holiday is over, the fall counterpart to Free Comic Book Day, Halloween ComicFest!  This one is still picking up steam, but shops that capitalize on it can make a splash with fans in their community.  I visited 3 shops and they had varying degrees of participation, I’ll talk about each and let you draw your own conclusions on how successfully the day was leveraged by each.

First the free comics: I ended up with 17 different comics.  The 15 pictured above and 2 I got in my regular order  from DCBS last week & forgot to include in the photo.  A couple of these appear to have been older ones that got brought out for the event.  I ended up with all 12 of the fill-sized comics for this year, and 3 of the 7 mini-comics (I didn’t get the Angry Birds, BOOM!, LBX, and Mermin comics).  I’ve read through these and overall a good batch of comics, most keeping with a Halloween theme and being all-ages accessible.  I’d call Extinction Parade, Grimm Fairy Tales, Rachel Rising, and Afterlife with Archie not really appropriate for kids, but all the others were.  I really liked the Black & White treatment in the Afterlife with Archie #1 reprint, really moody.  I was pleasantly surprised by Vamplets from Action Lab.  I really enjoyed this and am going to have to seek out some of these comics.  The Marvel & DC reprint choices were solid choices and should go over nicely with kids that have never read these before.  For myself, it was fun reading these stories again!  I also thought the Aspen comic was a fabulous offering for young kids and highly recommend it for anyone with little kids.  Lots of coloring & activities.

CT&T Free Comics

My first stop today was my regular LCS, Comics Toons’n’Toys in Tustin, CA.  You can see where they were handing out the comics in the picture above, 4 comics to a customer (& my wife was with me today so we got 8!)  A great atmosphere in general, lots of people,and they were running a spectacular sale that they had been promoting for a while.  50% & 75% off on a lot of things, plus lots of books and toys priced at $5, $3 and $1.

CT&T Artists

They had an “Artist’s Alley” set up out front with local creators selling prints, original art, and doing sketches.  Add the tremendous sale they were having and it was like attending a mini-convention!  There were a lot of people there, including kids in costumes (who got extra comics for being in costume) and there was a really fun/positive vibe.  This, in my opinion, is a shop taking full advantage of the event to drive sales and fan/customer involvement and generate good will.  Excellent!

CT&T sale

Here’s a sample of the stuff I got: The oversized Womanthology & Starstruck HCs were 75% off ($12.50 each), I got the Authority RPG and Bringing up Father HCs for $5 each, Pixu (with work by Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon, & Becky Cloonan) was $3, as were the HC Marvel Annual from the UK and the Maakies HC by Tony Millionaire.   I rounded this out with a Skyscrapers of the Midwest HC, Bayou TPB, and 3 comics creator interview HCs (Oeming, Doran & Talbot) all for $1 each!

PoA Pops

And, of course, I couldn’t resist these Planet of the Apes Pops for $5 each…

Comics Hideout

After lunch at our favorite BBQ joint (Smokey Fred’s in Orange, CA) my wife suggested we check out some shops in the area that I’d never been to before.  The Comic Shop Locator suggested 6 shops in the area, 3 of which I’d never been to before, so we were off!  The first stop was the Comic Book Hideout.  Absolutely no signage on the outside about Halloween ComicFest or about a sale, which is a HUGE missed opportunity, in my opinion.  On the plus side, as soon as we walked in we were greeted by a very friendly clerk who explained they were having a 50% off sale on all back issues and toys and that we could also help ourselves to 1 free ComicFest comic per customer.

I’ve never been to this shop before but I’ll be back!  Aside from their lack of advertisement for Halloween ComicFest they had a great sale running and a superb selection of back issues (for my purposes they had a deep stock of old indie books I NEVER see in comic shops).  Books like Baker Street (Caliber), Dirty Plotte (Drawn & Quarterly), Milk & Cheese (SLG), Palookaville (D&Q), Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman (I found the last 2 issues from Deep Sea that I’d been seeking for about 15 years!) and Chester Brown’s Yummy Fur.  Really obscure stuff, but comics gold to me.  I really appreciate a shop that stocks this kind of variety in their back issue bins.

Hideout Pinball

Overall a nice shop, they also had several cool pinball & arcade machines, as well as some couches where customers can sit & watch movies or read.  But poor advertising for Halloween ComicFest and as a result very light foot traffic in the store.  I was browsing back issues for about 90 minutes, very few people came into the store.  This shop is on a busy street with a local street fair going on about a half mile away.  Some signage or getting someone down at the fair should have been able to drive a lot more business into this shop today.

