SDCC 2018: Thursday July 19

Across the tracks

Dropped off by the bus across the tracks from the Convention Center

With Preview night behind me, it was time to dive into the convention proper, and what I was REALLY interested in was attending a lot of panels.  As I’ve said before, there are numerous convention experiences that can be tailored to each person. I’ve mostly had my fill of wandering the crowded show floor and I really love seeing creators talking about their experiences in and around the comics industry.  They’re something that is not provided at many conventions, at least not in anywhere near the quantity and diversity of SDCC, so I like taking advantage of the opportunity.


L to R: Mark Evanier, Maggie Thompson, RC Harvey, Scott Brick

Panel #1: Spotlight on Maggie Thompson
Maggie’s spotlight this year consisted of talking about the late lamented Comics Buyer’s Guide, which is where I was first exposed to her work and in those pre-internet days the CBG was an invaluable news source about the world of comics..
Scott Brick wrote what Maggie calls the most popular article ever in CBG, the one on (spoiler alert) who REALLY killed Gwen Stacy…
(Spoiler spoiler alert… it was Gerry Conway. He never really liked Gwen.)
Long time fans may recall that CBG was cancelled by Krause and last issue was 1699, I
learned in this panel that Alter Ego #122 (from TwoMorrows) was what WOULD have been CBG #1700…. I’m going to have to track that issue down!


L to R: Scott Dunbier, Joe Jusko


Panel #2: Spotlight on Joe Jusko
I learned that Jusko sold one of the 1st 3 paintings he ever did when he was 18 to Heavy Metal and it was the cover to Heavy Metal #15.  I also never knew that he was a New York City police officer for 3 years in the early 80s. He would take overtime as time off and spend his couple of days off to paint a cover for Marvel.
Joe co-wrote the series “Cops: The Job” with Larry Hama (who was also NYPD). It’s based on stuff that really happened to him on the job. He got letters from police officers around the world praising its realism.


L to R: Graeme McMillan, ???, Ben Smith, ???, Mike Molcher


Panel #3: Treasury of British Comics
Fascinating to hear about how British comics were split into “Boys comics” & “Girls comics” but each had all kinds of genres, girls comics were not all romance and flowers.
Mike Molcher also pointed out when they got the bound weeklies after acquiring Fleetway, he ended up with 90 linear meters of shelving to hold all the comics many of which have not been seen since the week they were published.

Based on recommendations at this panel I later got Face Ache and Summer Magic at the 2000ad booth!


L to R: Jose Villarrubia, Jeff Lemire, Will Dennis

Panel #4: Spotlight on Jeff Lemire
One of my favorite current creators, I’ll get anything he does that’s creator owned. From writer/artist on very unique creator owned projects to a prolific writer teaming with others to produce popular corporate superhero comics to a writer teaming with other artists on creator own projects while working for so many different publishers. Lemire has done so much in a career that is only about 12 years old, it keeps me guessing about what we’ll see from him next.


Scott Hampton

Panel #5: Drawing with Scott Hampton
Last year there were only about 12 people in the room and Scott passed pages of his art around to those of us in the audience.
This year, there was a Jim Lee panel in the room after his, so room was packed with panel campers just there to get a seat for Jim Lee panel.

He did put a bunch of fully painted pages on the stage for an upcoming Neil Gaiman story adaptation “October in the Chair” (a story I love, BTW) so I was able to walk up and get a close look at those (see above).

For his drawing demo, loaded with tips for aspiring artists, he did The Joker.


L to R: Jessica Tseang, Aminder Dhaliwal, Emil Ferris, Jen Wang, Tillie Walden, Thi Bui, Larry Marder

Panel #6: OGNs: From Concept to Creation
Aminder Dhaliwal (Woman World), Emil Ferris (My Favorite Thing is Monsters), Jen Wang (The Prince and the Dressmaker), Tillie Walden (Spinning), Thi Bui (The Best We Can Do), Larry Marder (Beanworld)
Fascinating to hear these creators talk. I’ve read the work Emil Ferris & Larry Marder. I have Thi Bui’s book but have not read it yet. Since the convention I have also picked up  Tillie Walden’s “Spinning”.
Ferris had a great story on how she kept going on producing her massive time, “The Derrick Factor”, Derrick being a guy who works at her local market and who she told about the graphic novel she was working on. Every few weeks he would ask her how she was doing on it and she never wanted to tell the guy she had given up, so it kept her plugging away!

That ended my first day of the convention….6 hours in panels with a couple of forays down onto the show floor to meet some creators and grab autographs or just say “Hi” and catch up. At the end of the day I bumped into a friend and we jumped on the trolley and headed up to Old Town for some great Mexican food!

