The next comics-to-film adaptation is looming large. We're barely a day away from the opening of the new Spider-Man flick, directed by Evil Dead dude Sam Raimi. Not by coincidence, we're also barely a day away from Free Comic Book Day.
Yes, you read that right. Free Comic Book Day. A couple of dozen of publishers have teamed with their distribution networks and retail outlets to give away comics as a promotional event. All of the key players are participating: DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Archie, and lots of other. The big day is Saturday, May 4th, 2002, so make sure that you head on down to your local comics store to grab some corporate swag. Tell your friends and bring your kids. While you're there, shop around a bit - there's loads of great new and back issues waiting for your credit cards.
How do you find your local comic store? If your phone book yellow pages come up empty, point your browser towards The Master List of Comic Book and Trading Card Stores; they'll point you in the right direction.
Other items of recent interest...
Comics writer/artist Colleen Doran has written a great column over at Slush Factory that provides practical advice on time management for people working in the creative arts. Colleen is best known for her long-running 'A Distant Soil' series, trade paperback collections of which, along with other goodies, can be purchased directly from her studio.
Mark Evanier, who has written for television, film, animation, comics, and a little something called 'Groo The Wanderer', has added a previously published column of his to his web site that delves into the compulsive collecting syndrome. This is a subject long familiar to comics geeks like us, and push comes to shove, we all still have our particular collecting joneses that act up at the most inconvenient (and often expensive) times. It's a toss-up as to which aspect of eBay is the worst: that it makes the hunt that much easier, or that it so drastically accelerates what we end up spending.
(Self-confession: It's the DC 100-Pagers from the early 1970s that are turning my crank these days, but I still want that copy of 'Alex Toth By Design', dammit.)
Newsarama has more pages of debate, discussion, and tomfoolery than you can shake a copy of the Liberty Meadows Wedding Album at, regarding the sandbox posturing of Bill Jemas, Joe Quesada, and Peter David that started with an announced price change for a few Marvel titles. Sometimes, you can't help but wonder about the current tenants of The House That Stan'n'Jack'n'Steve Built; sure, I'll look at a car wreck as I drive past, but I don't really like what I'm seeing.
Speaking of Liberty Meadows, now that Frank Cho has discontinued the daily newspaper strip, you'll have to truck on down to your local comics emporium to keep up with Frank, Brandy, Ralph, Truman, and the rest of the cast. Each issue reprints previously published newspaper strips in chronological order, with lots of new material interspersed. It's worth noting that the new material often includes restored versions of strips that had been "cleaned-up" for newspaper audiences and strips that Frank's newspaper editors were too fearful to run at all. If you haven't seen the strip before, do yourself a favour and browse the site to get a sense of the fun you've been missing out on.
New statistics are in from the Grand Comic Book Database, one of my most indispensable comics research tools. The GCD is a remarkably comprehensive database of information about comics, including story credits, creator credits, issue synopses, dates, and much more. Their advanced search tool is particularly useful for tracking down obscure stories and characters. As of April 2002, the database holds just under 350,000 story objects and over a million credits, giving you lots of factoids to dig through.
eBay is still a fine place to find those back issues or unique collectibles you're looking for. Remembering a few caveats is essential, though. Read the auction fine print carefully for terms and conditions; some vendors' auction descriptions can be as cagey as the end-user license agreements too many people click through without a second thought. Pay particular attention to the shipping and handling costs; some vendors tend to pad these mercilessly, and don't assume that winning multiple auctions from the same vendor is going to lead to appreciable cost savings (even if they imply otherwise). Check feedback ratings carefully. Ask questions if you're unsure about something; not only will you be better informed, but you will also be able to gauge the vendor's communications skills from the content and tone of the answers you get.
Finally, here's one from the life-imitating-art category. Every so often, someone asks where the 'proudrobot' domain name came from. It's the title of a short science fiction story that Henry Kuttner wrote some sixty-odd years ago, about a fellow whose technical genius as an inventor came out only when he was three sheets to the wind. Kind of a drunkard savant, if you will. He'd wake up after any given bender to find some oddly-fashioned, purpose unknown machine in his living room, and proceed to determine exactly what it was that he had built and for whom. Hilarity would often ensue.
In that very first story (there would eventually be five in this series), the machine in question, a sentient (and exceedingly vain) robot, turned out to be a remarkably adept beer can opener.
As it happens, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation just published a story about a mechanical engineering student at the University of Florida who has invented The Autonomous Beer-Opening Robot, which will patrol the length of a bar, detecting and opening bottles of beer.
Like I said, life imitates art.