The next shop I went to (that I found on the ComicShopLocator) is no longer there, Zero to Hero Comics on Commonwealth in Fullerton.  Just an empty storefront & when I called the # they told me the shop was out of business & they were operating out of a stall at the Frank & Son warehouse show, so that was a bust.  So, on to the last shop, Comic Hero University near the Fullerton train station:


Looks pretty desolate, right?  At least there’s a sign about it being a comics shop.  Inside, no acknowledgement from the clerk who was embroiled in a conversation with a customer about the trailer to the X-Men movie.  They did have some Halloween ComicFest comics but I had to interject into the conversation and ask about them.  There were no sales of any kind going on that I could see and the clerk didn’t do anything to inform me about anything.  This shop was a complete lost opportunity as far as I could tell.  No advertising of the event.  No sale to leverage along with the event, and aside from the regular chatting about the Avengers movie trailer, no other customers…  I spent a decent amount of money at the sales in the 1st 2 shops I visited.  That was not repeated here.

My completely non-scientific observation of Halloween ComicFest was that stores get out of the event what they put into it.  Advertise.  Put up extra signage.  Host some kind of event, hold a sale.  These seemed to drive customer attendance and sales.  There were a LOT of people at Comics Toons’n’Toys who had done all of these things.  Very much fewer at the other shops that did not.  At least the sale got me to hang around and spend some money at the Comic Book Hideout and I’ll return to that store.  I see absolutely no reason to return to the Comic Book University.

At the end of the day (literally as I type this), I had a fun time at Halloween ComicFest and picked up a lot of great free comics as well as a lot of great comics on sale.  I have quite a lot of additional reading to catch up on, but I’m sure I’ll have a wonderful time doing it.  Now; 6 months until FCBD 2015!

Bob Bretall: Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

ComicSpectrum Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in Collecting, Comic Cons, Comic Shops, Comics, FCBD | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trip Report: Long Beach Comic Con 2014

LBCC crowd

Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

Another gorgeous weekend filled with comics, creators, and friends happened in sunny Long Beach, CA on September 27th & 28th, 2014.  Unfortunately I had to miss the majority of the day on Saturday due to a family commitment, but I did hit the con floor early to buy a big stack of back issues from one of the many great comics dealers who were there before leaving a bit before noon.  When I returned at 4pm, the scene above was what greeted me outside the main hall:  Clear blue skies and lots of people standing around chatting, both costumed and in regular clothes.

I’ve talked before about all the different experiences people can have at the same con, so my visit isn’t going to be exactly like the one experienced by anyone else.  As I said above, I come to a comic con for three things: Comics, Creators, & Friends (not necessarily in that order).

Comics 09-27

Comic stack Bob got on Saturday 9/27

Comics 09-28

109 tall comic stack Bob got on Sunday 9/28

Comics were readily available if you wanted them.  There were a number of dealers with older back issues, recent back issues, current comics, and creator-owned stuff being sold by the creators themselves in Artist’s Alley.  I picked up back issues (for full sticker price, less a negotiated discount), back issues from “50% off marked price” bins, back issues from $2 bins (there were $1 bins full of stuff I already have, but are great resources for people with less than 95,000 unique comics!).  I also got a few 50% off HC collections and some small-press creator owned stuff from the people in Artist’s Alley.  All-in-all, I couldn’t have hoped for a better comic buying experience, I bought stuff on both Saturday & Sunday.

Sandman-sketch Bloodshot-sketch
CREDIT: DC / Tone Rodriguez                       CREDIT: Valiant / David Baron

I missed a lot of the panels I wanted to see on Saturday since I wasn’t on-site during the majority of the day, but I did get a chance to chat with a lot of creators in Artist’s Alley, both creators I had met before and was able to catch up with, creators whose work I’ve read and enjoyed by never met before, and I met some new folks and got to discover some things I’d never seen before.  I dropped off a couple of sketch covers Saturday morning (Sandman with Tone Rodriguez and Unity with David Baron) and was able to pick up the finished sketches when I returned to the con in the late afternoon.  Getting artists to do sketches on blank comic covers is something I’ve become a big fan of over the past few years.  I love displaying these unique original pieces of art and comic cons are the best places to pick these up, direct from the artists, though you can buy them on eBay from people who get them just to re-sell.


Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

Another favorite of mine are the panels put on by what I’d consider to be “good cons”.  Long Beach had some GREAT selections this time around, and unfortunately I missed most of the ones I wanted to see, but I was able to catch a few on Sunday.  My favorite was How to Get Away With It: The Art of Writing Crime – Jamie S. Rich, Jimmy Palmiotti, Alec Siegel, and Kyle Higgins (pictured above) talked about their process for writing crime fiction; with POV discussions on criminals, cops, and detectives.  Alex Segura joined a bit late, but added some great insights to the panel nonetheless.  I really appreciate the variety of panels offered, they really appealed to my somewhat eclectic tastes.  My main worry is about having these kinds of panels repeat since most of the panels I attended were very poorly attended (10-20 people in the rooms).  I’m not sure if it was that the topics were not interesting to the attendees, if they just didn’t know the panels were going on, or if they mainly wanted to spend their limited time at the con on the show floor.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope we continue seeing a lot of variety.

However you slice it, if you’re at a con take some time to listen to creators, whether it’s at a panel or meeting them in person at a table/booth.  Go and talk to that favorite creator and let them know how much you enjoy their work!

LBCC Dinner

Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

This is something that has evolved over the years, but I love spending time with friends at comic conventions.  I have “con friends” who I have met over the years while waiting in line at a con, sitting in a panel, or know from on-line forums or Facebook.  When I find that we’re going to be at the same con I like to take some time to meet and chat with them, whether it’s just grabbing a few minutes to talk on the con floor, sitting together in a panel that we’re all interested in, or sharing a meal together after the show floor closes.

This year a group of 8 of us went to Famous Dave’s BBQ across the street from the convention center after the show closed (waiting for the table is pictured above) and we had a great time chatting about the show, comics, and life in general.

I usually talk about cons I’m going to on this Blog and on Facebook, if you see that I’m going to be at a show you’re attending & you’d like to meet, drop me a line at the e-mail address below!  I love to meet people who share my love of comics!

Long Beach was a great show for me, and I look forward to the Long Beach Comic Expo coming up Feb 28th & March 1st, 2015!  I’ll be there, will you?

Bob Bretall: Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

ComicSpectrum Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in Comic Cons, Comics, Comics Collection | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Blog: To Slab or Not to Slab Part 2 – CGC at Cons


3 Books Shawn had slabbed at WW Chicago 2014

When Bob and I discussed the “To Slab or Not To Slab…” article last month, we listed some reasons as to why you would want to get something slabbed. Last month I attended the Wizard World Chicago show and brought quite a few books to be graded since CGC was doing on-site grading which is extremely convenient since you don’t have to worry about their long turn around times and the added shipping charges.

I wanted to recap the highs, the lows and provide a little insight, and in some cases warnings, when getting your books 3rd Party graded, starting with the process itself.

When I arrived at the show Thursday night, the lines were pretty short since it was the beginning of the show.  It was my first stop so there wasn’t much of a rush. I brought a total of 20 books to be graded that ranged from Silver Age to Modern (Modern is considered 1975 and later).  Grading Modern and Bronze books cost $30 each at the show, while the pre-1975 books were $50 each (15 of the 20 I brought books fell into this category). So you can see there’s a decent cash investment you’ll have to make when grading your books that you will need to add to what you already invested when making the initial purchase.  If you plan on using CGC frequently, their services are cheaper when you become a member.  They have individual pricing and three different membership plans to choose from that range in price from $39 up to $275 per year.  Plans include discounts off the normal price and the higher tiers give a coupon for 4 “free” submissions.  You can also find a list of submission centers as well as the how to’s on their website.  I was able to save some money by submitting directly at the show, but although CGC does take submissions at most major conventions, they only do on-site grading at just a handful of shows each year, so keep in mind you will have to pay shipping charges as well.

I dropped off my books off Thursday night and most of them were ready Saturday which was a day earlier than promised so kudos to CGC for the quicker than expected return. Their customer service at the show was friendly and attentive, and they even corrected a mistake within 30 minutes, more on that in a bit. For now, let’s get into some of the books themselves. Let’s start with the bad…

I purchased a first appearance of Luke Cage in Hero for Hire, and a first appearance of The Falcon in Captain America. I paid $150 for the Hero for Hire and $100 for the Cap #117 Falcon appearance, both of them at the 2013 Wizard World Chicago show. Unfortunately they both came back in grades less than expected, and the Hero for Hire not only came back in a grade less than I thought, but also came back as having been restored!


Oops. Didn’t know this was restored when it was purchased.


The “Purple Label of Doom”!

