Saturday, November 09, 2002  

Rapid Review - 9 Nov 2002

Justice League: The Savage Time: First off: I really like the Justice League cartoon despite it not being the real Justice League (because it doesn't have Aquaman). And I've enjoyed most of the stories so far (especially the guest appearance of should-be-leaguer Aquaman). That said, I think the only way that this one could have been better is if the League had somehow undone the D-Day disaster as shown in the cartoon. As it is, there is still an anomaly in the Justice League Universe because Germany had access to higher technology and D-Day wasn't a big success like it was in our universe.

Putting that aside, my fangirl alert kept going off as each of the WWII characters was introduced, some of whom I didn't recognize because I've never read their books. I didn't catch it if one of the tanks was the Haunted Tank, but otherwise we got a lot of DCU fun with the Blackhawks and Sgt Rock. Each introduction made me smile.

I also liked the Bruce Wayne of the Savage future, who brought in orphans for his rebels. Did you notice that Dick and Barbara were two of the rebels, in each other's arms, even? It was a good way to get Batman into the story, and a good way to keep him out of the way.

Overall, I've really enjoyed this series, and this story gets 4 starfish from me. I've still got two previous stories that I missed from earlier in the season to watch, but overall the Justice League cartoon rates a solid 4 starfish from me.

What did you think?

posted by Tegan | 9:50 PM

Random Thoughts

No one has responded to my brain-teaser about the King with three daughters, but I'll still post the answer... in a couple of days. The question is in November 7th's Random Thoughts.

Hubby-Eric and I have turned in our order form for November 2002. Aquaman and the Aquaman Archives are both on it, which made me unusually happy. Add in the Super Friends Aquaman/Black Manta action figure set (which retails at $49.99!) and the checkbook is now officially screaming in agony.

Other stuff was as expected: all three Elseworlds (I'm a sucker for them), Gotham Adventures, Birds of Prey, Supergirl, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkman, JLA, JLA/Spectre, JSA, Ten-Cent Superman, Justice League Adventures, Spectre, Titans, Young Justice, Power Company, Green Lantern/Sinestro Super Friends set, Powers, Usagi Yojimbo, Girl Genius, Futurama Comics, Snapdragons, the Cardcaptor Sakura trade, Ruse, Way of the Rat, Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, and Truth...

We're also getting Crossovers #1 because we can't resist the idea of genres mixing. We hope it's as good or better than the previews make it out to be. And Interman is also on the list thanks to the preview at Jeff Parker's site.

And lastly, because Hubby-Eric got more work at the comic shop for credit, we added JLA/JSA Virtue and Vice. We wanted to get it before, but couldn't justify the cost.

Speaking of costs and justifying them, I really wanted to go to the Seattle Comicard Convention tomorrow, but even the admission is a little high after paying for our comics. While the cost in money is nasty, I'm also worried about the cost in my energy levels for work. I still haven't adjusted fully to working retail after sitting at a desk all day for years, and I'd rather go to work fully rested on Monday, especially since I know next week is going to be hard, with all the stock for the holiday shopping season coming in. So I probably won't make it...

Remember that book I told you about some time ago, the one with the 8-page preview that my retailer put in my box? It's called The Witch and the Jackal, and I ran into the creators at my comic shop today. They've been doing some serious legwork, hitting every comic shop within driving distance of their home in Victoria BC, Canada, and giving out free samples as well as delivering the first issue in person. Since they were there, and I was impressed, we bought the first issue right away. I will review it within a day or two.

I'm looking forward to seeing the last of the first season of Justice League tonight. So it doesn't have Aquaman and that sucks, at least it's a decent show otherwise. And I know Aquaman will be reappearing in season two.

I read this morning, on Elayne Riggs' blog, that Hilary Bader had died of ovarian cancer. There's a lot I want to say about this, but I can't at the moment. I'm pretty upset. She was a very cool person, and I'm glad I met her.

posted by Tegan | 5:50 PM

Retailers, listen up!

If you are a comic book retailer, go right now to Peter David's Website and participate in The Poll of the Century.

Like Peter, I'm very interested in seeing the results of this poll.

posted by Tegan | 9:01 AM

Friday, November 08, 2002  

Opinion Page Reprint

To make my life easier, I'm reprinting (and updating) some of my comic book industry essays from my now-defunct Opinion Page (which, seriously, was an early attempt at a blog).

When I first wrote this entry, I was pretty naive about the way comics work behind the scenes. I'm still quite naive, but at least now I know that there is a lot I don't know. And I believe I got some facts very wrong in the following article, including how well Archie sells. I also think it wouldn't be nearly as easy as I make it out to be for Marvel or DC to break into the grocery "digest" scene, nor as cheap to reprint older stories. I do, however, still think it's a good idea.


a stupid little rant by Laura Gjovaag

Have you heard of Archie Comics? Chances are good that you don't even see them in your regular comic book store. But almost every title from Archie consistently sells as many or more copies than almost any single title DC or Marvel puts out.


Because Archie doesn't concentrate solely on the Direct Market.

Archie sells comics to children. Because they know that children want and will buy their books, they focus on the places children are likely to be: in the supermarket, with their moms. Archie doesn't hide the majority of their books away in dark little comic shops that no mother in her right mind would set foot in. They display their wares proudly, in places where the money is spent freely and a comic book to appease a child is only one tiny purchase.

The direct market is killing the comic book industry. That isn't news. Every person who sells comics for a living or buys comics as a primary hobby understands that the industry is slowly dying, failing to attract new readers like it used to. A lot of adults out there aren't really aware that comic books are still made. They remember the Golden and Silver ages, when it wasn't a bad thing for kids to read comics, but there are new toys out there, video games and cheap movies... and comic books seem like a thing of the past.

So why don't Marvel and DC do something about it? Why don't they start selling comics in the grocery stores?

Well, they do. They just don't do it right. They put a small portion of their books out in a handful of stores. They don't market to the kids... they don't market to the moms who will buy comics. As a result, those sales are pretty weak, especially if you compare them to Archie's success.

What is the Direct Market?

Chances are you buy your comics in one of two ways. The most likely way is that you have a favorite comic book shop, which you visit on a regular basis to pick up your favorite books. If you are a sophisticated comic shopper, you probably have a pull list at the shop, and you might even order your books two months ahead of time through Previews magazine. The other likely way is that you get your comics through the mail, via a subscription, either direct from the publisher or through a reseller.

If you are buying your comics that way, you are buying through the Direct Market.

Basically, what happened was this... Back in the Golden and Silver ages of comics, years ago, comic books were mainly sold via "news stand". Various stores (grocery stores, five and dimes, drug stores) got shipments of comics which they put out on wire racks and sold as one tiny part of their massive inventory. Books that didn't sell were shipped back to the publishers for a refund. From the publisher's perspective, that was the big problem with news stand distribution. The refund they had to give for unsold books. From a fan's perspective, the problem was unreliability. They might not always get the books they wanted.

So when some of the early fans got old enough to run businesses, they started shops that sold mostly comic books. They didn't return unsold books because back issues could be stored more easily and sold later. This made it easier for the publishers to make a profit, and easier for fans to find the books. All of which probably saved comics in the short run: the birth of the direct market!

The problem with the direct market, though, is the failure to keep comics in the mainstream eyes. As the superhero comics became less and less visible in the stores, children stopped reading them. They became books written for fans only, that were sold through outlets that were run by fans (many of whom weren't businessmen), to fans and not kids. And as fans grew up and moved on, or got tired of the same plotlines used over and over, the audience started to shrink. And because the comic books no longer sold on the news stands, the audience didn't renew with new children.

How to Save the Industry...

Now that all that has been said, there is a way to save the industry. Unfortunately for the fans, it would take a considerable bit of risk on the part of Marvel and DC, and possibly some losses for a time until they could build up the audience again. And they won't do that.

Marvel and DC both have tons of stories, already written and drawn, that will appeal to a young audience. What they need to do is put together reprint digests that will fit on grocery store checkout displays. Fans don't like the smaller digest size, it reduces the art and often looks shabbier. But children who are just learning to read don't mind so much. They just want something to read and look at. So if the publishers put out cheap reprint books in digest size and market them for children, with covers that appeal to parents, the industry could start to bring in a new generation.

There would be steps beyond that, like getting comic book stores to improve their appearance and reputation. But the first step is to bring in new readers, and to do it NOW. Because at the rate the audience is shrinking, we don't have time to mess around.

This column is copyright 1999 by Laura Gjovaag. February 1999

posted by Tegan | 9:31 PM


I never intended to link Neil Gaiman to my blog. I don't know the guy, he isn't linked to me, and I'm not really a big fan of his work (although I have liked what I've read, I just don't seek it out). I've been clicking through PAD's and Elayne's blogs and reading his stuff once every few days. But he finally got me. I just read about the adventures of washing Furball the cat (from Wednesday Nov 6th 2002), and after picking myself up off the floor where I fell down laughing, I decided that Neil is worthy of reading every day, and therefore gets a link. Those of you who already knew that can stop laughing at me, sometimes a girl has to learn these things for herself.

posted by Tegan | 6:08 AM

Thursday, November 07, 2002  

Random Thoughts

It started raining here again this week. It was like the whole city let out a giant sigh of relief. Sure, it's wet, but the air is clearer and the plants no longer look wilted. We'd gone without long enough that newcomers and visitors were starting to say, "The weather isn't that bad in Seattle!" which is the worst thing that can happen. We don't want more people moving here only to complain that they actually saw that "sun" thingy where they used to live. And to be honest, I was really uncomfortable seeing the sky that unnatural shade of blue instead of its normal gray/white.

The newest link on my site is to David Allen Jones' Blog AKA "The Johnny Bacardi Show". Thanks to the fantastic linkback feature that Elayne Riggs introduced me to, I was able to discover he linked to my blog, and actually implied that I'm fun and interesting, to boot! That brings my readership up to two and a half (my hubby, David, and my retailer who sometimes visits).

There's a great, short, interview with Ramona Fradon by Heidi MacDonald at Comicon's Pulse. I'm a BIG fan of Ramona. My favorite piece in my Aquaman collection is an original Ramona Fradon watercolor my husband surprised me with for Christmas 1997. Having Ramona's work be the majority of the new Aquaman Archive coming out made my month, and it's good to see her getting recognition on a major comic news site.

Click for Interview

I'm thinking I ought to do some reviews of older books. The sugar-coated bee story (see Monday, Nov 4th's first blog) made me pull out Clan Apis and reread. Perhaps I should at least make an occassional reference to other great series I've gotten over the years. Heck, since I'm already talking about Jay Hosler, I'll mention that Sandwalk Adventures, his latest effort, has been very good so far. And educational too!

The news that Stan Lee is suing Marvel took me by surprise. While Stan seems to have the biggest ego in all of comics, he never seemed like a guy to go against company lines. Then again, I don't know the details, so maybe I'd better just shut up and watch how it goes.

And for my final thought this evening (unless I post another one later on tonight): A powerful and rich king had three magnificent and valuable rings that he kept in a gorgeous and ornate box. As he grew older, he decided one day to give each of his three daughters one of the rings. After the giving was done, a single ring still remained in the box. Can you tell me how?

posted by Tegan | 7:26 PM

Rapid Reviews - 6 Nov 2002 - Part III

Amazing Spider-Man #46: It just keeps going from bad to worse for Peter in this book, doesn't it? New villain, new trouble... definitely a fun read. 3 1/2 starfish.

Justice League Adventures #13: Fairly predictable from start to finish, but I liked it. Nice art, fun new character, lots of good humor. 3 starfish.

Young Justice #51: After the shocker from last issue, I was hoping for a little ... explanation. I got it. In spades. And more. Great cliffhanger. The fight between the teens and Lady Zand was wonderful. Best book of the week. 4 starfish.

Way of the Rat #7: Let me just say, "I don't get it" now and get it over with. On the first read, this didn't make a whole lotta sense. I suppose I might get more out of it in my next read or two, but at the moment, I'm just not sure what happened except a transition of status for the lead character. I'm sure I was supposed to catch some reference or something, but I didn't. 2 starfish.

Next Week: It's a sort of Green Lantern week, with Green Lantern #156, GL Evil's Might #3, Spectre #23, and JSA #42. I said "sort of"...

posted by Tegan | 7:05 PM

Rapid Reviews - 6 Nov 2002 - Part II

Birds of Prey: Sins of the Mother: The episode was good, up to a point. The ending left a sour taste in my mouth, even though I kept repeating "No body, no death!" to myself and hubby. I suppose there was no other way out of the situation they had set up, but it was annoying. 3 starfish.

Powers #25: I thought there was something missing from last issue. That extra page makes a lot of sense. Anyway, this issue is interesting, setting up a whole new case. Letter column is gross as usual. Heck, the whole book is gross, as usual, but I keep buying it and reading it anyway. 3 starfish.

Green Arrow #18: One long fight. And an oddly funny one, too. And all for that one little item. Very interesting. 2 1/2 starfish.

Still got four books to go... hang in there...

posted by Tegan | 7:33 AM

Comment (1)

Regarding Birds of Prey: I don't care how they do it, I don't care how convoluted the explanation, BRING BACK BLACK CANARY!! Lori Loughlin did a terrific job with the role, I thought, and there wasn't enough of the Canary Cry (although what they did do was pretty effective).

Hubby | Homepage | 11.08.02 - 8:16 am

Wednesday, November 06, 2002  

Rapid Reviews - 6 Nov 2002 - Part I

Things are going a lot more slowly this week than last, only two books and thoughts on Smallville...

Smallville: Lineage: This was a story I really wanted to see, because I wanted to know how Clark's adoption was arranged ever since Chloe first looked it up. I was not disappointed. This one added new layers to the whole Smallville tale, including more about what Lionel Luthor knows about Clark's secret. This episode counts as a key issue. 4 starfish.

Hawkman #9: Very odd story, but the book has been leading up to this revelation for a time, so I guess it isn't so odd after all. Nice cliffhanger. All-in-all makes me want to keep reading, but doesn't thrill me. 3 starfish.

Superman #188: I got this book only so I could rip out the Aquaman preview in the middle... it was the cheapest book that looked like a stand-alone story. This was a good story, very amusing at first, and then very touching at the end. It also qualifies as stand-alone, so I guess I picked well. This one goes into next year's Halloween box. 3 starfish.

Aquaman Preview: I like the new logo, but having puns like "The New Wave!" on the cover is just irritating.

Only five story pages, but I already like the nobility and strength Aquaman is showing. I'm not keen on the explanation for how the Atlanteans turn the sea life against Aquaman, nor do I think that Vulko would be talking about "murdering our myth" after 15 years of slavery under Gamamnae... but then, I haven't read the last chapter of JLA: Obsidian Age yet so I'm not sure what is happening there.

The artwork is good, better than I was expecting, and I like the coloring so far, too. Never underestimate the importance of good coloring in a book based underwater!

Overall, a promising start. I think the preview did it's job of whetting our appetites (although I'm not in the target audience for the preview), now it's just a long wait until December 11th (35 more days!). Preview: 3 1/2 starfish.

posted by Tegan | 4:10 PM

New Comics Day

Before I take off for work, a couple of thoughts...

I told my boss about the sugar-coated bees, and she was delighted with the story. It's one of those cases of creative problem solving that makes you smile. So I've been telling the story to everyone at work, and it's been cheering people up. It's a good tale.

New comics come today, so there will be reviews tonight or tomorrow... Saturday at the latest... I learned the hard way that trying to get reviews up right away takes away a lot of my enjoyment of a book, so I won't be rushing to post a review. I will, however, only read a book once before reviewing it (that's why they are "rapid" reviews) and I always reserve the right to change my mind on further readings.

I'm off to work... more later...

posted by Tegan | 9:29 AM

The Morning After

Well, the people have spoken. At least some of them. I don't yet know what the voter turnout was for this election, but I'm sure we'll once again fall far short of other nations.

In any case, it seems to be bad news in general. I'm speaking of one party gaining control of the House, Senate, and the Presidency. This would be bad no matter what the political party. I'm not too worried, yet. But it does bode ill for the future, in my opinion.

Locally, transportation issues were again drowned out by voters wanting to keep their money in their pockets. Not a surprise in this economy. In fact, just about nothing in this election has been a surprise.

Of course, the local races haven't been completely decided, yet, because all the absentee ballots haven't been counted. But the trends are usually correct... it's like the votes already counted are a representative sample. It's pretty rare for absentee ballots to change anything but a very close race.

In Washington, voters can choose to always vote absentee, so many races are still officially not counted.

Another thing I like about Washington is that we aren't forced to pick a party when we register to vote. It seems genuinely un-American to me to have to join a political party just to be able to vote at all. If I had to pick a political party, I don't know what I'd choose... I generally vote Democrat, but I also agree with Republicans on a number of issues and have been known to vote Republican. And when candidates from both parties reek of political stupidity, I've even been known to pick a third party. I don't consider myself Democrat, nor Republican, nor any other party. So if I had to declare myself a member of one party, I don't think I'd be comfortable doing it.

Anyway, if you didn't vote I hope you are happy with the way things are, because you didn't bother to give your say in it so you can't complain. And if you did vote, Huzzah for you! ... even if your candidate didn't win. At least you let your opinion be counted.

posted by Tegan | 8:03 AM

Tuesday, November 05, 2002  

Go Vote

If you haven't yet, do it now. This is the day that you have a say. If you don't vote, people who do vote (including me) get to decide your future.

posted by Tegan | 5:56 AM

Monday, November 04, 2002  


Peter David reports that the CBLDF is going to fight for Jesus Castillo. If you believe that comics are for everyone, not just kids, visit The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Website and help fight the battle against censorship.

If you haven't read about this story yet, Jesus Castillo was the clerk at a comic shop that was targeted in a very strange sting operation. He was convicted of obscenity charges for selling an adult comic book to an undercover police officer, an ADULT, even through the book did not meet the test for obscenity. He was convicted because the jury agreed with the prosecution that comic books are for kids!

In other words, all comic books should be aimed ONLY at children. It's apparently not legal to have any adult material in comic book form, even if you are only selling it to adults. Forget mature readers books like Powers, those are obscene! Not because they are really obscene, of course... but because they aren't aimed at kids.

If you run a shop, or even work at a shop like poor Jesus did, be really careful! You shouldn't be selling comics to adults!! Comics are only for children, according to the state of Texas.

I personally think that the jury is obscene, as are the higher judges who didn't overturn the ruling on appeal. The store in question was very careful with its adult material, making sure that no kid could get at it. They never sold adult materials to children. And yet they were still successfully taken down, even though they were being responsible citizens.

And that, my friends, is pretty sick.

posted by Tegan | 12:55 PM

Sugar-Coated Bees

Can't help it. The image of bees coated in powered sugar is just making me laugh... and it also made me think of Clan Apis, one of the best educational comic books I've ever read. If you haven't gotten it yet, do yourself a favor and at least check out the website. In particular, I'm very fond of Jay Hosler's Killer Bee true story. Go on... read it... NOW!

posted by Tegan | 10:31 AM

Lotsa Thoughts

First off: Don't Forget To Vote. Hubby and I voted absentee last night (it's a good way to avoid having to find and go to the polls on a specific day). I suspect that most people reading this are likely to vote anyway, but if you aren't, think about it. If you don't vote, you are leaving your fate in other people's hands... including MINE.


An item in the Seattle Times this morning caught my attention. It says that an 18-year-old girl was kidnapped a month ago in Swaziland, and has now been made the King's 10th wife. To be honest, I thought stuff like this only happened in stories. I really wonder what the girl, Zena Mahlangu, thinks of the whole thing. Is it a dream come true, or the start of a long nightmare? Link to article.

It's bad enough that Toyota put out a truck called the "Tacoma" after a city in our state, apparently Buick is about to put out a "Rainier" SUV. That's pronounced "ray-neer" by the way. The city of Tacoma is best known in these parts as a smelly place (there's a song about "The Aroma of Tacoma"). Mount Rainier is best known for sitting prettily on the horizon... wonder if that bodes evil for the SUV's reliability? Link to article.

Local Muslims were stunned to learn that the DC Sniper was a Muslim from around these parts, because they'd never heard of him. Turns out he's part of the Nation of Islam, which doesn't share the beliefs of the folk around here that are mainstream Islam. But that hasn't stopped the media from identifying him as simply "Muslim", which in turn makes the local community of Muslims look like they supported him or something. Link to article.

A girl had hit upon what she thought was a great fund-raising project in Salem Oregon. She would sell bottled water with a school logo on it at school events! Except... the school district has an exclusive deal with Pepsi. And Pepsi has made it clear that the fundraising idea is not cool with them. Go corporate America... smash youthful creativity! Makes me want to drive down to Salem and buy some bottled water from the girl. Link to article.

Also in Salem, a beekeeper has found a way to get rid of a deadly parasite that is wiping out beehives around the country. Basically, his device coats the bees in powered sugar, which doesn't harm the bees but makes the Varroa mites let go of the bees and fall away. It's safer for the bees than the various chemicals that have been tried over the last 15 years, and more effective than most of them, too. In the article in the Seattle Times, a beekeeper whose bees were treated in the machine had this to say: "It just bounced these sugar-coated bees out into a pile."

That's an image that's going to stay with me all day.

posted by Tegan | 8:59 AM

Sunday, November 03, 2002  

Don't Get Your Feathers Ruffled

I stayed on a the Chicken Mailing List a bit longer to monitor it, in case notes from Eric's list suddenly started showing up again. In addition to a couple of nice notes from people on the list thanking me for fixing the problem, I got a couple of "silver lining" notes. One person, in particular, accidently posted his note to the list instead of mailing it to me.

It seems that prior to the mess with Eric's list, there had been some unwanted excitement on the list because of two groups of very different chicken breeders. The mess with Eric's list seems to have driven both groups away, at least for a time. The groups in question? Well, one was animal rights activists... the other was cock fighters.

At first I was just amazed. How could two groups of people with such completely different philosophies end up on one mailing list? But it made perfect sense for both groups to be one a breeding list, I guess... and it's not like it's that different from many of the lists I belong to. There always seems to be more than one prevailing opinion on a list, and it often seems to people who believe in one opinion to not understand why the other opinion can even consider themselves in the same league.

Speaking of Animals

I had the most terribly strong urge to get a cat yesterday. I had just read an article about cats in animal shelters, and I started thinking about all the advantages to having a pet around the house. I also grew up with animals always around, so it wouldn't be a new experience for me.

But there are a few reasons Eric and I haven't gotten a pet, and most of them are still in force. The big reason is expense, but there is also the time factor in properly caring for (and cleaning up after) a pet. With both of us working, we wouldn't even imagine getting a dog, but a cat seems more likely.

But then, cats tend to own you, not the other way around. There would be a few changes in how we live if we got a cat. And the cat would rule the roost. That's how cats tend to be.

I'm not convincing myself, but I'm pretty sure Eric would seriously object to an animal in our lives at this point, so I don't see it happening. But I'm sure the urge won't go away soon. well, unless I imagine the beasty eating up/chewing up my LEGO, then it's easier to say "maybe not yet"

Seattle Sports Report

I just turned off the Seahawks game. Not because they were losing (although they were) but because they just didn't seem to be playing. I used to attend High School Football games because I was in the band. I used to watch Huskies Football all the time and enjoy it. And, even back in the day, I would watch the Seahawks and like it. But this year it's really hard for me to get "into" any Football game. I just haven't seen anything that interests me. The players seem to be going through the motions. I know it's illusion, that if I talked with those players they would tell me truthfully that they are playing hard, but it's just not working for me this year.

posted by Tegan | 2:16 PM