In the next installment of the Blog we’ll go over my Friday at the con.

Bob Bretall: By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

Posted in 2000 AD, BOOM!, Comic Con International, Comic Cons, Dark Horse, Fantagraphics, IDW, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SDCC 2018: Conspicuous Consumerism Edition

SDCC line

The line before Preview Night

For a lot of people, Comic Con International: San Diego (know by many as San Diego Comic-Con, or simply SDCC) is all about getting stuff.  Free stuff. Exclusive stuff. Or just cool stuff that catches your eye.  The show floor is HUGE, several city blocks long.

SDCC floor


This was my 29th year at the convention, I started going in 1990, the year before they moved to the current convention center.  I’ve watched the show grow until it has become the gigantic 20-conventions-in-one that it is today, consuming not only the convention center, but most nearby hotels and downtown San Diego as well.

I’ve said before that no two people have the exact same convention experience at SDCC, it can be customized in so many ways to focus exclusively in a number of areas (comics, films, TV, animation, video games, the creative process, cosplay, sci-fi, among others) or a mixture of any of the offerings.  For me, I like to spend most of the show up in the panel rooms watching things that are primarily comic book and creator based (more on that in future Blog entries).  I consciously avoid “walking the floor” during the convention… EXCEPT on Wedsnesay’s “Preview Night”, when I try to squeeze in the majority of the purchases that I have my eye on from doing a bit of pre-convention research on the comic con website.

This Blog is all about showing off “stuff I got” at the convention, a lot of it on Preview night.

The first thing that caught my eye was a DVD about Jack Kirby.  A fan production, filmed by a guy who was invited to visit Jack (who was famous for opening up his home and hospitality to his fans) back in 1983.  The DVD came with a set of postcards and was my 1st score of the evening.


CREDIT: Glenn B Fleming

On the way from the booth with the  Kirby videos to my next stop, a metal lunchbox sporting one of my favorite comic book covers of all time caught my eye, and only $10!  A refugee from a convention across the country, but I wasn’t fussy… and into my bag it went!

Spidey lunchbox

Next stop was the TwoMorrows booth.  They are purveyors of many fine publications about comics history, the comic books themselves, the industry, and the creators.  I had read they were having a big sale, and picked up 2 hardcover tomes about Will Eisner and Dick Ayers for $10 each, 75% off normal price

Onwards to Bill Sienkiewicz’s booth.  I love his art and try to check out his sketchbook each year.  Last year he did a New Mutants sketchbook, BUT the hardcover edition I prefer was not shipped to them in time for the show so I skipped it.  But they had them in stock for this year’s show and one became mine.

Next I stopped in to see Batton Lash, writer/artist of the wonderful Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre, a series about lawyers who specialize in supernatural law taking on clients from werewolves to vampires and many more.  Batton generally does tiny little monster paintings on canvas to sell at the con.  In past years I had gotten Frankenstein & his bride, as well as Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet.  This year I added the Creature from the Black Lagoon and his sweetheart to the collection.

Batton Lash Paintings

CREDIT: Batton Lash

As I headed southward across the show floor, my next purchase was at the Black Mask Studio booth.  They had a special limited edition issue of a comic series I enjoy, CalExit.  This is a series about California attempting to secede from the United States, only to have the full weight of the US Military descend on it, as an occupying force.  The SDCC exclusive issue has a new story about a woman running a pirate radio station in San Diego with a pretty cool article at the back talking about real pirate radio with an interview with someone who has run these kinds of broadcasts.

SDCC CalExit

CREDIT: Black Mask

It was at this point that I braved “the Vortex”… my group of friends has started using this nickname of the super-crowed part of the show floor from Dark Horse Comics over to where the Original art dealers hang out.  This is the part of the floor that has the Movie/TV studios and the big toy companies, and we generally try to avoid it when possible.  I hit the Hasbro booth just to see what the line was like…  They sold several convention exclusives online before the show, but NOT to pick up at the show.  You had to stop by their booth at the show and have them scan the bar code confirming your purchase, thus ensuring the exclusives were going to someone who was actually attending the show, but the toys themselves were shipped out after the con.  There was a HUGE line at the booth for people trying to buy things they had for sale on-site.  There was 1 person in front of me in the line to get our bar code scanned, and it took about 1 minute for me to be finished with the process.  This worked very nicely.

I got 2 items, the SDCC exclusive Aquaman figure set modeled after the cover of first series issue #35 looks pretty darn good… better than the original cover, which is not one of my favorite examples of Nick Cardy’s work.