When looking at the label you can see that it had a small amount of color touch, as well as a tear seal to the cover. This was of course sold to me unrestored, so after the cost of the book and the grading, trying to resell the book would result in a loss, and the purple label for a book of this age makes it less appealing to the eye. I recently purchased a 9.0 copy of this same book to have an unrestored and nicer book as part of my collection, not wanting to run the risk of purchasing a less than expected grade. I also know now to avoid this dealer at future shows as he had multiple copies of this issue last year, and I purchased what I thought was the nicest copy he had.  Did this dealer purposely sell me a restored copy?  Assuming positive intent I’m sure he didn’t as he may not have known himself, but when purchasing comics at prices above the $100 price point, not being able to spot restoration is a risk you can avoid by purchasing slabbed books, or by becoming a better grader and learning how to spot restoration yourself.


Nowhere near the grade that was expected.

In regards to the Captain America number 117, I thought the book would grade somewhere between 7.0-8.0 and it regrettably came back as a 5.0.  Now, CGC doesn’t tell you why the book graded as it did, and if you want to see the notes on why, there is an extra cost for that.  The last CGC 5.0 Captain America #117 sold on e-Bay for less than the asking price of $115, so you can see that I lost money on both of these books and it shows just how 3rd Party Grading could be a gamble where you actually lose money.  CGC does offer a pre-screening service where you can specify a minimum grade and they won’t slab anything below the specified grade.  That said, it requires a minimum submission of 50 books, so is probably mostly useful for dealers trying to get a bunch of 9.8 books to re-sell.

Getting Cap #117 back at a 5.0 grade let me know that I’m not as skilled a grader as I thought I was.  There’s plenty of resources out there to help you become a better grader, and before submitting to CGC, I’d encourage you to use some of those resources and try to be as discerning as possible when purchasing un-slabbed books if your intent is to eventually have them graded as high grade “investment” books.

In the next installment we’ll provide a little more insight into services, including pressing which I had done for the first time, accuracy of CGC’s grading, and the mix -up when it came to grading a first appearance of Black Panther in Fantastic Four #52.

Shawn Hoklas: Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

ComicSpectrum Comic Blog Elite  Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in Collecting, Comic Cons, Comics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Give Away Comics on Halloween!

HCF14 Poly bag Comics_group

I’ve been giving away comics on Halloween for almost 20 years now.  It started when I had a job designing the new magazine distribution software at the Aramark Book & Magazine Distribution Division in 1995 and they would let us take a bunch of comics home around Halloween.  After I left that job I would haunt quarter bins during the year and get kid-friendly comics on the cheap and hand those out on Halloween.  One year I stumbled on a dealer who had purchased a huge mass of comics from another shop going out of business and was selling long boxes for $20. I stocked up on a bunch of comics with the express purpose of giving them away.

Let me stress that “kid friendly” part above again.  Know what you’re giving away.  Personally I don’t want irate parents knocking on my door for giving out some comic with violent/sexual content, and you can’t rely on just being able to give away super-hero books because there is plenty of content in current mainstream Marvel/DC that parents might object to when given to little kids.  That said, if you can find cheap Marvel/DC from the 1980s and before, they’re generally OK for kids.  I try to have 2 pile of comics: “little kids” and “older pre-teen/teen”

Another thing I learned is to not put children in the mental dilemma of having to choose either candy OR a comic.  I give 1 comic and 1 piece of candy to each kid.  My house became known as “the house that gives away comics”.   By the middle of the evening as word gets out, kids will ring the doorbell, yell “Tick or TREAT!” and then say “Is this the house with the comics?”

Making this easier is Diamond Comics, who has been selling packs of mini comics (like the ones pictured above) for several years.  I’ve been picking up a couple of these packs each year they have been offered and they supplement the comics I hand out.


Now, for the 3rd year, we have Halloween ComicFest, a great fall-time counterpart to Free Comic Book Day that occurs the Saturday before Halloween.  Another great opportunity to gather at local shops that take advantage of this event to host sales, costume contests, and other comics community building activities.

Diamond Comic Distributors announces a celebration of comics, comic shops, and pop-culture in October with the third annual Halloween ComicFest (HCF) event! Communities are encouraged to check out their local comic shop and get free comics while also participating in shop’s special Halloween events such as costume contests, sales, character appearances and more on Saturday, October 25th, 2014!

During Halloween ComicFest, adults and kids can go into a local participating comic shop and get free Halloween and horror themed comics and mini-comics published specifically for Halloween ComicFest. This year there are 19 titles available to choose from that are great for kids and adults with twelve full-sized comics and seven mini-comics. Titles for this year include: DC’s Scooby Doo Team-Up with Batman #1, Marvel’s Secret Wars #1, Afterlife with Archie #1, My Little Pony, Hero Cats, Rachel Rising and other haunting and fun tales.

