It’s been a busy couple of weeks. My part-time day job has ramped up to full-time, and we trained a new temp guy for most of the week. I’m on deadline for a BACK ISSUE article. I managed to schedule and prep a phone interview for that article, conducting the interview on Saturday. And my last column for AJS unexpectedly expanded into a 3000-word two-parter.
As you might expect, all of this tired me out a bit. So I thought I’d take it easy on myself, find a cool comic book questionnaire online & fill that out. Hopefully my answers will be entertaining and/or illuminating.
1) Did you read comics as a kid?
2) Who bought you your first comic?
My very first comic was Batman #303, a hand me down from my friend Geordy. I wrote about it here for my first column on the AJS.
3) Did you take any time away from comics? Why?
I thought about giving them up in 1990 when I turned 18 and entered college, but when a comics shop opened up across the street from campus the week after I started school… Well, that pretty much decided that. Before long my roommate and I were both working there for store credit.
4) What brought you back into comics?
It seems like every time I consider giving up comics, something really good comes along that re-ignites my interest in the medium.
In 1990, it was the Dave Gibbons / Steve Rude World’s Finest series.
In 1996, it was Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come.
In 2004, it was Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier.
5) Do you prefer getting comics monthly or in trades?
I still try to buy monthly issues when I can, but since I no longer go to the store every week, it’s tough. I get behind on my reading, and I can easily forget if I’ve bought an issue already. And when you factor in things like variant covers, it’s really easy for me to accidentally buy two copies of the same issue. Or sometimes I miss an issue altogether. It’s really frustrating to not be able to read #3-6 of a mini-series because you haven’t gotten your hands on #2 yet.
So with a few exceptions, I think I’m going to finally just switch to trades. It’s a lot easier.
6) Do you know the name of your Local Comic Shop (LCS)?
One of the blessings of living in northern New Jersey is that there are several cool comic shops in my area. The main shop I go to these days is Dewey’s Comic City in Madison, NJ. It’s a small shop, but they have a really nice variety of material there.
For back issues, I really like going to Zapp! Comics in Wayne. I can usually find some reasonably-priced things in great condition there.
7) Does your LCS know your name?
At Dewey’s they do. At Zapp! I think I probably have “Hey, it’s that guy” status, where they vaguely recognize me when I walk in. Wayne is farther away from me, so I don’t make it there as often.
8) Do you own any old number 1 comics (must date before 1980)?
Oh… Let’s see. I own both New Teen Titans and All-Star Squadron #1. Those were both published in 1980.
I have Giant-Size Invaders #1 and What If? #1. And from Kirby’s early 70s sojourn to DC, I have Mister Miracle #1, Forever People #1, and Kamandi #1. Oh, and Sandman #1. That was by Simon and Kirby.
I have yet to find a New Gods #1 for a decent price, but I have the DC Omnibus Editions from a few years back, so I’m good for now.
Umm… What else? Eternals #1, from when Kirby returned to Marvel. There are probably others I’m forgetting, but that gives you the idea.
9) Do you own any original comic art?
Yes! I think the very first page I ever bought was from the 1997 Nexus mini-series God Con. It’s a page where Jesus and Buddha are in a dunking booth and they both get dumped into the water. Jesus pushes Buddha underwater and jokingly baptises him Richard Milhous Nixon. They then exchange a high-five.
I’ve got a couple of Doug Wildey pages, too. One from his story in Blackhawk #268 and another from an early 80s Sgt. Rock Special:
I have a couple of other original pages, but none of them can be easily photographed at the moment. I haven’t been able to afford original art for quite a while, so I really treasure these. In the meantime, I’ll just have to settle for whatever IDW Artist Editions I can afford.
10) Do you bag and board your comics?
No, not typically. If I buy a back issue that’s already in a board & bag, I’ll keep it in that. But I don’t bag and board new comics. They’re printed on decent paper these days, so they’re not as fragile as old newsprint comics. I’d rather spend that money on more comics, anyways.
11) Where do you store your comics?
About half are in Drawer Boxes in the spare bedroom, and the other half are in short boxes on a shelf in my living room. I’d like to get the entire collection stored in Drawer Boxes, but reorganizing all 8000 comics and assembling enough Drawer Boxes to store them all is a pretty massive project. Trades and hardcover collections I keep on bookshelves.
I also have several stacks of comics on my living room coffee table and by my computer. I often pull a particular run out when I’m working on a Crisis on Earth-T column or a BACK ISSUE article and I’m bad about putting them back.
12) How many comics do you read right now, in either floppy or trade format?
The tough thing with most Marvel and DC characters these days is that they’re spread out over multiple intertwined books, so keeping up with certain characters is an all-or-nothing proposition. I love Batman and Spider-Man, but picking up four or five books every month just to follow one character is a serious financial commitment.
The books I follow these days are ones where I only have to buy ONE title to get the full picture — Kurt Busiek’s Astro City, Evanier & Aragonés’ Groo, Walter Simonson’s Ragnarok, or the Waid & Samnee runs on Daredevil and Black Widow. I wish DC and Marvel had more self-contained books like that. I think they’d snag more casual readers.
13) What would be your number one, all-time desert island, favourite comic series?
Hmmm… There are a few personal favorites I’d love to take with me, like Starman. But if I’m going to a desert island, it would probably make the most sense for me to take the longest-running series I could, with as wide a variety as I could, and the highest quality-to-quantity ratio. So I think I’ll choose a complete run of Batman. That’ll keep me busy until my eventual rescue.
14) Do you follow comic creators on Twitter?
A few. I’d say that Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek, and Tom Brevoort are the ones I interact with the most on there. They all have interesting things to say.
15) Do you have a favourite comic creator?
Oh, Lord… just ONE? Just read my column for a few weeks or look at the stuff I’ve posted here. That’ll give you a pretty good idea of my tastes.
16) Do you harbour any aspirations to create your own comics?
Honestly? Not as much as I used to. Drawing comics was all I dreamed of doing until my early 30s, but for one reason or another, it hasn’t happened for me. But I really enjoy writing about them for BACK ISSUE and the Atomic Junk Shop, and moderating the occasional panel at a con. It’s a lot of fun interviewing creators and discovering more about comics history. So I’m indulging my passion for them that way right now. Maybe I’ll come back around to creating my own someday, but I’m okay with where I am right now.
17) Do you access comic news online? If so, where?
I used to really love the old CSBG, which is how I got to know Greg Hatcher, which eventually led to this gig. I don’t visit CBR much since the new ownership and site revamp, but I still follow Brian Cronin’s work in general, because he’s a friend, and I’m a fan.
I also quite liked Comics Alliance, particularly Chris Sims’ stuff, but it was just announced that that site’s going away, which is too bad. I’ll miss them.
Now? Not too much else. Newsarama was all right, but I barely visit it any more. Most other sites are either too snarky & negative or have way too many unconfirmed rumors. AJS is more of a “Here’s the cool stuff we’re into now” site than a “Here’s the latest comics news” site, for which I’m grateful. Most other comics news I pick up via Twitter or my Facebook news feed. That keeps me pretty up to date.
Time to pick sides…
Marvel or DC? I love a lot of Marvel stuff, but I was a DC kid, and those loyalties die hard. So yeah, I’m a DC guy at heart.
And even though Superman The Movie is my all-time favorite film, you can’t deny that Marvel has been killing it in the movie department for the last few years. So when it comes to movies… Make Mine Marvel.
Superman or Batman? I love Superman, but I have to go with Batman here. He’s cooler and a more versatile character.
Spider-Man or Wolverine? No question — Spider-Man. the original Lee/Ditko run is still my favorite, but I also love the Spidey stories by folks like Gerry Conway, Gil Kane, John Romita Sr., Ross Andru, Roger Stern, John Romita Jr., Tom DeFalco, and Ron Frenz. I fell off a bit after Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary Jane.
I like Wolverine, but I think he’s generally more interesting in a group setting than as a lead character. The guy we had at the end of the Claremont/Byrne/Austin X-Men run was wonderfully compelling and intriguing. He was cool and unpredictable, but he had a definite code that he lived by.
He was temperamental and a scrapper, but he wasn’t unbeatable.
He had a mysterious past that was only revealed in dribs and drabs. And not because he had any memory problems, either. He just didn’t like sharing with others.
I miss that Wolverine.
Iron Fist or Luke Cage? No strong preference here, as I was never a Power Man & Iron Fist reader. I guess I’ll go with Iron Fist. I like his costume better.
Comic Book Nick Fury or Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury? Jackson is fine, but the original comic book guy is my Nick Fury. The one who was in the Howling Commandos. The cigar-smoking, unshaven, blue collar guy navigating the ultra modern, super spy world. That was the contrast that made that whole series work. Without that element, it’s just generic spy stuff.
I couldn’t get into the guy from The Ultimates for the same reason I couldn’t get into that book as a whole — everyone in that series was an asshole. There was no one to root for. But I like Samuel L. Jackson as an actor, so it’s fun seeing him in the Marvel movies (I wish he’d start running S.H.I.E.L.D. again, though).
Superhero or real life stories? I like ’em both. But I think if you’re looking for realism, superhero stories are pretty foolish place to expect it.
Golden Age, Silver Age or Modern Age? I’m a Bronze Age guy, so that’s always going to be my default.
Digital or paper? Paper. I have a Marvel Unlimited subscription for research purposes and I can read digital comics if I have to, but I’ll always prefer the tactile experience of holding a book in my hands. Maybe I’d get into digital comics more if I owned a tablet, but I don’t, so I’m not.
Gotham or New York? There’s something to them both. With Marvel, it’s really fun that most of the major heroes are in the NYC area and can bump into each other at any time. But a well-developed fictional city like Gotham City or Opal City can be a lot of fun, too. Both of them have an individual look and feel, and even their own historical events.
Specific detail like that really helps you immerse yourself into a story. I could do without the vaguely-defined generic fictional cities like Midway City or Gateway City, though. I don’t think those add much of anything.
Hero or villain? Creating a good villain is probably tougher, but I tend to gravitate more towards heroes. Villains are a spice, not the main dish.
Cape or no cape? Depends on the character. Capes work for folks like Superman, Batman, Thor, or Dr. Strange. They don’t work for characters like Spider-Man or Daredevil.
Cowl or domino mask? Again, depends on the character. Batman wouldn’t work as well in a domino mask, and the Spirit wouldn’t work as well in a cowl. Aesthetically, I suppose I prefer cowls. I will say that I’m sick of cinematic superheroes pulling off their masks willy nilly, though.
That’s all for this week, folks! Thanks for reading & see you next Monday!