Fool’s Gold: Searching for Longbox Treasure: Asbury Park Comic Con

When I attend a comics show, I have three goals: chat with friends and exhibitors, see what’s new, and buy comics. I don’t buy many new comics… I can wait for the trade. I don’t buy many trades… review copies arrive at my day job, keeping my eyes busy.  Plus, I don’t want to lug around forty pounds of dead trees at a convention.

So generally, I thumb through the $1 bins ($3 for older comics) looking for interesting comics.  Occasionally I’ll find an old trade paperback, and since these are not as common as today’s bestsellers, I’ll spend less than $10 if it catches my eye.  (But more if I think it’s rare.)

So here’s what I found yesterday at at the Asbury Park Comic Con!


According to Wikipedia, this collection contains two Stephen King stories not collected elsewhere:

  • “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” (based on the short story “Weeds“, first published in 1976)
  • “The Crate” (based on the short story “The Crate“”, first published in 1979)

The cover is by Jack Kamen, and the stories inside are illustrated by Bernie Wrightson (who also illustrated three other King novels).

This appears to be one of the rare Stephen King books not currently in print.  Given what Titan recently did with another popular movie adaptation, this would be an excellent candidate for a restoration/reprint.

The Big Book of Losers

Just as the Creepy and Eerie archives from Dark Horse can be used as textbooks for comics art classes, these “Big Books” from DC/Paradox Press could be a yearbook for comic-cons!

Usually written by one person (this one has three authors), these volumes contain stories of one to four pages, illustrated by some of comics best illustrators.  Some were already established when this book was published in 1997 (Bryan Talbot, Marie Severin), others were awaiting discovery (Charles Adlard).

Fun.  Educational.  Full of amazing talent.  It’s a longbox of comics in an easy-to-carry package!

Action Comics #386

Ah… the Bronze Age!  When all you needed was an outlandish cover to hook a reader!  [Hey, DC!  Put these up on Comixology for a dollar!  People will pay that just to find out what happens!  And then tell their friends!]

This is actually the second chapter of a three-part story.  The recap tells me what I needed to know (and I didn’t notice this was the second part), but I was disappointed finding out it wasn’t done-in-one.

The plot: Superman time travels, but is prevented from travelling backwards by the Time Trapper.  So he flies forward, and discovers lots of future Earths.  This one has outlawed superhero powers, as three aliens (two males, one female) arrived and saved the planet, then destroyed much of it when the two males fought over the female (see: Scott McCloud, Destroy).  So, Super Geezer is sent off to the old heroes home (a prison planet), but eventually the heroes save the day, and the law is rescinded.

The arc is somewhat dark and moody… Superman finds himself alone thousands and millions of years in the future, eager for death.  Cary Bates ends it on a cheat… time paradoxes are not easy to finagle.

Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #92

[Cue Beethoven’s Sixth.]

Lessee if I remember this correctly… Lois Lane is covering a rocket launch in the dessert.  Superman is helping NASA test a cometary probe by flying an artificial comet nearby.

Her jeep overheats, she hoofs it through the desert, and almost dies of exposure.  Enter Comet, the Super Horse, who saves Lois and brings her back to her hotel.  BUT! He is cursed!  As a centaur of ancient Greece, he pissed off an evil sorcerer, and after some help from Circe (the good one, not Wonder Woman’s nemesis), he is either a super horse, or a blue-eyed hunk of man.  The curse is triggered whenever a comet flies by, and so, for most of the story, Biron the centaur is Biron the stage magician (after finding a trunk in a nearby barn), who works his charms on Lois.  The evil sorcerer then curses Lois as a centaur, but then immediately turns her into a super horse as well!  (Now she can marry Superman!  Ride off into the sunset!  Or go on double-dates with Kara and Biron!)

Then, Superman, still flying the artifical comet, meets some Kryptonite, and Biron and Lois must save him.  Eventually, Superman and Circe help cure Lois, who, while she remembers Biron’s secret, remembers nothing of her experience as a super-quadruped.