Designed to celebrate comic shops as unique community businesses, and reach new customers, Halloween ComicFest helps retailers and the entire industry springboard into the end of the year holiday selling season. Comic fans are encouraged to check out over the coming weeks for more information on the event and local retailer activities.

I’m going to be hitting up my local shop on October 25th, there are several comics for an older audience that I have my eye on.  The the following Friday there will be comics handed out at the Bretall household yet again…

The first one is free kid!  I like introducing a new generation of kids to comics.  Join me in spreading the word and give away comics on Halloween this year!

Bob Bretall: Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

ComicSpectrum Comic Blog Elite  Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in Collecting, Comics | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flying Below the Radar: October 2014


This is a Blog I do once a month as I read through the advance solicits for comics shipping in two months.  Every month your local comic shop (LCS) places orders with Diamond Comics for what comics will be on their rack two months down the road.  That means in October they’re ordering the things that they’ll be selling in December, 2014.

This month we have a lot of great items that could have flown below your radar!  The United Federation of Planet of the Apes!  Fabulous examples of art showcased by IDW yet again!  A whole bunch of great Darwyn Cooke covers from DC!  Alan Moore comes back to comics!  2 separate cult movie icons!  Check out these and many more comics that could have easily flown below your radar!  I cover lots of cool stuff that you may miss if you’re not reading though all the solicits like I do…  I scour the solicits so you don’t have to!

Comic shop owners are typically aware of the books from the big publishers particularly superhero stuff and “hot” indie books (usually AFTER they become hot) - beyond that there are no guarantees.  Even if they know about a particular comic they may not order it to put out on their racks.  I keep track of advance solicits that get posted on-line on the ComicSpectrum website each month, if there is something you really want that’s not guaranteed to be on the rack (like Batman or Avengers), you should consider letting your comic shop know you’re interested so they’ll know to order it.

Most of the items shown here are things you may not see on the racks in every comic shop.  If it looks cool to you, make sure you ask your LCS to order it.  Heck, start a pull list at your shop and add the books you’re interested in so your shop will save them for you and you don’t have to worry about them selling out.

CREDIT: IDW Publishing                         CREDIT: IDW Publishing

Scott & David Tipton (Writers) • Rachael Stott (Artist)
It’s the crossover nobody ever expected! STAR TREK: The hope for the best of mankind’s future! PLANET OF THE APES: A chilling look at the fall of humanity! How could these worlds possibly collide? What could possibly cause Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise to side with Dr. Zaius to protect Ape City? And what does Colonel George Taylor have to say about it? It’s a madhouse! A madhouse!!
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

Paul Allor, Erik Burnham (Writers) • Ross Campbell (Artist)
The Turtles become unstuck in time and go spinning into the past! No time period is safe in this epoch-spanning epic! Some truly outstanding art by Ross Campbell!
FC / 104 pgs / $17.99

CREDIT: IDW Publishing                            CREDIT: IDW Publishing

Stan Lee (Writer) • John Romita, Sr. (Artist)
This is it, the John Romita Spider-Man book fans have been waiting for — Nearly 200 pages of prime John Romita Spider-Man art from his very earliest days on the title, and every single one is scanned from the original art! This over-sized (it’s as big as the recent STERANKO Artist’s Edition) Artifact Edition showcases the absolute peak of Romita’s tenure on Amazing Spider-Man from his first 15 issues (#39-53), and all are twice-up pages — this one is an enormous 15″ x 22″ tome! NOTE: An Artifact Edition is similar to an “Artist’s Edition” but does not present complete issues, typically because all of the art was not able to be located and scanned.
FC reproduction of B&W art / 200 pgs / ~$140

Dave Sim & Gerhard (Artists)
Dave Sim is one of the most important cartoonists in comics history. His groundbreaking Cerebus ran for 300 issues, each written and drawn by Sim — a monumental achievement! Now, through IDW Publishing, Sim’s beautiful covers are reproduced in an archival over-sized hardcover, and many of the illustrations have been scanned from Sim’s personal collection of his original art. Also collected are roughs, color guides, sketches, and other historical images that chronicle this very important artist’s creative process.
FC / 432 pgs / $75


