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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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What Comics Share Your Birthday?


Super-Hero comics composite created by Bob Bretall for March, 1962 – All Comics CREDIT their respective Publishers

A few years back I was sitting around looking at some of my favorites comics and it occurred to me that one of my all time favorite comics (Justice League of America #10; “The Fantastic Fingers of Felix Faust”) was actually cover-dated the very month that I was born (March, 1962).  That got me to thinking – What other comics shared my birth month?

At that point I was only a ComicBookDb search away from figuring out a WHOLE BUNCH of comics that were cover-dated with my birth month.  From there, with a bit of editing, I had tribute image shown above.  One thing that was interesting was that there was only one single Marvel super-hero comic on the stands the month I was born, Fantastic Four #3. I actually have a copy of this issue, a friend gave his beat-up copy (probably Good-) to me when he upgraded his to one in a better condition probably close to 20 years ago now when I remarked about how I always thought that issue had a particularly cool cover. I was not cognizant of it being from the month of my birth until I did the search on March 1962 comics that spawned this blog (this all started out as a thread on the 11 O’Cl0ock forums back in 2010) but I remember being drawn to that issue of FF in particular all those years ago. I also picked up my copy of Green lantern #11 years before I came anywhere close to filling in the rest of my GL run.  Why was I drawn to these comics in particular before I ever did the search to see that they shared a cover-date with my birth?  Kind of strange….

It also occurred to me you could go two different ways with this.  Do you want comics that are cover dated with the month/year of your birth or comics that initially went on sale on the month/year of your birth?  Check out the “Newsstand Time Machine” on Mike’s Amazing World of Comics site:
This will let you search for comics by either “on sale” or “cover date” month & year.  Neither way is wrong, this is for your own enjoyment, so do whichever way you think works best for you!  If your birthday is early in the month, a comic on sales in the same month you were born may actually have come out after you were born, while any comic cover-dated with your birth month/year actually went on sales some time about 2 months earlier and was likely still on spinner racks somewhere on the day you were born (the cover date is when they were supposed to be taken off sale).  Personally, since I was born in March, I like seeing the “MAR”  on the covers of the ones cover-dated with the month of my birth instead of seeing “MAY” which would be on the comics that actually hit the racks in March.

In any event, I thought this was a cool idea and thought I’d share it. Anyone else should feel free to create their own “Birthday/Comics” images, I’d love to see yours!


  • ComicCollectorLive is a great site that I use to browse for comic covers.  I also used ComicBookDb
  • I reduced all the covers in size to 150 pixels wide to allow me to build a uniform composite image (you can use whatever dimension you want)
    This can be done without fancy software using Paint on my PC or
  • I stitched the individual reduced images together using good old-fashioned cut-and-paste and Paint that comes free with Windows, no fancy software needed!

For folks who are not into the whole “Super-Hero Thing”…

“Comics that Share My Birthday” (March, 1962 – Humor edition)


Humor comics composite created by Bob Bretall for March, 1962 – All Comics CREDIT their respective Publishers

“Comics that Share My Birthday” (March, 1962 – Romance edition)


Romance comics composite created by Bob Bretall for March, 1962 – All Comics CREDIT their respective Publishers

Bob Bretall: Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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INTERVIEW: 2015 Guinness World Record: Largest collection of comic books


CREDIT: Guinness World Records

“It’s in the record books”

A phrase I’ve heard numerous times in my life now it’s true about me, I’m on page 172 of the 2015 book!  From the Guinness Press Release:

Since the age of 8, Californian, Bob Bretall amassed 94,268 unique comic books as of May 1, 2014. Bretall’s collection weighs an estimated 8.3 tons – as much as 118 adult men! The 52-year old has said he will never sell any of his comics, and will “leave that to [his] kids when it becomes their inheritance to do with as they will” — though he hopes they will keep at least a few in remembrance!

This has hit a bunch of web-sites around the internet, I’ve been tracking them on the ComicSpectrum site, but let me know if you see a mention somewhere that I’ve missed!

They didn’t publish the entire interview I did with them in the Press release I saw.  Since I have that information (I wrote it, after all) let me reproduce it here:


I try to distinguish myself as a private collector, since there are people who own comic book businesses and are actively buying/selling comics who have far more comics than my 94,268 (actually 1000 or so more since I did my record verification with Guinness on May 1, 2014).

A comic dealer has inventory, in my opinion, NOT a collection. My comics are not an asset of a store/business and I have actually read 90-95% of them. I also bought them as individual comics and not as bulk buys of “I will buy 100 long boxes of comics for pennies a comic” like many people who are in the business of comics do to build up their back-stock.

It is also useful to note that my record number of comics are all unique/different comics and does not count/include duplicates. When a store claims to have 1 million comics you can bet that there are a tremendous number of duplicate issues in that total and that total will continually go up & down as they sell inventory and then buy up comics to replenish that inventory. My number goes in only one direction. UP!

How old are you and where are you from?
I’m 52 and currently live in Mission Viejo, CA (about 60 miles south of Los Angeles). I was born in LA and have lived my entire life in Southern California.

What is your occupation?
I work at a software company that creates apps for mobile devices. I am in charge of all program management and software process. I have both a Bachelors and Masters degree in Computer Science.

When did your fascination with comic books – and collecting memorabilia – start?
8 years old. I had read the occasional comic book before I was 8, but it was at that age that I discovered my passion for comics and started collecting them every month.

What was the first comic book that started your collection?
Amazing Spider-Man #88 by Stan Lee (writer) and John Romita, Sr. (artist). I have not missed a month of buying comics since then (around July 1970).

What is the most expensive and valuable comic book you own?
Sorry. I do not like to emphasize the monetary aspects of collecting comics. Too many stories about comics collecting focus on how many $$ everything is worth instead of the great stories and characters. I do not do it for the money and I don’t try to rationalize it as an investment and I’m not into it to make money, I have a regular job that pays the bills just fine. I’m never going to sell any of my comics, I’ll leave that to my kids when it becomes their inheritance to do with as they will (though I hope they’ll keep at least a few of them as a remembrance).

What is your favorite comic book and one you could never part with?
I’m never parting with any of them, but my favorite is the one that started it all, Amazing Spider-Man #88. It’s actually a replacement copy, since I really thrashed the original copy I had when I was 8, reading it hundreds of times and cutting out the Spider-Man picture. The copy I have now has been in my collection since the early 1980s and I’ve had it autographed by both Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr.

Is there a particular comic book that you really want to own but don’t currently?
Amazing Fantasy #15, the 1st appearance of Spider-Man. I have every other appearance of Spider-Man except this one. Unfortunately, it’s too expensive at this point, I wish I had bought a copy 25 years ago.  I have plenty of reprint versions of this issue, but having an original would be nice.

Who is your favorite comic book character?
My favorite comic character of ALL TIME would have to be Spider-Man. Since he is the character who got me into collecting I have some loyalty to the character.
I would like to emphasize that there are a LOT of things besides super-hero comics out there. Only about 25% of the current comics I read are super-hero comics.

My favorite comic right now is Saga (from Image comics) by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples.  My current favorite Publisher is Image Comics, I get about 40 comics a month published by Image.
My top 12 comics at any given point in time can be found on my web-site here:

And your worst?
There are no bad characters, only poorly executed stories. Any character can be great given the right creative team.

What is your favorite comic book film adaptation?
Avengers.  (Well, since I originally did this interview, Avengers has been replaced by Guardians of the Galaxy)

Where do you keep your comic book collection?
The bulk is in my garage. I have racks that hold all the comic boxes. I do keep some of it up in my comic book room. You can see pictures here (scroll about half way down the page):

How do you keep track of your collection?
I use the ComicBase database software and have been for many years.  While there are lots of different collection programs out there, I find that this one works best for my collection of 95,000 comics and at this point I wouldn’t want to re-enter all those comics in another program!

As I read comics, I put them in a long box.  When that long box is filled it is alphabetized and entered into the database where we note which box any given comic is in.  This makes it fairly easy to find any comic in my collection using the database.  I use the software when we were verifying my collection for Guinness.  There were a lot of random books in my collection called out to verify that I really had all the comics I say I have.  “Show me Amazing Spider-Man #50″.  I’d go to the box it was supposed to be in, riffle through the books to the proper location in alphabetic order, and there it was!

Are you still collecting? When will you ever stop?
Yes, I currently buy 140+ new comics every month and also collect a variable number of back issues every month. You can see what I’m currently buying each month on my website here:

In addition to my comics I have hundreds of comics-related statues on display in my comic room. I have over 300 Marvel comic busts from Bowen Designs and 100s of other assorted busts and statues from other manufacturers. I have 500+ action figures that are no longer on display and are in boxes in my garage. In addition to that I have numerous pages of original comic art, sketches, and other related items/toys. You can see a lot of this stuff in the pictures on the “Comic Room” link provided above.

What do your friends and family think to your collection?
My family is quite supportive of my hobby. My wife & I have been married for 29 years and she knew I was a comic book reader/collector from the time we started dating. She does not read comics, but helps me organize my collection. She actually enters all the comics into my comic book database each month after I have read them! That is love!
My two sons have grown up with comics their whole lives. My older son reads about 30 titles per month from what I buy and is a big fan of web-comics. My younger son is more of a manga/anime fan than of traditional American comics.
The majority of my friends are also comic book readers/collectors, so they’re generally just in awe of my collection.
I try to share my love for comics through my website ( ) which is a “not for profit” hobby of mine. I know a LOT about comics, collecting, and the comics industry and I try to share as much information as I can with others.

How does it feel to make it into the Guinness World Records book?
It is AWESOME to be in the Guinness World Records book. Getting this record is the most extraordinary thing that has happened to me in my collecting career so far.
Whenever hear about a record like this, it’s very common for them to say “I know a guy who knows a guy who has WAY more comics”. My response is that records are made to be broken, and those people with more comics should be applying to Guinness to break my record! Just remember, you cannot count duplicate comics!!

And then there were additional questions asked on Facebook today on some of the threads talking about my record that I thought I’d take some time to answer here:

Look at how he treats his comics, they’re all over the floor (referring to the picture in the Guinness Press release)
Well, obviously I don’t keep my comics all over the floor!  That was staged for visual impact when the Guinness folks were at my house.  It took a while to get them all put back away after the Guinness folks left.  Also, my room is not painted the super-hero blue you see in the press release photo, that was added via photoshop for visual “pop”.

How do you find time to read 140+ comics every month?
It’s actually not very hard at all.  That breaks down to about 35-40 comics a week, which is 5 or 6 a day.  I read at least 2 or 3 every day (I write comic reviews on the ComicSpectrum review Blog so need to keep up on stuff).  I also catch up on comics reading on the weekends.  It’s easy for me to read 20+ on a Saturday.
Look at it this way, I can read 40 comics(what I read in a week)  in about the same amount of time that it takes to watch 2 football games (and I don’t watch football).  Nobody every asks a sports fan how in the world they can manage to find the time to watch a couple of football games each weekend!!
I’m not knocking people who watch sports. If that is enjoyable to you it’s a great use of your time. Reading comics is enjoyable to me & I use the time I don’t spend watching football to read my massive pile of comics.

But 140+ books a month, how do you keep all those storylines straight in your head?
Good question!  The main thing that helps here is that I try to read a lot of variety.  I found that when I was reading a lot more super-hero books that the stories all started blending together in my head.  That’s not to say they are all the same, Charles Soule’s She Hulk is very different from Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, and that helps me keep them straight.  So, in addition to trying to read super-hero books that each have a very different “voice” to the storytelling, I read many genres of indie books.  Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga, Matt Kindt’s Mind Mgmt, Brian Wood’s The Massive, Ed Brubaker’s The Fade Out. Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising.  These are all so different that I have no trouble at all keeping them straight in my head.

Do you collect trades?
Of course.  I have almost all of the Marvel Masterworks and DC Archives,  Another Rainbow’s Carl Barks Library and Russ Cochran’s Complete EC Library ans 100s of others.  I prefer hardcovers nowadays.

How/where do you spend all that money on comics?
First, I get a pretty good deal on my new comics from Discount Comic Book Service.  I’ve been with them for 9 years and they’ve been great to me.  I also visit a local shop in Orange County, CA – Comics Toons N’ Toys – pretty much every week.  They have a fabulous selection of new comics, they carry pretty much everything that comes out and offer a discount off cover price on every new comic sold!  I talk about a lot of the places to buy back issues (that I buy every month) on the ComicSpectrum site.
Second, I have been collecting for 44 years, this collection didn’t appear overnight.  When my kids were little and money was tight I was absolutely not buying 140 comics per month.  I cut back to probably 20 or so titles for a number of years.  Providing for my family has always come first.  But now, with one son out of college & in the workforce and the other nearing college graduation, I have the luxury of being able to buy more comics.  I don’t spend money on a lot of other stuff, this is what I enjoy.

Is your collection insured?

Do you buy bags & boards every week?
I buy them by the 1000 about every 3 months (It’s a bit cheaper that way) .  You can check out my blog with more info on bags/boards/boxes here.

Collecting is for fun not a competition!
I agree. I stumbled into this record when I realized that Guinness World Records had not yet created a category for largest comics collection.  I didn’t set out to have this big a collection when I was 8.
I submitted, did all the necessary work documenting & verifying my collection and am the 1st person to hold this particular record with Guinness.
I fully expect someone to surpass me, but do the work!  Don’t just shout out on internet message boards that “I have more comics than that guy”

Other Questions?  Post a comment below!

Bob Bretall: Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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