The second item was the Thanos copter based on a scene from Spidey Super Stories #39 & packed in a Cosmic Cube!!  I would have liked the Hot Wheels of Superman lifting a car based on the cover of Action Comics #1, but that one sold out before I got to it online.

Thanos copterThanos

And then my final Preview Night purchase, a 1/2 scale Judge Dredd badge made of metal that looks pretty sweet:


At this point I met a friend and headed out early (around 8:30pm) for dinner – shrimp tacos – at Volcano Rabbit in the Gaslamp before the restaurants were flooded by people being shooed out when the show floor closed at 9pm.

Weds dinner

CREDIT: Rob Nield –> Bob using facial obfuscation technology

I had a few more purchases during the show. After the Thursday panel on British comics I stopped by the 2000AD booth and picked up some ashcan comics as well as a couple of treasuries they had talked about: A very cool comedy, one page stories about a kid with a mutable face called “Face Ache” and the complete Summer Magic, the story of a magical kid touted as “Before Harry Potter, there was Luke Kirby”

20180720_010434British Comics

On Friday, I stopped by the Fantagraphics booth to meet writer/artist (and winner, that evening, of 3 Eisner awards!) and have her sign my copy of “My Favorite Thing is Monsters”.  While at the booth I chatted with the other artist there at the same time, D.J. Bryant, who did an OGN called “Unreal City”.  Some explicit content, so not for kids, but his art really caught my eye, evocative of Daniel Clowes.  I also picked up a small hardcover by Gilbert Hernandez that I had missed called “Garden of Flesh”, another pretty explicit set of bible stories that kind of fill in (in perhaps way more detail than I really needed to know) exactly how Adam & Eve ‘begat’ their children…and some other stuff up through the story of Noah.  Something for Hernandez completists, but NOT for the easily offended.

While on the show floor, I stopped by to see a couple of other favorite artists to pick up their sketchbooks: Stan Sakai (I have all 15 of his yearly sketchbooks) and Jeremy Bastian, creator of Cursed Priate Girl who does AMAZING things with thousands of tiny lines on very small sized original art pages (the size he works at, about 8.5×11, is surprising given the amount of detail in his work).  I missed seeing him last year and was able to pick up both his 2017 and 2018 sketchbooks.


Saturday I stopped in to see Jamie Newbold, owner of Southern California Comics, and author of his comics studded autobiography loaded with insight about comics and collecting, “The Forensic Comicologist”, and I’m honored to have 3 pages of the book reproducing a Blog I wrote about my process of acquiring my copy of Amazing Fantasy #15.


Sunday I bought my only 3 back issues of the show, right at the end of the show, a bit after 4pm as booths were already starting to dismantle… I never really had time to do much shopping this year.  Gold Key back issues focusing on 2 of my favorite TV shows from the 60s.

That is ALMOST the end of what I got, but I saved the best for last.  Friday night I attended a dinner with Joe Jusko, at the Brazilian Steakhouse Fogo de Chao, hosted by IDW Publishing.  Attendees got an extremely limited (to 28 copies) of Jusko’s recent book “Marvel Masterpieces (which, by the way, is gorgeous, I highly recommend picking up the regular edition of this book if you like Jusko’s art), a signed Daredevil print, and…. a commission by Jusko!

Joe was supposed to do 11×14 ink commissions and he ended up doing them 11×17!  I asked for Doctor Strange and he even added in a very Ditko-esque background.  When I mentioned to him that it was very evocative of Ditko, he responded that it had better be since he directly referenced the background from a Ditko Dr. Strange panel!


…and here is the art!


…and the Ditko Doctor Strange panel (from Strange Tales #138)…


…and that did it for my purchases at SDCC 2018.  I’m sure they’re not the exact combo of items that anyone else would get.  But that I could get this mixture of items at the conventions is, in my opinion, a great example of how SDCC is about many, many things, and one of those things, if you open you eyes and try to look for it at all, is comic books.

Bob Bretall: By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

Posted in 2000 AD, Comic Collecting, Comic Con International, Comic Cons, Comics, Comics Art, Comics Collection, Comics Creators, Convention, DC Comics, Fantagraphics, IDW, Jack Kirby, Marvel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Comic Books vs. Hollywood / “Big Super”at #SDCC



At San Diego Comic Con, the Hall H and Marvel/DC super-hero news and events are undeniably cool for fans of pop culture.  I love this stuff and as a fan of pop culture I am very interested in it, but it is also where 98% of the massive lines are at Con.   But the news shared with the fans at the convention is splashed all over social media often before the panels are even complete!  Braving the lines and crowds would buy me an “I got to see it first” factor ranging from a few minutes to a few hours.

I’m not knocking people who love these panels, I’m a huge advocate of “do what makes you happy”.  I am talking about my rationale for NOT going to these panels, and offering up a possible alternative for people who feel frustrated by the crowds associated with these parts of the SDCC experience.

Personally, I make a choice: Do I wait in huge lines to sit in a massively crowded room and watch this material on a screen at con when it is the same thing I can watch on my computer when I get home? I would get to see actors, but chances are I would be so far away from them I’d also be watching them on the projected screen in Hall H.  The big panels are also frequently streamed on the internet, so I can watch them at my leisure after the con is over.

For “Big Super” (sorry folks, I’m trying to get a nickname for Marvel/DC Super-hero comics started that is a play on “Big Pharma”) it’s the same thing at a slightly smaller scale.  Big lines and big rooms crowded with people (though not quite as big as Hall H).  Every comic book news site has representatives in these panels and any juicy tidbits are all over their sites, on Twitter, and shared by fans in real time as the panels occur, if Marvel/DC do no leak the news to major “legit” media outlets before the panels even start.

So I spend my time at SDCC going to the smaller comic book panels that are usually focused on the creators and topics that are not of enough interest to the general public to be splashed all over social media in a big way.  I post about it, as do a few others, but generally not even remotely live because mobile phone reception SUCKS in the San Diego Convention center….   There are 20,000 people posting/tweeting about the Aquaman movie trailer (or whatever) all at the same time, so connectivity this year was pretty terrible.   An added benefit in the smaller panels is the ability to have direct interaction with the panelists that I’m a fan of, both in the form of asking questions during the panel or maybe even chatting with them in the hall after the panel or visiting them at their booth down on the show floor later on.

I’m sure people who choose the Hall H and big Marvel/DC route have fun… well MOSTLY have fun, I do hear a LOT of complaints about crowds/lines/etc. from people who attend SDCC and this is the stuff they are complaining about, because I’m not waiting in big lines for the stuff I do.   These people have a very different con experience from the one I have.  I’ve talked about this before, SDCC is so large and so diverse in what it covers there is something for everyone.  It’s like 10 or 20 conventions all in one.  People can focus on any one of those single elements (like I do with comic books) or mix and match the elements in whatever way they want.  Pretty much every other comic fan I know that attends SDCC mixes comic books in with Hollywood/sci-fi/etc.

One thing I enjoy most about my chosen “track” through SDCC is that, for the most part, crowds are what I have to navigate around on my way to the things I want to see, but I’m not living inside those crowds for very long.

I’ll be posting Blog summaries of the 21 panels I attended later on/in the coming days, as well as a “Top 10 wrap-up” for San Diego Comic Con 2018.  Watch this Blog for more!

In the meantime, I’m checking the news on all the cool stuff I didn’t attend at SDCC and will share a lot of what I think looks cool on the ComicSpectrum Facebook page where people can comment/discuss.

Bob Bretall: By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

Posted in Comic Con International, Comic Cons, Comics | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shopping for Comics in Antique Shops

We just got back from an anniversary trip up the central California coast to Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA and one of the things my wife enjoyed on the trip was visiting various Antique shops in towns such as Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, and Cambria.  While she looked at various knick-knacks, old dishes, and jewelry, I was fascinated by flipping through the inevitable boxes of comics each of these stores would have.

This may not hold true of all antique stores everywhere, but there were certain characteristics that held true in all of the dozen or so shops we visited over the past few days:

  • An almost complete lack of understanding of the value of comics – Just because a comic is a couple of decades old does NOT necessarily mean it is worth anything
  • They seemed oblivious to the fact that the condition of a comic actually affects its value – a totally beat up copy of DC’s totally forgettable MASK mini-series from 1985 (that should generously be in a 50-cent bin) would be priced the same as a Four Color from 1952 in fairly decent mid-grade condition.

I was mostly amused by the outrageous prices attributed 80s, 90s, and 2000s 50-cent bin comics as I perused the offerings squirreled away in boxes in the little stalls at these shops, but I found a couple of decent books that were worth picking up (see the pictures at the top of the page):

  • Four Color #413: Disney’s Robin Hood – the 1st Disney Movie FC comic.  This was $5 and somewhere in the VG to VG+ with really nice eye appeal.  This is about 25% of guide.
  • Four Color #433: Zane Grey’s Wildfire – This was also $5, similarly in the VG to VG+ range, which is about 50% of guide.
    These were both from the same dealer, and priced the same although one guides at twice what the other is valued at.  The same dealer had LOTS of other books that would generously be valued at 50 cents to $1 at the same $5 price.