Darwyn Cooke (Artist)
This December, DC will be releasing 23 different variant covers rendered by Darwyn Cooke and each will be a separately orderable “common variant” so let your LCS know if you want these.  Each cover is presented as a landscape image running horizontally on the front of the comic. And rather than sticking to just the New 52 character designs, Cooke will be providing a mix of contemporary designs and the Silver Age throwback style seen in comics like DC: The New Frontier.
The variant covers will be offered for the following comics and should be sold for normal cover price by any reputable comic shop:
Action Comics #37, Aquaman #37, Batgirl #37, Batman #37, Batman & Robin #37, Batman/Superman #17, Catwoman #37, Detective Comics #37, Flash #37, Harley Quinn #13, He-Man: The Eternity War #1, Grayson #5, Green Lantern #37, Green Lantern Corps #37, Justice League United #7, Justice League #37, Justice League Dark #37, Teen Titans #5, Sinestro #8, Supergirl #37, Superman #37, Superman/Wonder Woman #14, Wonder Woman #37

bitchplanet_01a theyrenotlikeus_01
CREDIT: Image Comics                             CREDIT: Image Comics

Kelly Sue DeConnick (Writer) • Valentine De Leandro (Artist)
2014 Best Writer Eisner Award nominee KELLY SUE DeCONNICK (PRETTY DEADLY, Captain Marvel) and VALENTINE DE LANDRO (X-Factor) team up for the very third time to bring you the premiere issue of BITCH PLANET, their highly-anticipated women-in-prison sci-fi exploitation riff. Think Margaret Atwood meets Inglourious Basterds.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.50

Eric Stephenson (Writer) • Simon Gane & Jordie Bellaire (Artists)
Eisner-nominated NOWHERE MEN writer ERIC STEPHENSON teams up with red-hot artist SIMON GANE for an all-new ongoing series! We all have advantages over one another, but what if you were capable of things most of us can only imagine? What would you do – and who would you be? A doctor? An athlete? A soldier? A hero? Everyone has to make a choice about how to use the abilities they’re born with… but they’re not like us.
FC / 24 pgs / $2.99

CREDIT: Image Comics                             CREDIT: Image Comics

Stjepan Sejic (Writer/Artist)
Two women deal with modern themes of sex, relationships, and fetishism in this erotic romantic comedy. So beware all who enter, because, to quote a few hundred thousand readers on DeviantArt: “I’m not into BDSM…but this story…I get it.”
FC / 128 pgs / $14.99

Jay Faerber (Writer) • Fran Bueno (Artist)
Reunited after their memorable run on the critically acclaimed NOBLE CAUSES, JAY FAERBER and FRAN BUENO bring you a new tale of crime, horror, and romance! It’s Fright Night-style thrills and Castle-style crime-solving as a homicide detective and his girlfriend find their love put to the ultimate test when they run afoul of a gang of vampires!
FC / 32 pgs / $3.50

CREDIT: Archie Comics                                     CREDIT: Future Dude

various (Writer) • various (Artist)
There’s always room for more merriment from Archie and his pals ‘n’ gals! Get ready for 1000 more mega-pages of hijinx and hilarity! For over seven decades, Archie and his friends have been making everyone laugh, with their dating hijinx and misadventures at Riverdale High School! Everything’s Archie in the largest Archie collection series EVER—offered at an incredible value price!
FC / 1000 pgs / $14.99

Jeffrey Morris & Fredrick Haugen (Writers) • Christopher Jones (Artist)
Take a thrilling ride across the Multiverse with Agent Nick Morgan, a super-soldier gone rogue, as he fights to prevent the evil Ascendancy from enslaving alternate Earths! For over 40 years, the Ascendancy has pillaged other worlds—now its sights are set on us!
This title “flew below my radar” until Adam reviewed it on ComicSpectrum. Now I’m pre-ordering issues!
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

CREDIT: Avatar Press                              CREDIT: Avatar Press

Alan Moore (Writer) • Gabriel Andrade (Artist)
Set in the world of Crossed but leaping 100 years into the future of the epidemic outbreak that has set uninfected humanity fighting for their lives against animalistic hoards of attackers. This new project is Crossed +100, and not only has Moore written the series, he has even personally designed the covers for this new take on apocalypse and survival. Moore became interested in the Crossed series via friend Garth Ennis, and the two, speculating about what the future might hold for humanity and for the planet itself, came to conclusions that spurred Moore into authorship on the new series. Moore examines the logic, and even science, behind a Crossed future, the world he envisions, and how a lack of information may well be as great a threat to human culture as the epidemic itself.  Read an interview with Moore about the series here.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

