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

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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

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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

Long Beach Comic Con 2017 – Sept 2-3, 2017

As a heads up to everyone in SoCal, the Long Beach Comic Con is this weekend, September 2 & 3 at the Long Beach Convention Center.

I’ll be there Saturday, if you’re attending drop me a note so we can say “Hi!” at some point during the day.

I’m looking forward to saying hello to artists Camilla d’Errico (1124), Dave Gibbons (411), Dean Haspiel (D16), Gene Ha (F29), and Howard Chaykin (F30).  Of course, that’s just my “short list” and there are lots of others there that could interest you.  One of my favorite convention comics dealers is also going to be there: Ed Robertson Comics (725).  Seeing Ed is worth the trip to the con for me all by himself, and there are a bunch of other comics dealers there with new and more recent back issues for people who love comics like me.

Add onto this the stuff unrelated to comics that folks keen on various aspects of pop culture can immerse themselves in and it makes this a local show that’s worth checking out….especially for folks who either could not get tickets for or were not interested in the MEGA crowded SDCC.

Here is the LBCC press release, check it out for more info and hopefully I’ll see some of you on Saturday!

Long Beach Comic Con 2017

Annual Pop Culture Celebration Returns to Southern California September 2-3

Vacation time has been spent, and our thoughts turn to children making their way back to school, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and a slight chill in the air. Before you break out your box of sweaters and slip into your usual fall rhythm, we’d just like to remind you… It’s Time for LONG BEACH COMIC CON! The Long Beach Convention Center in Southern California welcomes back the annual Long Beach Comic Con this September 2nd and 3rd for a weekend jam packed with family friendly entertainment, special guests from the comics, video game, toy and film industries, all-star cosplayers around every turn and hours of panels that will pique your geek AND nerdy interests with fun and educational content to inspire our next generation of artists and scientists alike.

Excited at the possibility of meeting your favorite comic book creators and icons of screens large and small? Long Beach Comic Con’s guest list features:

  • William Shatner – Iconic Actor from Star Trek, Twilight Zone, T.J. Hooker, Haven, Kingdom of the Spiders, Boston Legal, 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Devil’s Rain, Free Enterprise & so much more! *VIP Meet & Greet Package Available!!

  • Dave Gibbons – Legendary Artist on Watchmen, Rogue Trooper, Green Lantern, Writer of the Kingsman comic series *VIP Meet & Greet Package Available!!

  • Sherilyn Fenn – Actress on Twin Peaks, Gilmore Girls, The Wraith, Boxing Helena

  • Howard Chaykin – Referred to frequently as one of the principle architects of the modern comic book. Worked on American Flagg!, The Divided States of Hysteria

  • Amanda Deibert – Award Winning TV & comic writer on Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman 77

  • Gene Ha – Four time Will Eisner Award winner; Top 10,The Forty-Niners, Mae

  • Pia Guerra – Co-Creator of Y The Last Man / Penciler on Hellblazer, Black Canary

  • Rikki Simons – Voice Actor on Invader Zim / Co-Creator & Writer on Robotech: Clone

  • Tony Harris – Co-Creator of Starman, Ex Machina / Artist on Doctor Strange, JSA: The Unholy Three

  • Sandy King Carpenter – Co-Creator and Editor at Storm King Comics

  • Rikishi – WWE Hall of Famer & former Intercontinental Champion

  • Shawn Kittelsen – Narrative Lead and Co-Writer of fighting game INJUSTICE 2; Mortal Kombat X, Batman: Arkham City

  • Malachi Ward – Co-Creator of Ancestor from Image Comics

  • Arthur Suydam – Artist on Marvel Zombies, The Walking Dead, Deadpool, Batman
    *Arthur will be drawing FREE sketches for the first 150 kids ages 14 and under who come to his table on Sunday between 11 & 4!

And many more! Long Beach Comic Con also features Cosplay Corner with guests:

  • Nicole Marie Jean

  • Angi Viper

  • Bernie Bregman
  • Amber Brite
  • Alkali Layke and more!