In and amongst all the really overpriced and  forgettable comics, I did see a copy of Batman 244 in pretty low grade.  While not forgettable (It’s one of the most memorable Batman covers, IMO), I thought it was pretty overpriced at $40 for so low a condition book, but going back to the observations above, the sellers at antique shops don’t seem to have any idea how to correlate actual value to the prices they ask.

The lesson I learned: Don’t expect to find any $1 copies of key books featuring super-heroes that have been in the movies, but there are a few hidden gems (well semi-precious stones, if you’re into the weird/obscure) and  LOTS of laughs to be had while digging through everything being offered. 

As always: Your Mileage May Vary…

Bob Bretall: By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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

ComicSpectrum 2017 – Favorites of the Year

As we have done for the past few years, I gathered choices from the ComicSpectrum crew who had time during the busy holiday season to reflect on their various favorites in comics from the past year.   You’ll be able to see from the variety of choices why we feel so strongly about calling them favorites instead of “Best”.  They really are a reflection of personal preference and so many creators and projects have merit that one person’s favorite might be something someone else really didn’t care for, which make it no less enjoyable for the person loving it.

As with movies, TV, books, etc… Support the things you love and skip the things that don’t ring your bell.  Spending time dwelling on stuff you don’t like is time taken away from enjoying the things you do like.

Favorite Ongoing Series

Bob’s Choice: Giant Days (BOOM!) – John Allison does a wonderful job of character building in this comedic look into the lives of a group of college students in the UK.  I look forward to the book every months and it’s always the 1st book I read from whatever shipment it arrives in.  The characters have been evolving and I really feel like I know them.  Allison also has me invested in caring what happens to them as they navigate their lives which primarily revolves on their time outside of school (there is rarely any classroom drama, it is mostly social/love life and it draws me right in).
Shawn’s Choice: Superman (DC) – It was tougher this year, but for the second year in a row I’m going to pick Superman.  Maybe it’s the fact that I’m still so relieved to see “my Superman” back, but Peter Tomasi continues to surprise me with this run on Superman and his family.  Not every issue was perfect, but it feels like Superman.  Batman was close, but for me, I still looked forward to Superman each and every month!
Adam’s Choice: The Mighty Thor (Marvel) – The Mighty Thor has been on the playing field since 2015, and though it’s end doesn’t completely seem to be here there is much to be determined for the future of the series. With one writer and several artists that have had a hand in this comic, it has been one of the most captivating I have read and I’ve been with it since its beginning. I can’t remember the last time I had intentionally bought a Thor comic before this series.

Favorite Limited Series

Bob’s Choice: 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank (Black Mask) – Writer Matthew Rosenberg (who I also loved on the 5-issue Kingpin series at Marvel this year) really nailed the landing on this 5 issue series about 4 kids (Paige, Berger, Pat, and Walter) who come up with a scheme to get money to pay off some unsavory characters who are menacing Paige’s Dad.  The art by Tyler Boss adds a great element to the story keeping up a crisp pace and really nailing nuances of mood with his facial expressions.  It’s the kind of quirky story that jumped off the page and gripped me visually as well as with the characters themselves.  I could easily see this being made into a really fun movie.
Shawn’s Choice: Dark Nights: Metal (DC) – There were a lot of books that came out under this limited series.  Not only did we get four great issues of the main series, but we also got some fantastic one-shots including the Man Who Laughs and Dawnbreaker which I loved.  Metal encompasses all the complexities and creativity of the multiverse and I can’t wait to see where this book is headed!
Adam’s Choice: Generations (Marvel) – Marvel’s Generations included 10 issues that were all one shot comics. It took heroes of a specific name/legacy and shot them back in time to have an interaction with the hero of the same name in the past. Though not every one of the comics came across as an amazing success for me, most of them gave a form of closure for the heroes that got sent back and I enjoyed many of them quite a lot.

Favorite Reprint Project

Bob’s Choice: Akira 35th Anniversary Boxed Set (Kodansha) – I seem to be the only one on the team who had a favorite in this category.  I’ve watched the Akira animated movie a number of times, plus I read most of the issues of the series printed by Marvel/Epic back in the 1980s (though I missed some issues at the beginning and the end of that run when they came out, which I mostly filled in later as back issues.  But here they reprinted the entire run in a beautiful 6 volume hardcover set with all 2500+ pages as well as a 7th volume “Akira Club” focusing on the fan phenomenon surrounding the series.  In a year of outstanding archival reprint projects (including a number of truly awesome Artist’s Editions from IDW) this project stood out for me as my favorite of the year.