Alan Moore (Writer) • Juan Jose Ryp (Artist)
One of the seminal works from the writer who defined modern comics, ALAN MOORE, is re-mastered for the first time in breathtakingly vibrant color! Alan Moore’s performance works making up the play Another Suburban Romance are translated into print and lavishly illustrated as full sequential stories. Comprised of three major pieces, adapted from Moore’s original presentations by frequent collaborator Antony (Fashion Beast) Johnston, this original graphic novel is completely illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp. Running from the 1920′s Chicago style killings in Old Gangsters Never Die, to the ruminations on modern life in the namesake piece Another Suburban Romance, this powerful work is an essential piece of the Alan Moore graphic novel library that no fan will want to miss!
FC / 64 pgs / $9.99

CREDIT: Valiant                                           CREDIT: BOOM!/Archaia

THE VALIANT #1 [Valiant]
Jeff Lemire & Matt Kindt (Writers) • Paulo Rivera (Artist)
For thousands of years, the Eternal Warrior has stood as the guardian of the Valiant Universe. A protector of the enigmatic Geomancers — powerful wizards who help shape humanity’s future — the Eternal Warrior has sacrificed everything when called upon to do so. And now he must do so again.
Kay McHenry — the newest Geomancer — is lost in her new role. Little does she know that the Immortal Enemy — a vicious, force of nature with a penchant for chaos — has her in his crosshairs. His return marks a new era of darkness. Now Bloodshot — and the rest of the heroes of the Valiant Universe — must band together to stop this unprecedented force of destruction.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

ROCKET SALVAGE #1 (OF 6) [BOOM!/Archaia]
Yehudi Mercado (Writer) • Bachan (Artist)
Primo Rocket used to be the fastest speeder-racer in the galaxy, but after a crash that sealed the fate of his space-station-city home, Rio Rojo, Primo has resigned himself to life as a lowly spaceship salvage yard owner. However, his two “kids”–harvest clone Beta, and Beta’s genius girl-clone Zeta–can’t seem to keep out of trouble. When the dysfunctional family suddenly becomes the target of an intergalactic manhunt, the family has to come together to save their home.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

BOOM_Escape_From_New_York_001_B BOOM_Eternal_001_A
CREDIT: BOOM! Studios                          CREDIT: BOOM! Studios

Christopher Sebela (Writer) • Diego Barreto (Artist)
The crime rate in the United States has risen 400 percent. After humiliating the President in front of the world and destroying America’s one chance to end World War III, Snake Plissken has become America’s Most Wanted man in a land of criminals and the insane. Everyone wants Snake dead. Luckily, Snake knows the feeling all too well. War hero. Outlaw. Renegade. Snake’s back!
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

Willaim Harms (Writer) • Giovanni Valletta (Artist)
In a world of clones, the Human Liberation Army wants to free people from New Life’s grasp. Their leader Gail will take the most drastic, personal measures yet to do so. Rathmann, a former homicide detective turned New Life enforcer, is on the case, and is asking tough questions. Violet, a young girl and one of the few non-cloned humans (Pures, they’re called) left, is longing to enter the real world. But she has no idea the danger she is stepping into.
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

CREDIT: Dynamite                                    CREDIT: Dynamite

SHAFT #1 [Dynamite]
David Walker (Writer) • Bilquis Evely (Artist)
Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine with all the chicks? Shaft! Created by author Ernest Tidyman, and made famous in a series of novels and films, iconic hero Shaft makes his comic book debut in an all-new adventure. He’s gone toe-to-toe with organized crime bosses, stood up to the cops, squared off against kidnappers, and foiled assassination attempts. But who was John Shaft before he became the hardboiled investigator with a reputation as big as New York City itself?
FC / 32 pgs / $3.99

David Walker (Writer) • Kewber Baal (Artist)
Known as the cousin of world famous adventurer Doc Savage, Pat Savage wants nothing more than to prove she has what is takes to be a hero. What starts out as a thankless job as a babysitter, soon turns into an epic life-and-death struggle that finds Pat squaring off against sinister forces. It’s a double-size tale of two-fisted action starring the first lady of pulp adventure, Pat Savage, Woman of Bronze.
FC / 48 pgs / $7.99

Bob Bretall: Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

ComicSpectrum Comic Blog Elite  Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in Collecting, Comics, Flying Below the Radar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Long Beach Comic Con 2014: Bob’s Panel Picks


Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

It’s Fall again and that means a beautiful weekend of comics and fun in Long Beach, CA!  This year the LBCC team have put together a wonderful schedule of panels and I’m looking forward to quite a lot.  The full LBCC 2014 schedule can be downloaded here.  I’m going to try to attend as many of the panels listed below as I can, if you’re at LBCC keep an eye out for me & say “Hi!”  There are LOTS more panels about topics that I’m not that interested in but might be your favorites, so make sure to check out the full schedule.

EDIT: I just found out that I have a family commitment on Saturday and will have to leave the Con at 12pm.  I’m going to try to make it back for the Valiant panel at 4:30pm.

Saturday Panels
12:00 – 1:00 (Rm 103C) - Aspen Comics – Join Aspen Comics staff and creators as they highlight upcoming releases for 2014 and beyond, including The ZooHunters, Lola XOXO: Volume 2, Lola XOXO: The Wasteland Madam and more. Aspen will also be hosting a one-on-one Q&A with fans as well.
On the panel: Frank Mastromauro, Peter Steigerwald, Vince Hernandez, Mark Roslan, Josh Reed, Lori Hanson, Paolo Pantalena, and David Wohl.

1:00 – 2:00 (Rm 103A/B) - Batman 75/Tales of the Dark Knight – Pop culture’s most infamous name turned 75 in 2014. Long Beach Comic Con celebrates the first appearance of the caped crusader by bringing together an all-star line up of creators who have shaped various aspects of the Batman mythology. Fans are invited to share their favorite Bat-stories with some of the Bat-universe’s brightest creative minds. Join Marc Andreyko, Brian Buccellato, Chris Burnham, Kyle Higgins, upcoming Batgirl artist Babs Tarr, Marv Wolfman, and one of the newest Batman writers KROQ’s Ralph Garman.

2:00 – 3:00 (Rm 103A/B)Image Comics is Everything – an all-star packed disscussion about the decision to go creator owned. Marc Bernardin, Chris Burham, Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, Ken Kristensen, Corrina Bechko, Gabriel Hardman, and Dustin Nguyen share details about their Image Comics books that touch every genre of the industry.

3:30 – 4:30 (Rm 101A)Talking with Jimmy Palmiotti – The most outspoken champion of the comic book industry lets the fans in to find out what makes Jimmy tick. Join an intimate afternoon with Jimmy Palmiotti as he bonds with you over comics, music, movies, and cats.

4:30 – 5:30 (Rm 101A) -Valiant Comics: Armor Hunters, The Valiant & Beyond! – Hot off the heels of 16 nominations at this year’s Harvey Awards – including six for the industry’s most nominated series, QUANTUM AND WOODY –find out why Valiant is one of the most talked-about publishers in comics today! Join the team right here for an in-depth discussion about the future of X-O MANOWAR, UNITY, RAI, HARBINGER, ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, and more with Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani, Sales Manager Atom! Freeman and more – Plus: get your first look inside THE VALIANT – the new self-contained mini-series event coming this winter from superstar creators Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and Paolo Rivera!

Stuff I’d LIKE to go to but probably won’t because it’s schedule up against the above, having a lot of extra stuff I can’t make it to is a GOOD sign, it means there’s a lot to choose from):
1:30 – 2:30 (Rm 102B/C) – Doing it Raw with RAW Studios (w/ Tim Bradstreet)
1:30 – 2:30 (Rm 101) – Nocturnals (w/ Dan Brereton)
4:00 – 5:00 (Rm 103A/B) – Every Jughead has His Day: The Legacy of Archie Comics
4:30 – 5:30 (Rm 103C) – We Are BOOM!

5:00 – 6:00 (Rm 103C) – Fialkov on Fialkov


Sunday Panels
12:30 – 1:30 (Rm 102B/C)How to Get Away With It: The Art of Writing Crime – Join Kyle Higgins, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jamie S. Rich, Alec Siegel, and Alex Segura as they talk about the most addictive genre of writing. Learn just how far a writer has to go when coming up with the perfect crime.

2:00 – 3:00 (Rm 103A/B)Psychology of Harley Quinn – Andrea Letamendi has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She’s a mental health scientist, speaker, advocate–and a Psychologist to Gotham’s crime fighters. At Long Beach Comic Con she’ll be joined by the superstar team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner as they examine the mind of the complex Harley Quinn.

3:30 – 5:00 (Rm  104A)Afterlife with Archie – The creative minds behnid Archie’s recent event talk about the book and what’s in store for this pop culture icon with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

Bob Bretall: Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

ComicSpectrum Comic Blog Elite  Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in Comic Cons, Comics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment