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Funnyfarm Fancies
Saturday, 28 February 2009

I wrote the below out in an email, talking about the DAVE SIM PETITION, and I thought that I'd post it here publicly on the blog as well.  It bugs me that less than 200 people (at the time I write this, only 157 people to be exact) have been willing to sign the online petition in support of CEREBUS creator and small-press/self-publishing great Dave Sim.  The following is what I wrote: 

Dave had been doing a blog (altho his entries sent snail-mail to someone who had internet access, who then posted them online) a couple years ago which I'd read every now & then.  (Currently I get my blog fix by reading Steve Bissette's blog at a few times per week, since Dave's blog hasn't been updated much in almost 2 years.) 

So, back in 2007, I'd been working on my GOFAR column for Gene Kehoe -- I'd send Gene an updated version of the column every 6 months or so, so the version that saw print in IAF #50 would be fresh -- and I'd thought that Gene should send IAF to Dave Sim and maybe Dave could plug it on his blog.  (Like I said, this was back around 2 years ago.)  So, when I started up Ditkomania, it was natural for me to take my own advice and send Dave a copy of DM.  (I didn't have home access to the internet from July 2007 to Nov 2008, so I was not really aware then that Dave's blog was not being updated much anymore.  Still, I probably would have sent him a copy anyway because of his vocal support of small-press publications.) 

Around this same time, Dave sent out a form letter to all his correspondents asking them to sign a petition affirming that they do not believe him to be a misogynist, if they wished to keep in contact with him.  After all, if they really felt he was a misogynist, they wouldn't want to be associated with him anyway.  This was a way for Dave to weed out the people who weren't worth spending his time answering their letters, helping their efforts, etc.  This sounded fair enough to me, and I believe that the "misogynist" label, and labels like it, are often used to shut down debate against certain people without having to address their points.  I signed the petition, not really expecting that I'd be getting anything in return, since I learned that Dave's blogging days were over.  Although I don't agree with all of Dave's views on gender, I believe that he is a serious and thoughtful person (not a nut, like some apparently think) who deserves to be taken seriously and treated with the respect and consideration that any other comics great deserves.  

You can sign the Dave Sim petition (and view the singatures)at

After I signed the petition, I received my first of several letters in the mail from Dave, as well as the pin-ups for Ditkomania, etc. some of them emailed to me by Sandeep Atwal who has been working with him on the technical side on his current series "glamourpuss."  It was Sandeep I believe who first showed Dave a copy of one of the Snyder-Ditko packages a few years ago, which got Dave interested in the Ditko-Snyder stuff.  Every month or so, I usually send Dave a couple items I've seen on the web, since he doesn't have internet access, and usually receive a reply in return.  I got a 2-page letter from him in the mail yesterday, in fact. 

So far it looks like only 157 people have signed Dave's online petition, which is around 10 more people than the amount of people that I sent copies of the new issue of DM to yesterday.  It's a privilege to be in contact with him and I'm glad that I signed the petition in support of Dave when the chance was offered to me.  Like Dave said in his review of Blake's Ditko book, sometimes people will cry a river of tears when someone passes away, but where were they when the person was alive and could have used their support?  I'm glad I had the opportunity to give my support (to both Dave and Ditko), what little it may be worth. 

Posted by rimes12 at 2:57 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 28 February 2009 3:00 PM EST
Friday, 27 February 2009
Letter Pages

I wrote the following today in an email and thought I'd share it here.  The new issue of Ditkomania came out this week (most people will probably receive their copies on Monday, March 2nd) and it has a bigger than usual lettercol this time.  Anyway here's what I wrote:

We've all seen how DC has gotten rid of their letterpages -- saying that everyone is commenting online now so they are redundant -- but I think it is like throwing away an advantage that print has over the internet.  If I get my name printed in a comicbook, that is a lot cooler and impressive than if I have a post posted somewhere on the internet (along with everybody else who has internet access and a keyboard).  Plus certain fannish titles like Legion, Booster Gold, etc. would surely benefit by generating excitement from their fans in the comic itself... A few years ago there was a Legion comic where the lettercol was laid out as a comics story, in fact, with the characters answering their fan mail!  It takes the fun out of it all by replacing it with a corporate-looking company hype page. 


Posted by rimes12 at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 20 December 2008
First Day of This New Blog
I created this blog last night, but today I'm adding to it a bunch of older postings that I've made on various message boards (or emails) since 2002, before they get erased over time on those other websites.  (I didn't pick the year 2002 to start from; that's how far back the options allow me to date old entries for this blog.)  Older postings (pre-2002) that I've made over the years, including posts made on the previous version of my website, can be found in the "Journal" link on this page.

Posted by rimes12 at 12:06 PM EST
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Bad economy kills my longtime comics shop
Well, I stopped in to my local comics shop today and picked up the two new releases that were waiting in my pull bag: the new ASM by Roger Stern & Lee Weeks, and the latest issue of Alter Ego magazine. I told the man behind the counter that I wanted to look on the new releases shelf, too, and grabbed the latest Booster Gold. I had let BG slip off my pull list recently, and decided to grab the other 3 most recent issues of the series that I had missed. After ringing up my order, the man behind the counter, the owner of the store, dropped the bombshell: tomorrow would be the last day that the store would be receiving a shipment of new comics.

The store is, and has always been, a used bookstore, but with one-third of the store devoted to comics, mostly newer ones. It was the first comics shop that I ever went to, back around 1979-80 when I was around 8 to 9 years old. Other comics shops in the neighborhood had come and gone, including many that were far superior in every way, but this shop had outlasted most of them, probably because of the used books part of the store. For around the past 8 years, I've had my pull list at this store. Because I always ordered something out of the Previews catalog every month, and had a few titles on my monthly pull, I would get the catalog for free from them each month, to order out of. Discounts on new comics were usually 20% off, but if you bought over $24.00 worth of new releases, they'd take 30% off. I don't drive, so even though it was far away, I was able to take a bus to its neighborhood and then it was just a 30-minute walk to the shop.

Anyway, today the owner told me that they were no longer going to be carrying comics, after 30 years in business. Tomorrow they would receive their last shipment of new comics. By January 6th, they would no longer be carrying any comics at all, and he invited me to stop in after the new year for the sale they'd be having to get rid of them. I gestured to the part of the store that the comics presently occupied and asked, "So, all this part will be for the used books, too?" and he said, "Until March." What happens in March? That's when he is going to decide whether to shut the whole store down for good.

So, this sucks. And now I have to begin the somewhat painful process of figuring out where I'm going to be getting my comics at from now on. Although I voted for change last month, this is the kind of change I hate. I have to find another place to set up a pull list (and find out what each store's policies are, discounts, rules, etc.), deal with a new set of people I don't know, figure out how I'm going to get there every month (and ideally every week), and so on. I don't have a ton of options obviously. I went to two comics shops today to find out their pull-list policies and neither one offered a free Previews catalog each month as part of the deal. The highest discount they offered on new comics was 20%, not 30% (a fact about my current shop that had always factored into my purchases). One of them had a rule about having to have six monthly titles on your pull list, and older titles have to be purchased before you can get newer ones. (I don't know these people, so I don't know how strictly they enforce these rules.)

Unfortunately, that shop is along a nearby bus route so I will probably end up choosing to go with them simply so I can go there on a regular basis without too much difficulty -- regardless of whether I like their rules or not. I can understand their not giving out a Previews catalog free due to cost involved, but it does mean that I'll have to look online more for what's being ordered instead of relying on the convenience of browsing through the catalog. (Maybe I can simply browse through it at the shop, too.) I only have 3 monthlies that I want pulled (not counting mini-series), but some irregularly published independents (such as three of the TwoMorrows magazines and the upcoming "3 Geeks" mini-series), but I'm not sure how friendly they are to my wanting to order stuff like that every month.

In the back of my mind, there is also a thought that maybe I just ought to forget setting up a pull list somewhere else. When I was a kid, I didn't go to comics shops as regularly as I do now; most of my new comics purchases were made at drugstores and 7-11s and regular bookstores. I've sometimes wondered if I should go back to that model, and maybe pick up my new comics at the local Borders as they arrive on the rack, without knowing what to expect. Maybe it will be more fun that way, I think.

But then I hate the idea of missing an issue of the latest Captain America or DD or The Twelve. And the only place I can find the mags like Alter Ego, Back Issue and Jack Kirby Collector are at comics shops (I can't afford to subscribe to them by mail), and I don't want to take a chance missing one of them. I enjoy being able to walk into the shop and get the latest issue of these titles without having to hunt for them, or be surprised by their presence (or lack of presence) on the shelves. On the other hand, I'd have more money if I wasn't buying new comics every month.

The only thing that makes me want to set up a pull list at a new comics shop, and go through the hassle of setting one up and getting to know this new shop's ways, is my enjoyment of certain new releases. Some people go to the movies every weekend; I buy a new comic. And when I look at it that way, the comics spending doesn't seem as expensive.

I'm not looking forward to this change. I just hope this new comics shop stays in business for awhile so that I don't have to go through all this again, say, a year from now. But the way things are going with the economy (and since comics shops have rarely lasted long around here regardless), I'm not optimistic.

Posted by rimes12 at 8:43 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 20 December 2008 3:09 AM EST
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
My cheap comics purchases yesterday

I don't have home access to the internet anymore, so I don't post much on message boards these days. But back when I did have the internet, I used to write posts like this one on CBR, bragging about the back issues that I'd gotten dirt-cheap at comics shops or conventions.

So, here's a new post in that vein, inspired by the fact that yesterday I went to a local comics shop and bought the comics listed below for a total of... five bucks.

The shop has one of the coolest ideas for their cheap bins that I've ever run across. In one side of the shop, they have several rows of long boxes of comics, the cheap-o stuff that is priced at 25 or 50 cents each (I forget which). But they have some brown paper bags nearby, and the deal is that you can fill up a bag of these cheap comics for five bucks. The brown paper bags are thin ones, the kind to put a magazine of two in, but of course I manage to pack a whole lot of comics into those things!

I have a notebook where I've written down all the comics in my collection, and I take that with me when I go comics shopping. In the end, I put some comics back because I already had them... including a 1970s Marvel Premiere starring Iron Fist issue. And others I put back because there was no room in the bag. (Money was short and I wanted to limit myself to one bag.)

So, here's what I bought yesterday at the shop, for a total of five dollars...

AMAZING HEROES #22 (April 1983)
John Byrne’s Alpha Flight previewed, including a Byrne cover. Funny little fine-print on the cover where it gives the price, “$1.95 . $2.50 in Canada (Sorry, John)” These old zines are good places to get info on comics of the time, including things which were planned but never got published. Page 18 shows Steve Ditko’s pencils to an upcoming Hangman story for Archie/Red Circle, before the page was inked.

ATTACK #13 (Modern Comics/Charlton, 1978)
Modern’s reprint of the 1973 Charlton war comic. The cover is by Tom Sutton, to go with the 8-page Sutton-drawn tale inside.

AZTEC ACE #9 & 13 (Eclipse, 1985)
This is one of those series that eventually I’d like to get ‘em all (cheap) and then read ‘em, as they look intriguing. I also bought #10, but it turns out that I had that one already.

BEYOND THE GRAVE #2 (Modern Comics/Charlton, 1978)
This is the Modern reprint of the 1975 Charlton issue. I actually already have this issue, but wasn’t sure what condition it was in, so I got this one just in case, since it’s in nice condition. This issue has an unusually long Ditko tale (11 pages) plus Ditko cover to go with the story. There was also a Modern reprint of an issue of DRAG N’ WHEELS in the bin, but I knew I already had that one in decent enough condition, so I didn’t get it. It’s always nice to get a 1970s Charlton comic in nice condition, since I’m so used to seeing them in less-than-perfect shape (to put it mildly).

BLACK DIAMOND #5 (AC Comics, 1984)
I didn’t know this series had run beyond 3 issues. The Paul Gulacy cover is what caught my attention. A full color indie comic, back when AC was doing that.

CENTURIONS #4 (DC; Sept. 1987)
Final issue of mini-series by Bob Rozakis, Don Heck, and Al Vey, based on a TV cartoon of the time.

CODY STARBUCK by Howard Chaykin (Star*Reach, 1978)
This is a full color comic which shows just how good Chaykin was back then. The art looks like something Frank Miller would draw, but a few years before Miller was drawing like that. Chaykin’s line art in the comic is really stripped-down, letting the colorist (Chaykin?) add the shadings with color, not lines. That results in a far more attractive looking art than what Chaykin’s art normally looks like, IMO. This is one stylish, good-looking, ahead-of-its-time comic.

CRASH RYAN #3 (Epic/Marvel; Dec. 1984)
Four-issue limited series written and drawn by Ron Harris. Still don’t have #1, but I’m sure it will turn up in these boxes one day.

CROSSFIRE #21, 22, 24 (Eclipse, 1987)
I finally got around to reading some issues of this series (as well as the later Epic series HOLLYWOOD SUPERSTARS) a few weeks ago, and liked ‘em so much that I made a mental note to get more CROSSFIRE. So, I was very pleased to see these issues in the very first of the cheap boxes that I started to look through. (Great way to start a cheap-bin dig… when you immediately come across something you’d been hoping to find. That helps give you more energy in digging past so many undesirable comics, in the hope that you’ll stumble upon more of what you’d been looking for, so that you don’t feel like you’re wasting your time.) Each issue of CROSSFIRE has a great text-page (actually several pages) backup article by Mark Evanier about showbiz, which are worth reading on their own, never mind the comic part of the mag. However, the comic part is also terrific, with great art by the underrated Dan Spiegle. Dan has an art style reminiscent of the 1950s Alex Toth. I first discovered his work in 1983 in Black Hood #3 (great issue, by the way – Toth and Boyette are also in that issue), and I assumed that he was a younger artist for some reason. I only recently discovered, if his Wikipedia entry is correct, that he was actually born in 1920 (making him 7 years older than Steve Ditko). His art in CROSSFIRE is wonderful, and it’s great that Mark Evanier used him for this series (as well as WHODUNNIT? and the aforementioned HOLLYWOOD SUPERSTARS). Spiegle is one of those older artists (like Gray Morrow, Pat Boyette, etc.) whose style didn’t really fit the Kirby superhero style that began to increasingly dominate comics. The lead hero of CROSSFIRE is a masked hero, but I think that’s just a clever way of sucking in the superhero readers, so that it looks like a superhero comic without actually being a superhero comic. Anyway, if you ever see any CROSSFIRE in the back issue boxes, get ‘em, they’re great!

THE DESTROYER Vol. Two #1 (Marvel; March 1991)
I had known that Ditko had drawn at least two Destroyer stories, and didn’t have them in my collection, so I opened this comic up to check, and sure enough there was a Ditko backup tale (inked by Ditko, too) inside. The lead story was drawn by Lee Weeks, whose art I also like. And both stories were written by the great Will Murray, whose comics history articles I have enjoyed since I was 13 years old. (Incidentally, Will has a short article in the current issue (#69) of Ditkomania – a little plug for my fanzine there…) This comic is thicker than a regular comic and I look forward to reading it.

ECLIPSE MONTHLY #8 (Eclipse; May 1984)
Almost missed this one because the cover and format doesn’t look like the previous issues of the series that I have. Again, a full color indie comic of the early 1980s. Back when there was a sense of excitement and experimentation (but also a lot of quality professional-looking art) in the independent comics scene.

EVANGELINE Vol. One #1 & 2 (Comico, 1984)
EVANGELINE Vol. Two #3 & 5 (First, 1987-88)
Great-looking full color indie comic with traditional style art.

GRIMJACK #3 (First; Oct. 1984)
Art by Tim Truman in the lead story, art by Steve Bissette in the back-up tale. (I assume this is the story that Steve has written about recently on his blog.) Another full color 1980s indie comic. (Notice a pattern?)

JONNY QUEST #4 (Comico; Sept. 1986)
Great art by the great (and underrated) Tom Yeates.

JUSTICE MACHINE ANNUAL #1 (Texas/Noble, 1983)
This is a thick full color indie comic with nice professional artwork. Front cover by Mike Golden. Guest-stars the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents! And apparently this was the first appearance (in the back-up slot) of Bill Willingham’s The Elementals, who later had their own series.

KROFFT SUPERSHOW #4 (Gold Key; Sept. 1978)
I know that when I was little, I loved this TV show, but now for the life of me I can’t quite recall enough about it to know why.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol. Two #21, 29, 35 (DC; 1986-87)
Nice (Mando or Baxter?) paper, nice Bronze Age style art by Greg LaRocque and Mike DeCarlo, nice covers, so that’s why I got ‘em. #21 has a tear in the cover’s spine unfortunately.

Nice painted cover by Pat Boyette. This was back when the Charlton titles were (as they boasted on their covers) “All New.”

This all-Ditko comic reprints Marvel Spotlight #5 (from 1980), Speedball #1 (from 1988), and one story from Amazing Adult Fantasy #14 (1962). I already had all these stories in other comics, but figured I’d get this reprint since it has them on nice glossy paper. Unfortunately, I’m not crazy about the reproduction quality of the Speedball issue (plus there are 3 Speedball pin-ups by other artists which could have been dropped in favor of more Ditko art). If they had to use Speedball, maybe it would have been a better idea to collect some of those Speedball tales that Ditko did for the anthology titles like Marvel Comics Presents – that way, they’d all be in one comic to make it easier to add to one’s Speedball collection. (Better yet, they could just do a trade paperback collecting all the old Speedball stories in one book.) Still, it’s nice to have “Dragon Lord” on good paper.

MICRONAUTS #32 (Marvel; Aug. 1981)
Nice condition, nice looking art by Pat Broderick. This was the Marvel that I grew up reading, back when I was a pre-teen Marvel fan.

MS. TREE SUMMER SPECIAL #1 (Renegade Press; Aug. 1986)
I read this whole comic this morning, and it’s a great issue, especially the Bobby Darin bio backup tale and Max Collins’ article recalling his days in a rock band in the 1960s. It’s gems like this – not considered to be “cool” comics but which are dang good reads -- that make digging thru the cheap bins worth it.

THE NEW DNAgents #4 (Eclipse; Dec. 1985)
This was the second volume of DNAgents (“Whole no. 28” it says in the indicia). Originally I thought that I’d limit my cheap-comic purchases to the first volume only, but I happened to pick up a couple of the later ones and liked them, so before I bought this one, I flipped it open, the art (by Chuck Patton) looked okay, so I got it.

NEXUS #16 (First; Jan. 1986)
Slowly building up my Nexus collection. Great Steve Rude cover and inside art, as always.

RAWHIDE KID #46 (Marvel; June 1965)
Lousy condition, but I was pleased to discover that there’s a 5-page back-up story in here written and drawn by Alex Toth! (Or “Al Toth” as he is listed in the credits box.) Unfortunately, his pencils are inked by Vince Colletta -- obliterating Toth’s elegant simplicity with his own needlessly scratchy style. It’s a real shame that Toth didn’t ink this one himself.

RIO AT BAY #2 (Dark Horse, 1992)
Turns out that I have this one already, so it goes in the “get rid of/sell/trade” box. I had seen the first issue in the cheap bin as well, but knew I had that one already; didn’t recall the cover of the second issue, and didn’t have time to consult my list.

RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT! #50 (Gold Key; Oct. 1974)

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #32-34 (Marvel magazine, 1978)
CONAN SAGA #32 (Marvel magazine; Dec. 1989)
MARVEL COMICS SUPER SPECIAL #2 (1977, Savage Sword of Conan)
SAVAGE TALES Featuring KA-ZAR #12 (Annual #1) (Summer 1975)
The above six magazines were all laying on top of the cheap bin and so I asked the guy at the store if they were part of the “fill a bag for $5.00” deal, and he said yes, so it took me about 30 seconds to put them all in a bag. (There were actually a few I left behind, including one great book that I plan to get next time. There was literally no more room in the paper bag after these mags were squeezed into it!) The Marvel Comics Super Special issue is a special full color issue of Savage Sword, the rest are B&W.

SUN DEVILS #12 (DC; June 1985)
Final issue of the maxi-series, written and drawn by Dan Jurgens. Shows how good his art was even back then in the early days.

TEAM YANKEE #3 & 6 (First, 1989)
Six-issue war-comic mini-series with traditional style artwork.

VALKYRIE #3 (Eclipse, 1988)
Sometimes it’s a good thing that I don’t have time to look at my list when I’m buying comics. If I had looked at my list, I would have assumed that I had this comic already, since it lists that I already have Valkyrie mini-series #1-3 from 1987. Turns out that there was a second 3-issue Valkyrie mini-series the following year, so I didn’t have this one.

WARLORD #1 (DC; Jan.-Feb. 1976)
Now this was a surprise to find. I have to admit that I’ve never really READ Warlord, but I pick them up whenever I see them in the cheap bins, with the intention of eventually reading ‘em at some point. At least I know the art is good on the series (first by Mike Grell, then by Dan Jurgens, later by Ron Randall, etc.). There’s a tear on the cover of this one, which is probably why the issue ended up in the cheap bin.

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #40 (Marvel; July 1988)
I like the old Bronze Age style of art that Alex Saviuk (who drew this issue) and Larry Lieber were providing Spidey at this time. Not enough to buy them when they came out, mind you (I quit buying Spidey, and most other current mainstream comics, in 1989 and stayed away for the most part until 1997), but they are okay to get cheap.

WORLD’S FINEST #225 (DC; Sept.-Oct. 1974)
This is one of those big “100 Pages for Only 60¢” issues, loaded with reprints (including tales of Rip Hunter, Black Canary, and The Vigilante). The main defects are that the back cover is missing (which was likely all ads anyway) and a fold along the middle of the comic. (Now who could have tried to fold a comic this thick into their back pocket??)

YOUNG LOVE #44 (DC; July-Aug. 1964)
YOUNG LOVE #45 (DC; Sept.-Oct. 1964)
One of them has some chunks missing near the bottom of the cover, the other has a loose (but intact) middle page and some paper curl, but both are readable. And I’ve rarely seen DC romance comics priced at less than 4 bucks each, which is why I own so few of them, so this was a nice find. I detected some Romita in the art (which is all unsigned), although I could be mistaken.

And there you have it: around 50 comics that I bought yesterday for a mere 5 bucks.

It’s moments like this that make me glad to be a comics fan, to be able to walk out of a store with a bag crammed full of comics for less than it costs to buy, say, two brand-new comics. I had borrowed a twenty dollar bill from my sister to pay for this, and so when she picked me up, I had the odd feeling of handing her back a ten and a five and then dropping a big stack of comics in the backseat. All for five bucks. I think that means it comes to around 10 cents per comic. And the thing is… there are more cheap boxes there. I amassed the above lot in around 30 minutes or so. I had the chance to only look through about one-fifth of the “fill a bag for $5” boxes there. I didn’t even look at the “$1.00 each” boxes at the front of the store. I will have to make another trip back up there soon…

Posted by rimes12 at 3:39 PM EST
Thursday, 10 May 2007
My top 10 favorite albums of all time
To limit mine to one artist each, I'll say:

1.) The Beatles, Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
(actually Revolver and The White Album are my two favorite Beatles albums, but I've been listening to MMT a lot lately)

2.) Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
This has 3 of my all-time favorite Dylan songs on it -- "Like a Rolling Stone," "Ballad of a Thin Man" and "Desolation Row" -- but all of Dylan's albums including this one are a little uneven to me. (But then the same could be said of any album, including Revolver and the White album.) But this has the highest percentage of great songs on it IMO. Also in the running for me would be The Freewheelin Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, and Blood on the Tracks. If I can include later releases of old material, I'd put Bootleg Series Volume One (rare early 1960s recordings) and Volume Six (1964 Halloween concert). In fact, I've loaned out Volume Six to someone -- the whole thing -- because I think the whole 2-CD set is good, worth hearing in its entirety.

3.) Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
This is like their own "Abbey Road," the culmination of all the great production methods learned from the 1960s, maturely channeled into serving the songs. My second choice would be the wonderful "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Tyhme" from 1966 -- I would say it was S&G's "Revolver." Third choice would be "Bookends," another great album.

4.) Pink Floyd, The Wall (1979)
I don't care what anyone says, this is a masterful album -- sort of like the rock album as a movie or novel. (And forget the movie of The Wall, I'm not talking about that.)

5.) The Monkees, Pisces Aquarius Capricorn & Jones Ltd. (1967)
Again, I don't care what people think of me for being a Monkees fan. These are great pop songs that are well done, much better than a lot of the more respected artistes have managed to do. The only drawback is that sometimes the instrumentation seems a little too weak, which is to be expected considering its a combination of the Monkees themselves (whose abilities vary) and studio musicians (who may be professional but lack the fire within). I never thought I'd love "Cuddly Toy" -- I hated it when I was younger -- but I love it now.

6.) Todd Rundgren, A Wizard / A True Star (1973)
I haven't listened to this in years, but I remember it being great. I only have it on vinyl LP, not a CD, and my turntable hasn't been hooked up in years. One of these days I'll have to get it on CD and see if it still is as good as I remember. (I think it will be. Any album that segues "You Need Your Head" into "Rock and Roll Pussy" into "Dogfight Giggle" in the space of 5 minutes can't go wrong.)

7.) The Dukes of Stratosphear, Psonic Psunspot (1988)
This is another one that I only have on vinyl. The CD Version combines their earlier EP with this album, under the new title of Chips from a Chocolate Fireball (or something like that). I don't have the CD, though. The Dukes are really XTC, and this entire album is an homage to 1960s pop-rock, culminating in the Brian Wilson-inspired "Pale and Precious."

8.) Queen, Sheer Heart Attack (1974)
While this album doesn't have my all-time favorite Queen songs (those would be on a greatest hits compilation, and I decided not to choose any Greatest Hits albums for this list), I think it's the most cohesive and fully listenable of Queen's albums from beginning to end. (Okay, I kind of lose interest a bit after "Bring Back Leroy Brown," but then how could you top something like that?) My second Queen choice would be A Night At The Opera, the album which came out the following year, and which contained "Bohemian Rhapsody."

9.) The Rutles, The Rutles (1978)
This is a bit of a cheat, since they are a Beatles parody band, but I love the Beatles and love the Rutles sound as well, not surprisingly. But I think it's even better than mere parody. If, like me, you wish their were more "new Beatles music" to listen to, this is as about as close as you can get. Neil Innes, the Rutles songwriter and main singer (he does the "John" voices), is underappreciated, talented in his own right.

10.) Kiss, Destroyer (1976)
OK, so I ran out of room and wasn't able to include all the other great albums I love. But this is the album I've owned the longest of any on this list, buying it as an LP in the late 1970s (along with most of the other available Kiss albums of the time -- they were my favorite band when I was 8 years old, and Queen was 2nd favorite). I recently listened to the CD in its entirety and found myself enjoying every minute of it. Sure it's a bit embarrassing to admit it, sure the lyrics can be adolescent, but it's ambitious, melodic, Beatlesque, and fun, with lots of variety. Not all the songs sound the same. And when I listened to it recently, I noticed (which I hadn't before) how much the choir-backed "Great Expectations" (a somewhat embarrassingly vulgar song about how being a famous rock star makes women lust after you) reminded me of The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

Honorable mentions:
Johnny Cash, Ride This Train (1960)
The Beach Boys, Beach Boys Party (1965)
The Rolling Stones, Their Satanic Majesty's Request (1967)
Syd Barrett, Madcap Laughs (1970)
John Lennon, John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band (1970)
E.L.O, Time (1981)
Roger Waters, The Pros & Cons of Hitchhiking (1984)
The Jesus and Mary Chain, Psychocandy (1985)
Scritti Politti, Cupid & Psyche '85 (1985)
dc Talk, Jesus Freak (1995)
Miss Angie, 100 Million Eyeballs (1997)
Outrageous Cherry, Supernatural Equinox (2002)

(Incidentally, I find Outrageous Cherry's current album, Stay Happy, which came out October 2006, to be more thoroughly listenable from beginning to end, without skipping any tracks, than the above choice, but the individual songs, while very good, don't equal the greatness of some of those on the 2002 release. So, the 2002 album is more uneven, only two-thirds listenable, but the good songs on it are some of my all-time favorites by them.)

And I'm leaving out a whole bunch of artist I love like Buddy Holly, The Lovin' Spoonful, Jan & Dean, The Doors, Lou Reed, T. Rex, The Who, etc. because I can't settle on just one album.

Posted by rimes12 at 12:39 PM EDT
Saturday, 24 February 2007
The Demise of the Comics Spinner
I've posted about this before, but bear with me -- another angle on this just occured to me recently.

Lately I've become interested in local history and checking out various places in my neighborhood, particularly stores. A couple days ago I was walking around and walked by a Circle K convenience store which in the 1990s had been a Dairy Mart. Back in the 1980s, such stores in my area usually had a comics spinner of the current crop of comics. In the 1980s, most of my new comics purchases were made not at a comics shop, but at the local Dairy Mart and local 7-11 stores. I went to those convenience stores every week, mainly to buy the new comics. I even recall once when the new week's worth had arrived and the guy let me go through them before he had even put them in the spinner.

Now, however, these convenience stores (at least in my area) don't have comics spinners, and usually don't carry comics anymore even in the magazine shelf. So when I passed the local Circle K a few days ago, I didn't even bother going in. It was cold outside, so I wasn't going to buy a frozen drink or anything. However, if they carried comics, then I probably would have gone in, just to check out the comics. So, it seems to me that by dropping comics, this store has lost a potential customer. I don't know how many people there were like me, though. But when I think about how frequently I used to go to convenience stores in the 1980s compared to now, it seems to me that the lack of comics is the main reason that I don't go there much anymore.

However, local places that do carry comics, I do tend to make a point of visiting. There's a drugstore that is on the same road as my local comics shop, and when I walk to the comics shop, I often stop at the drugstore first to check out their magazine section. The drugstore has been there since the 1950s and reminds me of drugstores from my youth. They even still carry cold soda pop in glass bottles. They don't have a comics spinner, but they do have around a dozen different titles (mainly Marvel, DC, and Archie comics) on the magazine shelf. They also carry Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and one of the science-fiction mags, Analog I think. Not many places around here, outside of the bookstores, carry those either. So, as I said, whenever I walk to the LCS, I often stop in there to check out the comics & mags and sometimes get a pop or something to munch on for the long walk up to the LCS. So, by carrying comics, this drugstore has gotten me in their door as a potential customer, whereas otherwise I probably wouldn't have any desire to go in there. I think stores are only hurting themselves when they don't carry comics, and comics companies are only hurting themselves when they don't supply such stores with their product.

A second thing I've noticed lately is the recent popularity in my local area of Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy stores. As recently as the early 1990s, I hadn't seen a Walgreens in my area. Now there are TWO Walgreens store within a 10 to 20 minute walking distance. CVS has also become more popular, moving out of their smaller strip-mall spaces and building their own big new stand-alone stores on many major street corners around here. It seems like on every major street corner now there is either a Walgreens, CVS, or Rite-Aid. These places should have comics! While Mother is getting little Johnny's prescription filled, she (or sick Johnny) could be getting a new Spider-Man comic to make him feel better. If such stores can still sell candy bars (at higher prices than I paid when I was a kid), why not comics?

Although part of my reason for wanting to see comics in such places is for nostalgic reasons, for things to be like when I was a kid, I also think it makes good business sense, to get people like me into their stores more frequently. What do you think?

Posted by rimes12 at 12:56 AM EST
Monday, 22 May 2006
A Just War?
"U.S. Military Deaths: Between the start of war on March 19, 2003 and August 22, 2005 2,060 coalition forces have been killed, including 1,866 U.S. military personnel.
(Not sure if they are counting Iraq only or Afghanistan as well...)

Total number killed in attacks (official figure as of 9/5/02): 2,819
(Not sure if they are just counting WTC-related deaths or all Sept 11-related deaths.)

I think the question has to be asked, was our response to 9/11 just? Have we sent 2000+ of our soldiers to their deaths in response (rhetorically anyway) to an enemy who sent 2000+ of our civilians to their deaths? Have we killed thousands more Iraqis (the first website says around 25,000) to avenge the deaths of 2000? Is that just? Isn't that a bit of overkill?

It would be like if I suspected someone had broken my $20 CD walkman, so in response I went over to their house and destroyed their $200 TV set and then set about to wrecking the rest of their home. How could anyone argue that that would be a reasonable and fair response?

And then we wonder why they hate us. Well, I guess most of us aren't wondering about that anymore.

Most of us seem to think that Afghanistan is the success story and Iraq is the real quagmire. I wonder about that. I'd like to see some of the numbers for Afghanistan, separate from the Iraq numbers, so we can see how many lives we've lost, how many we've taken, just in Afghanistan, and then compare them to the numbers lost in 9/11 and see if they consititute a just response. I get the feeling that if we had such numbers for Afghanistan readily available, and more coverage about its continuing problems, more Americans would change their minds about our Afghanistan venture being a "success," or even whether it was a "just cause."

This just in from Yahoo News: "US-led attack kills 76 in Afghanistan"

This sentence deserves noting: "The United States, which had been hoping to cut its Afghan force to 16,500, has 23,000 troops in Afghanistan, the highest number since 2001." (Emphasis mine.)

Posted by rimes12 at 9:05 AM EDT
Saturday, 6 May 2006
Pete Stewart Speaks Out
The newest edition of INFUZE Magazine has an interview with Pete Stewart. For most of his career, Pete had been involved in the Christian music scene: in the mid-1990s with his band Grammatrain, as a solo artist circa 1999, and then with the band Tait around 2001. But then the next anybody heard, he had joined up with P.O.D.'s former guitarist Marcos Curiel with a new band called The Accident Experiment, whose dark lyrics surprised some of Pete's old fans. Some of them wondered if Pete was still a Christian. The controversy that started a couple years ago with the creation of The Accident Experiment continues to this day. I had hoped that Pete would have given an interview to the Christian media to explain his side of things, but at the time someone said Pete wasn't ready to talk. Now he is ready, but unfortunately it sounds like he is holding back in a way. In the "Comments" section below the interview, one of the interviewers hints that Pete is no longer a Christian based on one of his answers. Still, if Pete doesn't know what he believes, or whatever, I would have preferred him to say one way or another. Not that it's any of my business, but I think such clarity would then silence all the speculation chatter that erupts ("Is he or isn't he?") when one is vague about it.

And with that, it's now time for bed! Yawn!

Posted by rimes12 at 1:30 AM EDT
Saturday, 9 April 2005
If I Was a Comics Publisher...
I would try to do what Charlton used to do. I'd pretty much ignore comics fandom, the way Archie Comics tends to do today. I'd try to focus on getting casual readers, particularly kids and people who don't want to follow lots of continued stories.

I wouldn't try to compete with DC and Marvel with their style of superhero/fantasy comics, because they already do that better than anyone else. (That would be like trying to compete against Archie's teen humor comics. Archie would win.)

I'd try to make my comics really cheap. There are lots of "dollar stores" around these days which sell all sorts of things for only a dollar. Some of them even have DVDs for a dollar each! I would try to put out some "Dollar Comics" to sell in such dollar stores. To keep costs down, perhaps the material within would be reprints of old 1950s public domain comics or foreign comics or taken from comic strips. I'd try to get the rights to put out comicbook versions of popular comic strips. In Australia, Frew has published a lot of vintage as well as brand-new Phantom comics; I'd try to reprint them for American audiences. There could even be an American version of the Beano (long-running U.K. series). A lot of the material would be considered "new" because it hasn't been seen before by most people in the U.S.

There could also be some new material, new comics made. I would focus on anthology titles with short stories by some of the old-timers as well as people just starting out who may have that traditional style. I'd let the creators own their own characters, have their own copyright, and would discourage a Marvel/DC-style assembly-line method of production where tasks are divided among different people. If it's an 8-page story, the artist might be able to pencil, ink, and letter it all himself, and might even prefer to do so, especially since he will own the artwork.

I'd start out small, just putting out some stuff in dollar stores and so on, beneath the radar of fandom until things got more successful.

Posted by rimes12 at 11:46 PM EDT

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