Bonus:  That’s Neal Adams inking Curt Swan on the cover!

National Lampoon, October 1976

As a pre-teen, I would sneak a peek at my brothers’ National Lampoons from the early 1980s (I love the punk Thanksgiving cover!).  Aside from the occasional nude Photo Funnies, the only other joy were the comics.  I didn’t always understand them, but I still read them!

So when I found a comics-themed issue, I sanatched it up.  (Yes, I own the DVD-ROM of the complete NatLamp, but this is easier to read.)

Roughly half of the magazine is comics, and while I only skimmed the names, it was quite amazing to see the talent involved!  Gross, Wilson, O’Neill, Brown…

Captain Savage and His Battlefield Raiders! #18

Amazingly, it was the logo which first caught my eye.  Then it was crazy layout of John Severin!

However, the story inside isn’t that interesting, as Savage and company rescue a general from a Japanese prison camp.  Since this is the Marvel Age, while the operation is going on, Savage tells how his wife has filed for divorce.

This World War II comic was published at the height of the Vietnam War, and was cancelled with the next issue.  Savage is currently a colonel, and last appeared in “Fall of the Hulks: Gamma”.

Yahoo Comics #1 and #2

Early work from Joe Sacco, 1998.  I was unfamiliar with this series, so I bought it.

It has been collected by Fantagraphics.

I haven’t read it yet, but how bad can it be?

The New Teen Titans Annual #2 (1986)

Done-in-one (actually, two stories!)

Lots of great talent.

And Donna Troy tells her step-daughter a bedtime story.  With aliens and dinosaurs!

New Mutants annual #1 1984

I wasn’t a big fan of the New Mutants as a teen, but this has a great cover, it’s done in one, and I vaguely remember Lila Cheney.

Who Wants To Be A Superhero? FCBD 2007

Superman: The 10¢ Adventure

I like to collect freebies.  I don’t recall ever reading this Free Comic Book Day issue, and I’ve never read the Superman story.

Oh, and there was a Carvel Ice Cream comic!  What are those crazy characters?  (And where’s Fudgie the Whale?)

I also found a great “Treasure Chest” cover!  It features the pagan Easter Bunny, which is a bit strange, as Treasure Chest of Fact and Fun comics were distributed to parochial schools much like the Weekly Reader.  (Public domain copies can be read here!)  It looks like it was published after 1972, as it does not appear online yet. Which is even stranger, as the cover art has a 1940/1950s feel to it.  Treasure Chest had some mainstream talent working for them (Reed Crandell, Joe Sinnott, Jim Mooney, Dick Giordano) so maybe there’s a hidden gem within!

I also bought a few mini-comics, added a sketch to my collection of artist self-portraits, and even helped a guy flesh out (so to speak) his fetish fantasy about an overweight, blue-hued woman in the bar.

As I read these comics, I’ll post mini-reviews below.


A Growing Sense of Concern Over Variant Covers

By Todd Allen

As you’re probably aware, one of the marketing tactics Marvel is using to secure initial orders for their Marvel NOW! (Are you supposed to scream NOW! when saying that out loud?) relaunch is offering retailers variant covers tied to the number of copies of the book that are ordered.  This has started a little bit of grumbling and that grumbling’s starting to be a little more public. [Read more…]

Hotel Transylvania Brings the Box Office Back From the Dead

By Todd Allen

A $43M film debut in September?  Unheard of?  Not any more.  Hotel Transylvania shook the movie theaters out of their slump in rather dramatic fashion.  The other big debut, Bruce Willis/Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Looper, hit for $21M which would have made it a #1 film in recent weeks. [Read more…]

SPX 2012: the last photo bomb

BY JEN VAUGHN – These photos are photos that SHOULD be out on the internet somewhere instead of sitting on my phone. Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, and Charles Burns are all fantastic and so very polite, but take a peak at the cartoonists and talent (younger and not as polite) who show up at SPX year after year regardless of awards or new books. They are all very polite, I’m just kidding.

The show went amazingly wall thanks to the giant team of volunteers, Warren Bernard, Michael David Thomas and countless others who were busy helping all of us. My favorite part was probably those foldable trashcans put in the booths. A small touch but loads nicer than seeing plastic bags full of coffee cups and banana peels laying on the ground JUST WAITING to be plotzed on. The Friday night party was hoppin’ at the Marriott thanks to free food and Mark Newgarden‘s animation extravaganza. Here I am sandwiched inbetween a guy I work for now and a guy I used to work for, Jeremy Whitley of Action Lab Comics and Brett Warnock of Top Shelf respectively. (P.S. THAT is the dress Chris Ware said he liked. Thank you, Etsy)

Boston’s Ming Doyle and New York’s TJ Kirsch pose for a moment (both artists have worked with writer Kevin Church AND both have nice hair). Given how busy the booths were and being on a panel, I regrettably only made it down about 2.5 aisles.

SPX is oddly located between New York and nothing. There are some local artists but the organizers, volunteers and attendees are truly excited to see the new books. All of these people met on the internet and are now all friends!

Speaking from a slightly biased point of view, the Center for Cartoon Studies is always kickin’ out new comics and cartoonists like the damn place breeds them. Manning down the CCS table is a fun privilege and it is interesting to see the students and alum radiate out around it with more tables and better books each year at SPX. Second year student Sasha Steinberg and I stop gabbin’ for a sec.

WHAT was I just saying?! CCS people are all over this con. Lucy Knisley tried to sneak around SPX and quietly buy comics but friends and fans kept finding her. Lucy’s book, Relish, is coming out from First Second soon and my mouth is watering.

The Ignatz Awards were great and not too long (even better). Corinne Mucha won an award for her The Monkey in the Basement and Other Stories put out by Box Brown’s Retrofit comics. Corinne’s been a favorite of mine since she designed that Microcosm catalog cover (remember the pinkish one with the yardsale?) but forgot to put her name on it. If you haven’t seen her newest mini, “It Doesn’t Exist” then holy crumb, COMMAND + T on this link now.

Award presenter Christopher “Dr. McNinja” Hastings and Kel “Sorcery 101” McDonald drink after the Ignatz awards. Someone else mentioned this online but I truly felt a rift between the ‘comics’ and ‘webcomics’ creators which is a shame. Or more just saw people clumping together in the most familiar groups. Here’s to next year and introducing yourself to FIVE people you don’t know.

It’s routinely said that SPX is like a family reunion because we’re all stuck in the hotel together and I suppose as each successive generation reaches (or nearly) drinking age, then maybe it is exactly like a family reunion. Luckily, there aren’t any pervy uncles here, to my knowledge. Was it me or did the drink tickets start rolling out WAAAY late this year? I’m happy they exist and we get free drinks but man, you feel like you have to break a wine glass for drama’s sake with prices that high. Anyway, cartoonist Nathan Schreiber left his artist residency in Angouleme, France to join the fun!

Sunday started with a BANG! and the beautiful Whole Foods’ buffet with Boston’s Jesse Lonergan. It’s a new store so it wasn’t overrun with people, Brian Ralph and John Porcellino found it too. Next year, leave the Marriott and walk towards McDonald’s across from the Metro station but cut through their parking lot/drive-thru section and walk two blocks. Jesse and I will already be there but we promise to leave you some bacon and breakfast burritos.

Did I mention Corinne Mucha’s It Doesn’t Exist? This was her near-matching shirt. GO BUY IT. Antiquated inventions find a home with extinct animals, what else do you need to know?!

Speaking of awards, this table was lousy with them. The gent in the middle is Dakota McFadzean, a winner the Gene Day Award for Small Publishers of the Joe Shuster awards this year AND he has a comic in the Best American Comics 2012 edited by Francoise Mouly. Pat Barrett and Beth Hetland expertly flank Dakota. You know, it’s Sunday because you can see coffeecoffeecoffee in hand.

Finally, a cartoonist who draws himself as cute as he actually is, David Yoder! Interestingly, a graduate of both SCAD and CCS.

Around mid-day on Sunday, people were selling out of comics. A horrible fate and one that could/should/let’s hope happens again. John Green, artist of TEENBOAT! from Clarion happily sat and offered to sell pages from this YA favorite.

An example of sold out tables: look to the left of Jennifer Hayden (cartoonist of UNDERWIRE by Top Shelf). Just empty! And a #PROTIP: if you give/trade/sell your comic to someone you admire, always always take a picture.

The Nerdlingers appeared mysteriously on tables this year. I hear they are looking for a new cartoonist to emcee the event at Atomic Books so you should email them! Jen Tong won one for her screenprinted comics with “17+ Passes”. How gorgeous are they?! Beth Hetland won one as well, as a comics instruction at the School for the Art Institute of Chicago I’m sure her bosses are impressed.

SPX darling, Noah Van Sciver drew the label for the Nerdlinger award this year. CAPITAL!

And finally, I stopped by Action Lab to talk to writer Jeremy Whitley and get my photo taken next to Adrienne and Sparky of the Princeless comic.

Monday morning and THESE two guys are the most photogenic? Remember to hydrate next year! Noah Van Sciver and Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter hang tough.

These are the goods I managed to pick up, a meager amount but some great comics!

The trip home went well aside from all the creeps on the plane. See you next year!

Jen Vaughn is a cartoonist and marketing coordinator at Fantagraphics. She enjoys drawing and eating nachos though the two are hard to do at the same time. It isn’t a comics show until you’ve Instagramed something. Much love to Caitlin McGurk, librarian at OSU’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. We kept each other sane at the Schulz Library in Vermont.


INTERVIEW: Matt Smith On Ten Years With 2000AD

Since 2002, Matt Smith has been the editor for 2000AD, the mostly-crazed British sci-fi anthology magazine which first appeared on shelves over 35 years ago. Since coming in as editor, he’s watched writers and artists like Frazer Irving, Si Spurrier, Jock, Henry Flint, Rob Williams and Leigh Gallagher take the book and continue to push their boundaries, making it one of the most inventive, manic titles on the shelves. Home to characters like Zombo, Judge Dredd, Ichabod Azrael and Harry Kipling, the book is distinctly British and bizarre — which means I’m fascinated by it.

How do you manage a title like 2000AD and bring it out every week, with four or five stories continuing at any one point? That’s a lot of people and characters to juggle at any one point in time, especially with the market being in flux right now. Desperate for knowledge, I contacted Matt and he agreed to answer some of my questions – despite being ill at the time. The British Spirit is Unstoppable!

[Read more…]

Marvel Advertise All-New X-Men via Script Excerpts

By Steve Morris

Having already exhausted teasers, interviews, black and white images, coloured images, unlettered previews and just about every other form of pre-release promotion you’d care to imagine, Marvel have now taken to advertising All New X-Men #1 by releasing sections of Brian Michael Bendis’ scripts to various sites. If you went down to Comic Book Resources, Newsarama, iFanboy, or Comics Alliance this past week, you’ll have seen these. One snippet of script at a time, Marvel have been showing off preview art pages coupled with the script which goes with them.

It’s an intriguing way to advertise the comic, because it offers us a chance to see one of only two things fans have no access to: the scripts, and the summits. And while it’s unlikely we’ll ever be allowed to watch via webcam as Axel Alonso tries to handle a roomful of hyper-caffeinated writers, seeing the script does seem like a step towards Marvel simply handing us the text and telling us to imagine what’s going on. This is the reduction of interpretation, in a sense, as Marvel come closer to simply telling readers what is happening in each page. No longer do readers pick up a comic blindly — now we’ve been given solicitations, previews, advance interviews and even been given vague ideas as to what will happen in the next three issues as well. And now we’re getting the script, too. Interesting, isn’t it?

The script sections from ANXM #1 tend to be focused around two sequences, from what’s been made available so far. The first sees several of the older X-Men bickering amongst themselves, and trying to understand what’s happened to Cyclops. The second seems to show the slow unravelling of another Grant Morrison storyline, as Beast appears to be regressing back to his ape form. Possibly.

Stuart Immonen’s artwork is, as ever, absolutely lovely.

We’ve now seen somewhere around the region of 13 pages released from this comic, in some form, with the total count expected to be 20. Does that make you more likely to pick up the issue, or less? I’d be interested to know what people thing about this all-access approach Marvel are trying. The sales will be massive no matter what happens, but do you want to see so much of a comic before it comes out?

In One Week: The Morley Literature Festival

By Steve Morris

Currently under way despite Nevada’s attempt to suck the entirety of comics inside Las Vegas, The Morley Literature Festival is yet another sign that when it comes to comics, Leeds is the place to be.

Now in their seventh year, this year the festival sees British faces like Stuart Maconie (first time he’s ever been brought up on the Beat, Heidi?), Stephen Waterhouse, Al Kennedy and Peter Hook (yes, my old bandmate from New Order) attending for a range of panels and discussions in Morley, West Yorkshire. You can find more details about the festival as a whole on their website.

But this year the festival will also be spotlighting comics and the superhero, as next Saturday will see the ‘Science and Superheroes’ section of the event. In attendance will be David Hine, Adam Christopher, Samit Basu and Justina Robson, who’ll all be talking about the role of science fiction in the growth of the superhero as a concept and as a medium. Curated by Mark E. Johnson, the event will take place next weekend, in, well, Morley! See you there, perhaps?

Stan Lee gets a pacemaker, recovering

Turns out those concerns over Stan Lee’s recent show cancellations weren’t entirely unfounded—The Man announced he just received a pacemaker:

“Attention, Troops!

This is a dispatch sent from your beloved Generalissimo, directly from the center of Hollywood’s combat zone!

Now hear this! Your leader hath not deserted thee! In an effort to be more like my fellow Avenger, Tony Stark, I have had an electronic pace-maker placed near my heart to insure that I’ll be able to lead thee for another 90 years.

But fear thee not, my valiant warriors. I am in constant touch with our commanders in the field and victory shall soon be ours. Now I must end this dispatch and join my troops, for an army without a leader is like a day without a cameo!”

Lee will be 90 in a few months, and as we all know, keeps up an insanely busy schedule for anyone, let alone a man his age. With his new, electronic heart, he’ll probably keep chugging along for another 30 years. Best wishes to a speedy recovery for Stan.

MORRISON CON War Journal: Day 1

It’s day one of Morrison Con and I’m already having a blast. While I was in line to register I started chatting with my fellow con-rads, some of which are traveling from France, Australia and Spain. We were talking about how Grant changed our lives and how many times we are going to tell him how much we love his work, in walks Akria The Don and Jason Aaron. You can hear everyone in the room take a deep breath. It was one of those you had to be there kind of moments, but I feel like I’m going to have a lot of those this weekend.

The swag bag contains a hard cover program that features the guests and has blank pages for sketches. Also includes an exclusive MC HAPPY! variant cover by Darick Roberson, a cute tote bag and a poster of the program cover.


Follow me on twitter (@henrybarajas) and Instagram for live coverage. Now I’m going to Hofbrauhous (uninvited) because I hear the 11 O’clock Comics podcast crew is having a pre-con shindig.

Friday Afternoon Kitten Blogging

Oh you knew it was going to happen.


Gotta rebuild traffic somehow.

Lucy and Charlie contemplate life in the bathtub. Not named after Peanuts, but we realized it after the fact.

Announcement: 31 days of Halloween is beginning next week!

It’s the spooky, chilling time of year, when pumpkin muffins are consumed and woolen scarves are brought from the closet.

As in years past we’ll be spotlighting Halloween art EVERY DAY! We need your submissions! Email us at comicsbeat at gmail dot com.

Also, is it just us or has Halloween merchandise been toned down a lot this year? In recent times, Duane Reade would be sporting racks of green lipstick and Witchie wigs from the end of August on. Now just a few aisles have barely sprung up. Maybe bad sales in the bad economy?

Whatever the case, there will be no stinting on Halloween at Stately Beat Manor!

Above — the incredible Halloween installations of Gary Leib at Brooklyn’s Desert Island.

Webcomic Alert: The Expositor by Van Sciver and Remnant

Okay. This is exciting.

A new webcomic site called The Expositor presents the new work of Noah Van Sciver and Joseph Remnant. These two young cartoonists who had breakout years, van Sciver with THE HYPO, his GN about Abraham Lincoln that tells a part of the president’s life few PROSE histories have ever covered; Remnant with CLEVELAND, a posthumous Harvey Pekar book that gained critical acclaim.

And now they are doing webcomics!


Van Sciver weighs in with “Saint Cole,” thus far the story of a frustrated 28-year-old pizza parlor waiter with a jobless girlfriend, an unexpected baby—and now a nine-fingered mother-in-law staying with them.


Remnant’s “Cartoon Clouds” heads straight to art school for a story about artistic exploration, pretension and drinking beer.

Both comics are extremely well crafted, densely realized six-panel grids full of detail and daily struggle. Both will be collected for print eventually but in the meantime….GOOD COMICS FOR THE WEEKEND!

Bryan Talbot’s Grandville III: The trailer

It’s always hard to know what graphic novelist Bryan Talbot is going to be up to — will it be a crazy imaginative story of English history and dimensional travel like Luther Arkwright? Or a sensitive, heart-rending story about child abuse like Tale of One Bad Rat? Or something else entirely? One genre Talbot has been working in extensively over the last few years is anthropomorphic steampunk mystery with his Grandville stories. The latest volume is coming out this December from Dark Horse and Jonathan Cape—and here’s a trailer for it.

The Sailor Twain Tour dates announced

First Second editorial director and cartoonist Mark Siegal, will be on tour for SAILOR TWAIN, this fall. Dates are above and in the link.

If you haven’t seen SAILOR TWAIN, the rich story of a 1887 Hudson River barge captain who finds a mermaid, and what unfolds from that, you are missing an imaginative comics yarn that joins other comics about waterborne voyages, like FAR ARDDEN and SET TO SAIL. Heck, it’s a whole new comics genre.

Studio Coffee Run 9/28/12: Looper, The Walking Dead, Thor: The Dark World, etc.

Looper is already killing it with the critics, Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore reach an undisclosed settlement concerning Moore’s involvement with The Walking Dead, pic-o-mania for Kickass 2, Thor: The Dark World, and The Wolverine plus much more after the jump… [Read more…]

Manga-Camera App: Turning 2D dreams into Smartphone reality

Comicsalliance just unveiled what could possibly be the best App EVER (or maybe just for you die hard otakus). With the commonality of Instagram’s “vintage” effects already upon the masses, this new (and FREE) Manga-Camera App lets you turn any old picture on your phone into that black-and-white /moire-filled manga styling that is beyond cool. There is an array of background choices, some of which can even include sound effects in Japanese (OAHHHS and GUGUUUs galore).

There still are some kinks to be worked out to make this manga-experience more complete, but for now, it’ll suffice for making our lives a little more in touch with our inner manga dreams.

I particularly enjoyed this pug/mecha rendition that Comicsalliance tested out.


Try it out for yourself here!