Long Beach Comic Con strives to offer a unique experience for hardcore pop culture fans and casual visitors just looking for a day of stress-free entertainment. This year’s festivities include:

– SpaceExpo fills a chunk of the show floor and an entire dedicated panel track with experts in their respected scientific fields talking about our biggest and most current findings alongside displays from actual space exploration and interactive experiments your kids (or big kids) will be talking about for weeks!

– Burger Con provides a fantastic option for Saturday night fun as music tastemakers Burger Records roll out a lineup of incredible bands to keep you rocking into the night. This year’s lineup includes DJ DON BOLLES, NOBUNNY, DWARVES, THE ZEROS AND WHITE FANG. Note that this event has a nominal, separate fee for entry. Further Info HERE!

– GeekFest Film Festival will provide two solid days of indie movie bliss, often with the film makers themselves on hand to discuss the ins and outs of their creations.

– South Bay Gaming Community’s “Fighter’s Ring” where gamers can challenge their friends and rivals at: Super Smash Bros.Wii U, Street Fighter V, Injustice 2 and more. For those looking for an eSports experience, sign up for tournaments throughout the day and compete for special prizes against the best!

– The LBCC Fashion Show will feature ladies and gentlemen modeling the latest trends from top-level chic and geeky designers who are on the verge of breaking into the fashion world.

– LBCC’s Cosplay Contest will give the West Coast’s most inventive and artistic costuming wizards the chance to show off their fantastic talents and compete for prizes in categories including Best in Show, Best Fabrication, Best Construction, Best Couple/Group, Best SciFi, Best Anime, Best Villain, Best Hero and Best Kid! Register now. Spaces are going fast!

– Star Cars! Relive your favorite high speed chases and escapes from certain doom as you take pictures alongside instantly recognizable, film inspired vehicles including the Blues Bros Bluesmobile, the Back to the Future Delorean, Jurassic Park Jeeps, the Jokermobile, Bumblebee from Transformers, Speed Racer’s Mach 5, KITT from Knight Rider, the Eclipse from The Fast and the Furious and many more!

– Comic Creator Conference on September 1st is an event designed to connect professional comic creatives with other high-level industry professionals to empower them with exclusive and personal insight, as well as providing access to decision makers, peers, publishers, and other leaders within the industry. Learn how to make smart business decisions on the path to taking your creations into film, television, and interactive entertainment. Note that this event has a nominal, separate fee for entry and is open to industry professionals ONLY. Further info HERE!

Two days of geek-tastic fun wrapped around 60+ hours of panels with topics including My Little Pony, Star Wars Collecting, Horror, Star Trek, Writing for Comics & Video Games, Comic Industry Ins and Outs and so much more, a massive Artist Alley where creators in all genres gather and share their original works at the heart of a full show floor packed with vendors selling comics, toys, handmade items and art, and when you’re ready for a bite to eat, you’ll find Food Trucks just outside!

Long Beach Comic Con tickets are on sale NOW. Check in for details on limited VIP packages and photo ops with your favorite guests. Kids 10 and under get in FREE! Grab your tickets and find out about all Long Beach Comic Con has to offer at

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and you won’t miss a beat!


ABOUT MAD EVENT MANAGEMENT: MAD Event Management is an all-purpose event planning facilitator whose owners have 50 combined years of experience producing annual large-scale consumer conventions around the country, including Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Dallas. MAD’s capabilities include: Site Selection, Exhibit Staffing, Marketing Plans, Vendor Selection, Floor Plan Development, On-Site Execution, Sponsor Exhibitor Sales, Travel Management, Contract Development, Setup & Disassembly and Contract Coordination. Visit www.madeventmanagement.c om for additional information.


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

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The Truth Behind the Complaint “San Diego Comic-Con Is Not About Comics Any More”

SDCC Image Booth

The largest and longest running comic convention – Comic Con International: San Diego (still affectionately known as San Diego Comic Con or simply SDCC by fans) is in a few weeks.  That means that it’s time for people to start decrying it as “not about comics any more”.  This year this common complaint seems to have been fueled by long time retailer Mile High Comics decision to no longer attend the show, coupled with a much shared and not at all complimentary Blog by Mile High Owner Chuck Rozanski. By the way, if you want to see a great rebuttal to Rozanki’s gripe about his freight delivery at SDCC last year, check out the latest Blog by Douglas Paszkiewicz, who shares some great insight into how deliveries work at large convention centers (they are out of the hands of the convention organizers, BTW).  I’ve seen similar complaints from vendors about delivers at numerous conventions over the years, so this is really not something unique to SDCC, and has zero bearing on whether the con is about comics or not anyway.

Let’s take a moment to examine the actual truth behind the claim that SDCC is “not about comics”, and then we can talk about some things that ACTUALLY ARE TRUE, and are likely the root causes behind the shorthanded complaint that the convention is not about comics.

The real question is what does it take to be “About Comics”?   If they have to focus on comics as their main thing, then yes, this is true.  But it is also true about every other “Comic Book” convention of any size.  In order to grow past being a small show, any convention needs to include many elements of Pop Culture that ultimately take the spotlight away from comic books because frankly, the number of people who primarily care about comic books is small.  More importantly, I think, to being “About Comics” is to continue to offer lots of content that is about comics and not let the comic book content be REPLACED by Pop Culture.  A convention can continue to have a lot of comic book content even if that is not the thing that gets all the media attention.

SDCC and Comics

There is a lot of pure comic book content at San Diego Comic Con.  More than enough to put the lie to any claim it’s not about comics by the definition of “about comics” that means having lots of great comic book focused content.

Panels: There are literally hundreds of pure comic-book related panels that run Thursday through Sunday.  I have examined the schedule for this year and there are about 60 panels about comics that I’d like to attend.  Unfortunately I cannot attend all of them, some are scheduled against each other, others will likely have huge crowds that I’d rather not have to contend with.  Even taking that aside, I have a personal schedule with about 35 panels on it that could keep me in panels from 10am until about 7 or 8pm every day Thursday thru Saturday and 10am through 4pm on Sunday.  There are more comic book related panels on any single day of SDCC than I have seen at the entire show of most other comic conventions.

Publishers: Pretty much every publisher that I buy comics from is at the show.  The “Big 5” from the front half of Previews (Dark Horse, DC, IDW, Image, Marvel).  The main 2nd-tier publishers (BOOM!, Oni, Titan, Viz) as well as a bunch of the smaller guys that I get books from (2000AD, Abstract Studio, Action Lab, Aspen, Black Mask, Drawn & Quarterly, Fantagraphics, First Second, Hermes, Humanoids, Kodansha, Lion Forge, Red 5) plus lots of small/medium press comics publishers that I’m not naming here.
The ones that are missing: AfterShock, Dynamite (who has never done SDCC), and Valiant.  There are not many conventions that can boast the roster of Publishers that San Diego has.  New York Comic Con probably can, maybe a few others.

Pros: There are 100s of pros at the convention.  From people I’d consider legends to today’s hottest names in comics.  They will be speaking on many of the panels I’ll be attending, as well as signing at Publisher booths, their own booths, or in Artist’s Alley at various points during the show.
There are quite a few conventions that can boast great rosters of comic book guests, so SDCC is certainly not standing head and shoulders above the rest here, but the real point is that they have plenty of comic book pros in attendance to qualify them as being “about comics”.

Comics: Even with the loss of Mile High, there are still dozens of vendors at the show selling comics.  There are 33 vendors listed in the “Gold & Silver Pavilion” which is where the vendors of older comics congregate.  There are lots of other vendors outside this area that sell newer comics, or collected editions.  That said, there is legitimately a downturn in vendors that sell stuff that can be easily purchased online, and with the cost of a vendor space at SDCC, it really is not financially feasible to focus on “50 cent bins”, so that is something that is not represented strongly a the show any more.  What they do have a lot of is harder to find, older, more expensive books that fans can buy and actually see what they are getting (which is a main detractor on getting some of these rarer books online.
There are also quite a few Original Art vendors, for people who are into that.
The bottom line here is not to make a claim that SDCC has more or better comic book dealers than any other specific con, but that they have more than enough to satisfy the bar of being “about comics”.
Personally, I think comics dealers are not really in the “sweet spot” of any larger con any more.  There are too many other things vying for the attention of attendees.  I think that there are quite a few smaller regional shows that specialize in comics and comics dealer that do a much better job at this than the big shows.

Bottom Line: There is a great deal of comic book content at SDCC.  So much so that when I attend I do nothing but comic book related stuff.  I spend all day every day from Thursday through Sunday, and there is far more than I can experience.  The important thing to remember is that comics are there if you look for them.  Just because there is a TON of non-comics stuff does not mean that there are no comics.  These are not mutually exclusive things.

Legitimate Gripes

The Main Focus of the Con is not Comics: I will give people this one.  From the outside looking in, the media focuses mostly on TV Shows/Movies and Cosplay.  If I just watched the news, I’d think everyone was wearing a costume and every panel was about a TV Show/Movie and what everyone came to see was Hollywood actors.  This is unfortunately just the way it is.  Reading comics is a tremendously niche hobby.  Most people don’t like to read, they like their entertainment to be delivered to them in a different way.

I also think that most of the attendees of the con are there for stuff other than comic books.  I just look at the lines for the panels with the Hollywood stuff and compare that to the number of people in the “pure comics” panels I attend (usually with less than 100 people) to understand this is 100% true.  Most people I know who are comics fans split their time at con between comic book panels and ones focusing on Hollywood stuff.

What is true is that the vast majority of the public does not care about comic books themselves but absolutely LOVE the things that have spawned from comics and grown in other media.  Having a lot of focus on these things is just giving people what they want.  In fact, if you look at pretty much ANY ‘comic book’ convention out there and see what they are advertising to sell tickets and pull in attendees, it is typically not comic books.  Cons advertise the actors they have coming to boost ticket sales all the time.  It’s just business.

The difference I see at SDCC is that even though the comics are not the main draw for ticket sales, they still host a tremendous amount of comic book related panels that have fairly small attendance.  What I have seen at other cons I have attended is a drop off in the comic book panels in favor of panels that have more interest to the vast bulk of the attendees.  Less comics, more “other stuff” as time goes by.

Long Lines: Yes.  Lines are brutal.  When you have more than 125,000 people there are going to be lines.  And guess what?  The longest lines are for the most popular things!  That makes sense.  What are the most popular things?  Things related to Hollywood, actors, and big/hot super-hero projects.  If these are your main interests, I’m sorry, but it’s going to suck.  There will be lines.  You may not see everything you want to see or get to meet every person you want to meet.  I think the same thing will be true at any convention that has very popular things that lots of people are interested in.   I think this is actually the goal (or perhaps the unintended consequence) of any convention that wants to have really cool guests/events and a very healthy attendance.  Rooms are only so big, actors/creators can only meet and talk to so many people over the course of an hour or two.  This one kind of “is what it is”.

I Can’t Get Tickets!: Yes.  See “Long Lines”.  When far more people want something than the available quantity, some people will not get what they want.  The convention center is HUGE, but there is still an upper limit to the number of people that can attend.  More people want to go than there are tickets, and tickets usually sell out in an hour or 2.  The limited nature of the tickets causes a lot of “sour grapes” griping from people who couldn’t get tickets.   They cannot get a ticket so make themselves feel better by focusing on how the show “sucks anyway”, is too crowded, and is no longer about comics.

(Vendor Complaint) Sales Are Down and it is Not Worth It: This is one of the things Chuck Rozanski was complaining about.  Totally legitimate. There is a tremendous amount on online competition to ANY physical seller.  If you are not offering something unique that people cannot get online, why is it surprising that people are not bothering to buy from you?  Rozanski runs a huge online comic selling operation himself.  There is also a LOT of stuff competing for the attention of any attendee.  They can be meeting creators/actors, talking to people at the Publisher booths, attending panels where they hear from people they do not normally have access to, or go across the street from the convention center which is like a huge pop culture fair with all kinds of “experiences” and cool things to do.  Why do they want to be digging through a back issue bin getting something they could get from their desk at home any day of the year?  Add in the fact that at least 50% of the attendees of SDCC have never read a physical comic in their life and have no desire to read them.  This is not to say that there are not some people who will come to shop for comics, but it should not be surprising if you’re not swamped with customers if you are not offering some kind of unique experience or product that cannot be had online.

Artists Alley is Marginalized: This is another one I will give to critics of SDCC.  The convention organizers seem to think it’s a good idea to put Artist’s Alley way down at the south end of the Convention center about 3 city blocks away from the comics publishers and 5 city blocks away from the comics dealers.  You have to run a gauntlet of Media booths and aisles crowded with 1000s of people who want to get a look at some star of a TV show or get some free giveway from a studio that they’ll either sell on eBay or will end up at the back of a drawer in 6 months time.
There are lots of conventions that treat Artist’s Alley far better than San Diego and as a result have far better Artists Alley experiences for both the fans and the pros.  I think this is the weakest link in their comic book content portfolio.

Comic Conventions are Changing

Comic Cons are changing across the board.  There is a focus on non-comic things at any con when it grows to a certain size.  I would argue that in order to grow beyond a small size any convention must modify itself to offer lots of things that are not directly comic books.  This is because the size of the audience that is interested in reading comics is very small PLUS people who like to read comics usually ALSO like those other things.

The important thing is whether, while growing, a convention holds onto “pure comic book content” as they begin to grow and add things that are not comic books.  The thing I love about SDCC is that they have succeeded in doing this.

A Round of Applause for SDCC

Even though SDCC is huge and comics are legitimately not the main draw for attendance, they still offer a lot of solid comic book content for anyone who comes seeing it out.

And for that, SDCC deserves a round of applause from all fans of comic books.  For holding onto their roots and keeping a core of love for comics alive within the much larger non-comics beast that the convention has grown into.

Opinion by: Bob Bretall  ( By Fans who Love Comics for Fans who Love Comics

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2016 Favorites of the Year: Bob Bretall

It’s time for the last installment where the four regular ComicSpectrum contributors for 2016 have each shared their “Top 10” list for 2016.

We are not declaring our favorites to be magically the “best” things produced, but rather just  what they are, our favorite things. As I look at the Top 10 for each of the four of us (Adam Brunell, Al Sparrow, Bob Bretall, Shawn Hoklas), there are only 2 shared items on our lists: Adam and Shawn both named Marvel’s Mighty Thor series and Bob and Shawn both named DC’s Wonder Woman series relaunched as part of Rebirth. 

Looking at how very different the favorites are for four people that have been collectively reading comics for over 80 years, it  drives home just how silly it is to put any stock in a “best of” list published by anyone in absence of a clearly defined set of criteria that is used to judge something as the “best”.  All of those “best of” lists are really just people’s personal favorites that they attempt to lend greater credence to by declaring them best.

I have my Top 12 favorite ongoing series on the ComicSpectrum website, so I tried to make this list somewhat different. I widened the scope beyond just straight comic books and also made use, in many cases, of groupings of books that I have enjoyed or things that are either not strictly comics or are not ongoing series, and as such wouldn’t fit into the Top 12 on the website.

I present these in alphabetic order, not in any precedence of enjoyment.  I’ve really loved all of these things over the course of 2016, and in some cases for many years previous to that as well.

CREDIT: Marvel Comics

Amazing Spider-Man – Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy (Marvel)

I’ve been reading spider-Man since 1970, it’s what got me into comics collecting.  There have been ups and downs over the years, I even stopped buying the title at various points (during the Maximum Clonage era as well as when J. Michael Straczynski was weaving his tale of a Gwen Stacy impregnated by Norman Osborne).  I have been a fan of a lot of the interesting twists and turns Dan Slott has been introducing over the last several years because, to me, they feel like they’re built on a solid base of existing Spider-Man lore and don’t feel disrespectful to stories that have gone before, though I’m certain there are people who feel quite the opposite.  But that’s why it’s my personal favorite and not a declaration of being the best Spider-Man comics in decades, though I am enjoying Spider-Man more in the past year or two than I have at any point in the past 25 years.
I’m particularly fond of the recent Dead No More/Clone Conspiracy storyline.  Slott has woven a tale that makes a lot of sense to me as a logical progression from comics I enjoyed long, long ago, and it’s also fun seeing lots of dead characters brought back to life in a way that makes sense and is “fair play” in the context of the story.

CREDIT: Archie Comics

Archie Comics Reboot (Archie)

I read the occasional Archie comic when I was a kid (under 10 years of age) but they were never something that really appealed to me.  When Archie re-tooled itself with the horror line spearheaded by Afterlife with Archie and then added Chilling Adventures of Sabrina I was hooked.  I was reading Archie comics and loving them.  But those comics suffered only from an exceptionally infrequent publishing schedule.  When Archie gave its core universe a modern facelift with writers like Mark Waid, Chip Zdarsky, and Ryan North and artists like Fiona Staples, Veronica Fisk, Joe Eisma, Erika Henderson, and Derek Charm I had something new to love.  While Betty & Veronica (written & drawn by Adam Hughes) comes out very infrequently (though worth the wait), they have been getting out issues of Archie and Jughead on a monthly basis and I have been enjoying them immensely all year long.

CREDIT: IDW, DC, Marvel, Dark Horse

Artist’s Editions (primarily IDW Publishing and Dark Horse)

I really really love Artist’s editions.  I’m showing just 3 of the volumes that came out in 2016 that I purchased, there were several others. These large books that reproduce original comic book art at original size and in full color are something that I consider beautiful, seeing art at full size as it was originally drawn, with the color scans showing any corrections, blue-lines, margin notes, white-out, etc. is something I think is very special.  The format was pioneered by Scott Dunbier at IDW and he has deservedly won multiple Eisner awards for these books.  Other publishers have imitated the format and put out their own versions (Dark Horse, Dynamite, DC) and while they appear pricey at $100+ per volume, this is really not that bad when you take into account that in most cases, even a single page of the art reproduced would cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.


CREDIT: Fantagraphics

The Complete Peanuts (Fantagraphics)

In 2016, Fantagraphics published the final volumes of a series it has been working on since 2004, publishing 25 volumes with every Peanuts comic strip from 1950 thru Schulz’s last in 2000.  In October they released a 26th volume that collects art, storybooks, comic book stories and other things related to Peanuts that Schulz created that were not the daily comic strips themselves.  Schulz drew every single strip himself, no assistants or help of any kind over 50 years.  This is a fabulous series and a fabulous achievement reproducing one of the masterpieces of the American comic strip art form.

CREDIT: Hard Case Crime, Titan Comics

Hard Case Crime (Titan Comics)

Titan Comics gets a huge thumbs up from me for bringing the hard case crime genre to comics in 2016 in a couple of excellently executed comics (Peepland & Triggerman).  I even followed the author of Peepland (Christa Faust) back to the Hard Case Crime paperback imprint and read her 1st ‘Angel Dare’ novel, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I’m now picking up various paperbacks from this imprint to read every month or two.  I really enjoy this genre and the comics are firing on all cylinders for me.  I look forward to whatever they are going to produce next in this imprint.

CREDIT: John Allison + BOOM! Box

John Allison Comics (self-published + BOOM! Box)

I fell in love with John Allison’s portrayal of a quirky group of college kids in the UK in 2015 thanks to the series from BOOM! Box.  IN 2016 I upped the ante by buying the 1st 3 self-published issues directly from Allison’s website, in addition to getting turned on to his wonderful series Bad Machinery, a webcomic that follows a group of UK school-age kids.  Better still, Oni Press will be bringing us pocket-sized hardcopies of Bad Machinery starting in Mach 2017!  I’ll be picking up these volumes as they’re published!

CREDIT: Marvel Studios

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (Marvel Studios)

I have loved each Marvel movie that has come out so far that has been a part of their shared cinematic universe.  2016 kept up the pace with 2 movies that were off the charts enjoyable for me.  Civil War had my favorite portrayal of Spider-Man on the big screen to date and has me eagerly anticipating 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Doctor Strange did a great job of integrating magic into the cinematic universe and had a great use of 3-D.  At least for me, Marvel has the magic.  They make extremely enjoyable movies that I can watch over and over.

CREDIT: Abstract Studio

Rachel Rising (Abstract Studio)

2016 saw the conclusion to Terry Moore’s horror epic that has played out over the course of the past 5 years.  Set in his Moore-verse along with the romantic dramedy Strangers in Paradise and the sci-fi Echo, this is another eminently re-readable story and is one of the few series I double-dipped on.  I read the monthly issues, which all worked for me as periodical installments, but then re-read the entire series in Omnibus format and it worked in that format as well, allowing me to pick up on connections and cross-references that I missed along the way as I read it played out over 5 years.  Moore is a master story-teller and I highly recommend any of his work, including his current psychological dramedy “Motor Girl”.

CREDIT: Marvel Comics

Vision – limited series (Marvel)

This series played out perfectly across 2016, with issue #1 cover-dated Jan 2016 thru #12 cover-dated December 2016.  My absolute favorite piece of work from writer Tom King to date and my #1 favorite thing from Marvel in 2016.  King did a great job of adding layers and nuance to a character I’ve loved since I was a kid (my first comic with this character was Avengers #106 in 1972 and he quickly became my favorite Avenger).  But it’s been a long time since I’ve really enjoyed the character (probably since the Busiek/Perez run on Avengers that kicked off in 1998).  Thanks to Tom King and artist Gabriel Hernandez-Walta for bringing the character I loved for so many years back to a form/interpretation I love again.  This is typical of a lot of super-hero series.  New teams love to shake things up and over the years I’ve often gone through long periods where I no longer cared for a particular interpretation of a character I once loved.  Eventually yet another re-interpretation occurs that puts the character back in my sweet spot, and that’s what happened in 2016 for this beloved character.


Wonder Woman: Rebirth (DC Comics)

This is on my “Top 12” list of ongoing series and is one of the very few DC super-hero titles I am currently enjoying.  It stands head and shoulders above all the other DC books for me as my only “top of stack must read” DC comic.  I wanted to give it special attention by calling it out on this list as well as my regular Top 12.  When presented with the bi-weekly schedule, the other DC writers went on ahead and wrote their story arcs, living with the fact that artists would have to be swapped out in mid-arc since most artists cannot complete 2 entire issues of a comic per month.  Greg Rucka did something different.  He lined up 2 artists: Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott.  Then he told 2 parallel stories, one in the odd numbered issues and one in the even numbered issues.  This allowed him to tell 2 stories with a consistent artist on each.  I really appreciate this and would rather get the issues spaced out the way he has done it than to have the jarring art style change in the middle of each story arc that drove me away from many other DC Rebirth bi-weekly series.  Bravo to Rucka, Sharp, and Scott for bringing me back to Wonder Woman after a several year lapse.

There you have it.  Four ComicSpectrum contributors and 38 different things we all loved in 2016.  Not a lot of crossover, but tons of variety which I think is really an accurate reflection of the taste of comics fans.  Everyone likes different stuff and there’s a tremendous amount of thing to choose from to like.

My thanks to Shawn, Adam, and Al for helping balance out the ComicSpectrum site throughout 2016.  Shawn is our go-to “DC fan” and is getting back into Valiant Comics as well.  Add in his love for back issues, horror comics, and knowledge of CGC and he provides a great resource to round out the overall coverage we provide.  Adam is our go-to guy for X-Men, Inhumans, and a lot of generally popular mainstream Marvel books.  Al provides a wealth of knowledge on the manga, ‘bad girl’ comics, and the crowdsourcing/small/independent press front, as well as being an all-around expert on all things Supergirl.

I am thankful on a regular basis for having them all contribute to the site!  Thanks guys! Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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