Favorite Writer

Bob’s Choice: Robert Kirkman – He has kept me captivated on The Walking Dead and his super-hero epic Invincible (which is about to come to a conclusion) for about 14 years.  Every time I get a shipment with one of these 2 books it migrates immediately to the top of the stack to be read as soon as possible. Kirkman builds characters that I’m interested in and tells stories that read as satisfying chunks in each individual issue that also come together and pay off as longer story arcs.
Shawn’s Choice: Jason Aaron – Thor almost made it as my Favorite Ongoing and that’s due in large part to Jason Aaron.  Not only does he continue his brilliant run on Thor, but he’s also written some great Star Wars stories, as well as some series at Image that I’m afraid I’m a bit behind on.  Nevertheless, if he was just on Thor he’d still be right at the top with Tom King a close second.
Adam’s Choice: Marguerite Bennett – She has provided some of the best comics of this year for me. Animosity is the top of my list. Her dialogue and story has never left me questioning anything, and her ability in expression of detail is always top-notch.

Favorite Artist

Bob’s Choice: Dustin Nguyen – His watercolor art on Descender, a tale of robots in space written by Jeff Lemire, blows me away each and every month.   I love seeing the texture of the watercolor paper he does his work on coming through on the printed page. The delicate and moody work he creates is something I pore over in every issue.
Shawn’s Choice: Jerome Opeña – This is maybe the hardest category for me to choose as I loved Dauterman on Thor, Mitch Gerard on Mr. Miracle, Christian Ward on Black Bolt, but I eagerly await seeing the art of Jerome Opeña more than everyone else.  He’s doing something special on Seven to Eternity and each and every issue is a masterpiece.  This series always gets a second pass from me after reading just so I can admire the art one more time.
Adam’s Choice: Jerome Opeña – Opeña has provided some of the best work I have seen this year and previous years. His work on “Seven to Eternity” alone has left me craving more of his art, but as I tried to find even more comics to read with his art, I realized that I already had most of the comics he has illustrated to date.

Favorite Penciler+Inker


Bob’s Choice: Stuart Immonen (pencils) + Wade Von Grawbadger (inks) – I’ve been loving what these 2 have been doing together on The Amazing Spider-Man for the Secret Empire and Fall of Parker story arcs, and before that on their creator-owned series Empress at Image.  They seem to have a very strong working relationship and their work together really leads my eye across each page, driving the visual storytelling.  Their facial expressions display a great range of emotion, as does body language, which flows effortless from everyday movement of supporting characters to the dynamics of Spider-Man web-swinging across the city or jumping around during a fight.


Shawn’s Choice: Greg Capullo (pencils) + Jonathan Glapion (inks) – Although people tend to give the pencil artist all the credit, Jonathan Glapion needs equal recognition for his inks on a book that is packed with detail!  There’s so much to see in the first four issues of Metal and Glapion takes Capullo’s pencils and gives them a greater depth and clarity.  This is my favorite “limited” series of 2017 and Glapion’s rendering on top of Capullo’s pencils plays a major role in its creation.

Favorite Color Artist

Bob’s Choice: June Chung – I’ve been really enjoying Batman since I jumped back on board, in particular the “War of Jokes and Riddles” storyline with art by Mikel Janin enhanced by the color artistry of June Chung, her colors really made the story ‘pop’ for me.
Shawn’s Choice: Matt Hollingsworth – I have to give it to Hollingsworth on this one as I feel that Seven to Eternity is the prettiest book out right now and his colors truly make that book stand out.  Hollingsworth has also worked on the arguably underrated Jessica Jones, as well as Infamous Iron Man which I also enjoyed quite a bit!
Adam’s Choice: Andres Mossa – One colorist pops in to mind for 2017, Andres Mossa had such a great run this year and should be recognized for it. Though I didn’t think the Spirit of Vengeance titles were the best comics in my lot, the colors by Mossa in those comics were phenomenal. The color transition from one art style to another was well laid out, and kept my interest.

Favorite Thing added to my collection

Bob’s Choice:
My thing is actually “things” plural.  In 2017 I discovered the PS Artbooks series of 1940s/1950s reprints on a deeply discounted sale at Bud Plant’s online shop.  Using Bud’s Art Books and a couple of eBay sellers I was able to amass the entire run of Planet Comics, as well as classic series like Phantom Lady, Rulah, Sheena, The Heap, and many more.  I’m still missing some volumes and continue to keep an eye out for previously released out of print volumes.  I’m not a big fan of pre-1960s super-hero comics, but I find myself really enjoying the crazy mystery/horror/sci-fi comics re-presented in these snazzy slipcased volumes.  They’re also available in regular (non slipcased) hardcovers as well as a softcover format for folks on a budget.  They’re well worth it for fans of the genres who are a bit open-minded on enjoying the older storytelling styles for what they are.
Shawn’s Choice:
I added quite a few keys to my collection this year including Avengers #4, Amazing Spider-Man #14, Fantastic Four #2 and 12 and more, but the one that stands out is my copy of Batman #47.  It was a while before Batman’s detailed origin came out and this issue has it.  I love the cover and it’s a sharp looking copy except for the tear on the right hand side.  It’s also sparked my interest in finding more Golden Age Batman and Superman comics, which until now I’ve focused mostly on Silver and Bronze.  I’m now on the hunt for a Superman #53 to place side by side 🙂
Adam’s Choice:
As I go through my shelf of comics and collectibles my eyes keep bringing me to my Marvel Select Planet Hulk figure. Though I’m more of a statue kinda collector, the detail, size and ability to pose the Hulk figure in different intense poses leaves it at the top of my mind. I don’t take figures out of their packaging, but when I acquire a figure I find very interesting and well done I purchase a second figure to take out and pose on my shelf. Alas, I was never able to purchase a second figure before it ended up increasing in price online, and was long sold out at my local Disney Store.


And that’s it…  Thanks for following ComicSpectrum in 2017.  We all look forward to collecting, reading, and reviewing even more comics and collectibles in 2018!

2017 Favorites chosen by: Bob Bretall / Shawn Hoklas /Adam Brunell / / By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

Posted in BOOM!, Collecting, Comic Collecting, Comics, Comics Collection, DC Comics, Image, Marvel | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Holy Cow! Jim Steranko’s 1981 Adaption of the Movie ‘Outland’!


CREDIT: Jim Steranko & Heavy Metal Magazine

I was at my Local Comic Shop this past weekend for ‘Batman Day’ and they were having a 50-cent comics sale.  One of the things that caught my eye was a box full of Heavy Metal magazine from the 1980s and 1990s.  Heck, for 50 cents a pop I was game.  I bought 35 issues.  These are super cool and are loaded with work by creators like Richard Corben, Howard Chaykin, Enki Bilal, John Workman, and many more.

I don’t have many issues of Heavy Metal and I’m not really sure why.  I was buying the hell out of Indie comics in the 1980s, and also anything I could find from these creators whenever I saw them, so it must have been that the comic shops and newsstands that I was frequenting just didn’t carry it.


I also loved Sci-Fi & James Bond movies, so I went to and loved the movie Outland in 1981, where Sean Connery portrayed the Marshal on Jupiter’s Moon Io… a movie commonly referred to at the time as “High Noon in Space”.

I never knew there was a comic book adaption of the movie, let alone one done by Jim Steranko!  But what was staring me in the face when I cracked open my 50 cent copy of Heavy Metal from July 1981?  Among other great stories, the 1st part of Steranko’s Outland adaption.  Mind Blown!

A bit of internet searching and I discovered the story was serialized in Heavy Metal magazine in English, but never collected in English, though there was a collection of the 48 page story published in both France (in French) & Spain (in Spanish).  The ‘Bronze Age of Blogs‘ covered it with images of the 1st 24 pages back in 2015, and Steranko has a few pages of it up on his own website as well.

The issues of Heavy Metal with the adaption are as follows:

  • #51 (June, 1981) – Introduction; about the story
  • #52 (July, 1981)
  • #53 (August, 1981)
  • #54 (September, 1981)
  • #55 (October, 1981)
  • #58 (January, 1982)

There’s a lot of other cool stuff in these issues, but the real eye-opener to me was Steranko’s Outland, enough so that I was compelled to come and write this blog entry to share my “discovery” 36 years after the fact.

Bob Bretall: By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

Posted in Comics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A Friend Gave Me a Stack of Indie Comics

A lot of people don’t like having tons of comics around and often downsize their collections.  I’m not one of those people (I still have pretty much every comic I’ve ever bought) but I know people who regularly downsize their collections, culling them of books that are not their top favorites, or things that they’ve read and have decided they’re never going to read again, so why keep them around?  Well, I’m always happy to take those comics off people’s hands (as long as they’re ones I don’t have already).

    Sometimes I let piles of comics given to me languor for months before I look at them.  This time I dove right into it the pile handed to me at Long Beach Comic Con by my friend Andrew yesterday….  I have read them and here are my rambling thoughts on the “Pile O Indies”, from Worst to First:

“These came out from actual publishers?”

Vampblade #10 & 11 (Action Lab): I’m sorry to offend the people who love these, but I thought they were pure drek.  Crudely executed art, bad dialogue, and a story that seems to exist to fill out pages so they can sell covers with big boobs on them (and half the variant covers are risque ‘naked’ covers *sigh*).   My assessment is very harsh, but it was my immediate reaction to reading these.
John Carter: The End #1 (Dynamite): This is the kind of book that gives Dynamite a bad name.  Dynamite does some really good stuff (I’m really enjoying their current James Bond stuff, for instance), but if this was the 1st Dynamite book someone picked up I can see them framing an opinion that the company is real “amateur hour”.  The art in here was exceptionally unskilled.  I’ve read John Carter books from Dynamite before and none slid to this level.


Brigands #1 (Action Lab): The art is more enthusiastic than skilled and the story kind of dragged for me, nothing that would get me to come back for more.
The Howling: Revenge of the Werewolf Queen #1 (Space Goat): I’ve seen better art, but compared to Vampblade & John Carter: The End, this was masterful.  I’ve not checked out anything from Space Goat yet and this didn’t do anything to make me want to rush out and get more, but I’d certainly try books from them if the concepts grabbed me.
Softball #1 (Keenspot): Really mediocre art and seemingly targeted at people who have watched a YouTube series of the same name.  This one had nothing for me.

“More enthusiam than talent”

Shy #1 (Vanth Creative): The art was very weak and the dialogue failed to “ring true” in many instances.  That said, this was done by someone who clearly has a passion for the project and a story to tell.  If this was from a “professional” publisher I’d expect more, but it’s right around where I’ve seen things in the past from someone who decides to publish their own book.  This could be improved with a better artist and an editor that can help tighten up the story flow and dialogue.

“Not my cup of tea”

Grimm Fairy Tales #1 (2nd series) (Zenescope): Not bad.  A very simple “I’ve seen this a bunch of times before” werewolf story, but not the egregious cheesecake stuff I have previously seen from Zenescope.   I might check out some of the new Zenescope stuff based on this one.
The Mighty Zodiac #1 (Oni Press): The Anthropomorphic Fantasy here didn’t really grab me, but it was competently executed.
Summoner #1 (Dreamwalker Press): This is a creator-owned & produced comic from Jenni Gregory.  I’ve read her stuff before (the Dreamwalker comics her imprint is named for) and enjoyed them, but this story just didn’t click with me.

“Hey! This was pretty good!”

The Hunters of Salamanstra #0 (Keenspot): Another anthropomorphic fantasy, but this one grabbed my imagination.  This is a setup issue and the issues from #1 onward will focus on a different main character, but I’m going to seek out and check out some more of this series.
The Rift #1 (Red 5): I skipped this one when I saw it in Previews but after reading #1, I’ll give the rest of this 4 issue series a try.  A WWII fighter pilot crashes in modern day Kansas after flying though a rift in space-time.  Instead of focusing on the pilot, the protagonist is the modern day mother/son that he crash lands near.


Dead Inside #1 (Dark Horse): I’m sorry I missed this one.  An excellent crime thriller focusing on a prison murder investigation.  This one is currently up to #7, so I need to track down the issues I’m missing ASAP.
Clock! #1-2 (Zoo Arsonist) #3 (Top Shelf): This 3 issue series is 20 years old and I had never seen it before.  As I read #1 I was thinking to myself how much the art on the main series “50s” reminded me of Love and Rockets, even though the writing style didn’t.  Then I got to the letters and there was one from Chris Staros (the main guy at Top Shelf) also talking about the Los Bros Hernandez influence as well as Daniel Clowes, at which point I was able to put my finger on the familiar aspects of the writing (like Clowes’ Lloyd Llewellen).  Staros seems to like it so much that issue #3 was published by Top Shelf and spoke of #4 being out in a “few months”….though regrettably #3 was the last issue that came out.  I’m really glad Andrew introduced me to this “lost treasure”.
While it was good to check all of these out, I’m going to follow up on the 3 of the last 4 that have more issues available, and give my recommendation for “Clock!”, it can be found from various online merchants for a couple of bucks an issue.  Well worth it, IMO.

Bob Bretall: By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

Posted in Action Lab, Dark Horse, Dreamwalker Press, Keeenspot, Oni Press, Red 5, Space Goat, Top Shelf | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment