Just Newsprint
Issue #14

Table of Contents
01 Introduction
One Man, one sword, one kid?
Classic Commercials
And Now For Something
Top Ten List
Comic Soundtracks
Rereading Marvels
Lucking Out!
Another Avenue
Why No Adult Comics?

Summer is here and so is the dog days. Unfortunately my computer office is not air conditioned, so I don't spend as much time up there as I would like. Thus, my lame excuse for the newsletter being late. Something new this issue! One thing I have been getting allot of lately is books sent to me for review. So I decided that I will try to review one each month. I know this is a newsletter about older comics, but hey its my newsletter and I can cry if I want to. Wait, that's a song by Leslie Gore or Petulia Clark or one of those old singers. Anyways, look for a new comic review as long as they come in and maybe I will add a few other new features. Who knows what to expect?

I just rented the Steel movie (it was only fifty cents, so give me a break) and boy was I disappointed with it. Not because it was as bad as everyone said it was, but rather because it wasn't as bad as everyone said it was. From the way people talked, I was expecting to see Ed Wood's name somewhere on there or at least Roger Corman. But no, it couldn't be a candidate for late night television to be made fun of by MST3000 (that is short for Mystery Science Theatre 3000, why I put initials if I was going to type it all anyway is beyond me), if they weren't coming to an end. But it turned out to be merely mediocre, maybe a little below that and that won't feed the bulldog.

I know that anyone who paid full price to see it (and judging from ticket sales, that is a very small number), may argue that it was indeed a terrible movie, but I cannot agree. First and foremost is that they spent money on this movie. The special effects were very good, not great, but very good. It had some actors and actresses that you even heard of. Besides Shaq, you have Judd Nelson of Breakfast Club and Suddenly Susan fame (what a resume, Suddenly Susan and this movie) as the resident bad guy. You also had Richard Roundtree in the movie, so that is more stars than all three of the latest Marvel movies (Punisher, Captain America and Fantastic Four) who combined have one star (and I use this term loosely), Dolph Lungren.

The overall story is pretty decent and the acting, while not very good, is better than some movies I have seen. Of course Shaq gives his usual performance and we all know how good that is. If you can find nothing else good about this movie, keep in mind that it is the film that finally put an end to Shaq's movie career and that is a good thing. If you have a video store that rents movies cheap, I do recommend picking this up and giving it a try. While it is not that good for a DC based movie, it would be darn good for a Marvel based movie.

One Man, one sword, one kid?

One of the most influential and important comics in the modern era wasn't done by an American company. It didn't feature superheroes and it wasn't done by Marvel or DC. It starred a lone swordsman and his child as they traveled over feudal Japan in search of work. The book is Lone Wolf & Cub and is one of the best series to grace comics!

You may be asking yourself what is so influential and important about this comic? Well for starters, it influenced Frank Miller and other American artists, who in turn influenced more artists. Look at Frank Miller's Ronin and you will see a homage to this great book (Frank even did the forewords in the Lone Wolf series). In turn, Frank Miller's Ronin went on to influence the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who went on to influence many others. Get the idea?

But that wasn't the only way it influenced comics. It was also the beginning of a grand experiment. Along with Mai the Psychic girl, it was the first of the Japanese comics to be imported over to America. Once they proved how popular these books can be, the floodgates opened and we have seen hundreds of manga (as they are called) being translated and imported over here. This helped to broaden the horizons of comics available in the states and brought new audiences into the comic stores.

But enough about the significance of the comic, let us talk about the book itself. Lone Wolf and Cub is probably the best way to learn history. While this may sound boring to you, each issue is like a little history lesson in feudal Japan. You learn about different customs, occupations and ways of life. I find this the most intriguing part of the book. It isn't just a man who kills for a living, but someone who tries to right wrongs and touches many lives in the process. Some in a positive way and some in a negative way. As you read the books, you will learn things you never knew and will be enjoying yourself.

The basic story is about the Lone Wolf, who now is a ronin, meaning a samurai without a master. He now travels across the country in search of someone who needs a hired sword. Along with him comes his son, a young child with a very peculiar hairstyle. The boy is very quiet and has seen more in his short lifetime than most people ever do. The boy sits in a cart and is carried around, the reason behind the nickname, the Baby Cart Killer.

While there is an exceptional amount of killing in the books, it isn't the same nonsense you come to expect from the usual high body count books. The Lone Wolf does not enjoy killing and while he is the best at it, he would rather be something else. But it is all he knows and he has a child to attend to, so he carries on.

If you are in the mood for something different, something both action packed and yet also full of story, then this is a good series for you. Don't be turned off by the black and white artwork, it is a great series and one that will continue to influence people for years to come.

(Click on picture to go to a bigger version)
Classic Commercial

This month we look at the ever famous Ant Farms. You know that pet that would make your mother's skin crawl. It is amazing that people pay good money for a pest to bring in their house that other people are paying good money to get out of their house. That was some great marketing.

The funny thing about these ants is that by law they do not come with a queen ant. This means that in time, your colony is doomed. Like the Roanoke colony, your little anties will all be history. But for awhile you can watch them dig their little burrows and have all kinds of creepy, crawly fun.

I wonder why they didn't do more of these bug farms? Imagine the termite farm where they eat up the barn and everything in there. Or the cricket farm, where they keep you up every night with their infernal chirping. Then you have the cockroach farm where you just toss in your trash for them to eat. That one would really make mom's skin crawl! Guess these others just weren't quite as exciting as an Ant Farm!

And Now For Something Completely Different!

Imagine if you took a copy of Mad Magazine and tossed it in a blender. Then you added a copy of National Lampoon. For good measure, toss in a helping of political cartoons and a splash of Doonsebury and set it for puree. After a few minutes of blending, you pour out your creation and you would end up with Harpoon!

Harpoon is a political satire magazine that is very reminiscent of Mad Magazine. The artwork and some of the setup is quite similar, yet the content is anything but Mad. While both magazines poke fun, Harpoon has a more adult slant and a more biting wit.

I was sent a promotional copy and was impressed by it! What I really enjoyed were the commercials. At first glance, they look to be real commercials, but once you read them, you find they are spoofs. And some very funny spoofs too!

While political humor is their main agenda, they do take stabs at others. They were doing a very funny piece on Bill Gates and Microsoft that had me laughing out loud (something that doesn't happen often). It is some funny stuff.

So if you enjoy political humor and like something a little more edgy, you may want to check out Harpoon. Remember that man cannot live on Superheroes alone!
(For more information, check out the Harpoon website at http://www.harpoonmag.com).

Top Ten List
This month we feature another of the unique top ten lists. Why do the boring ones when it is more fun to do some bizarre ones. So here we go with the Top Ten Least Likely Marvel Characters to Join the Avengers.

10. Odin-Methinks he be a bit too busy to be hanging out with the Avengers, plus his son has more seniority in the group and Odin would hate to be the second fiddle to Thor.

09. Howard the Duck-Besides having no powers and a foul temper, he probably wouldn't want to be a member. Howard has always been a loner (except for Beverly.

08. Rom the Spaceknight-Sure he was on the cover of an Avengers as a possible member, but we all know he is too busy hunting wraiths to bother with the Avengers.

07. Power Pack-Besides having their own super team, they are probably too young to join. While I don't remember this ever being mentioned, I am sure there is a rule against minors joining the Avengers.

06. Godzilla-Sure the Avengers took in the Hulk, who was practically uncontrollable, but Godzilla is a whole different matter. He wouldn't be able to attend any meetings or fly in their vehicles, so it probably wouldn't be a good idea. I know he isn't really a Marvel character (even if he had a Marvel comic), so if you are going to be a stickler just put Devil Dinosaur in his place.

05. Forbush Man-Sure he probably thinks he is important enough to join, but the goofy little man with the bucket on his head, just isn't Avengers material.

04. Man-Thing-He doesn't talk, if you fear him he will roast you like a weenie and he would track mud all through the mansion, any other questions?

03. Kazaar and Zabu-You can take the man out of the jungle, but you cannot take the jungle out of the man. He would be miserable as would Zabu, if he wasn't cut up for scientific research.

02. Conan-He is a barbarian, not a super hero, he lives in a different era and would be too busy trying to seduce the Wasp to do any good. But put him in armor like Iron Man's and you would have....well....X-O Manowar. Oh well, scrap that idea.

01. US!/Team America/Steeltown Rockers-Take your pick of any of these. The main reason you will never see these characters join the Avengers is that Marvel doesn't want to admit to doing these atrocities. To say these books were terrible, would be a compliment.

Comic Soundtracks
You may be scratching your head and wondering what I am talking about here. I am not talking about the soundtracks to comic based movies or those book and records you used to have as a kid. What I am talking about is coming up with songs that would best accompany a comic book you are reading.

This idea first came to me while I was working on a comic book idea. I thought that it would be cool to put a suggested play list in the book of songs that would add to the game. This way people could play the songs and add some atmosphere to the game. The book never came out and so the idea died with it (though I wouldn't be surprised to find out that someone has already done the idea).

Since no one is probably going to give you a soundtrack with your comic, it is up to you to make your own. Grab an issue of a comic and start thinking of music that would improve the experience. Whether it be classical or rock or jazz or whatever, think of songs you know and possibly like that would fit a comic. When you do, send me some of your suggestions and I will put them up here in the newsletter.

Rereading Marvels
One of the things I do when I purchase comics for resale is to read them. I will often read an issue or two while I am working on the web page. The most recent series I have read is Marvels. While I have read it before, it has been a long time. So I decided that a rereading was in order.

The first thing I realized as I finished the first issue is how much I didn't remember. Either I wasn't paying that close attention the first time or I am getting senile very early. While the same sense of awe overcame me as I watched the story unfold, little bits and pieces popped out at me. Things people said or characters in the background. It was like enjoying it for the first time, all over again!

I still remember my favorite part of the series, the whole worm's eye view of the heroes. We rarely get to see these heroic battles from the view of the common man. While you cannot see the action as up close as usual, you really get a feeling for how powerful and overwhelming these beings are and how insignificant these people must feel. It is an experience that was not captured in comics before and one that rarely is now.

As much as really enjoyed Kingdom Come, I still remember that first reading of Marvels and how much it changed my perception of comics. Funny how something as simple as a different point of view can alter things so greatly. If you own the series, go back and read it. See if that magic is still there. If you don't own the series, you owe it to yourself to pick it up and read it. It really is a treat for any comic fan and an experience you will not soon forget (unless you are going senile like myself).

Lucking Out
I remember being at a comic book show. Since my father was a comic book dealer, I went to allot of comic shows. At one show, my cousin and myself lucked on a table that had a bunch of comics not priced. I asked the lady how much these Cerebus comics were and she took a look at them and said "$1.00 each", which was the cover price. So we grabbed all the copies we could afford. We bought two copies of issues #4-8.

After we purchased them, we rushed over to another dealer who paid us $5.00 a piece for them. With the big handful of cash we just made ($50.00 on a $10.00 investment) , we headed back to buy some more. But instead of the woman being there, there was her husband and he was not too happy about our great deal and the price of the other issues were much higher.

So we lucked on a good deal. It was a good deal because someone didn't take the time to mark his comics and educate his wife to what the prices were. So for that one show, we had a bunch of money to spend on the comics we wanted. In hindsight, we could have made more money by hanging onto the comics, but we wanted to get some books we enjoyed (I was collecting Felix the Cat books at the time), so this allowed us to bring home a very large stack of comics! It was a great show!

Another Avenue for Affordable Comics
When you ask people where to find affordable comics, they will usually say to go to comic shows or check the bargain bins at comic stores. Some with point out the internet, but there is another avenue you can go, the flea markets! I have found quite a few good deals at the flea markets and so can you! But like anything else, it takes time and a good plan. So I am here to give you a few pointers to make your trip an enjoyable and hopefully rewarding one!

1. Get There Early-I cannot stress this enough with flea markets. My motto is if you are not there by 7:00 AM, it isn't worth going. Actually with comics you can get there a little later, since they are not the hot item they were a few years ago. But if you want any chance of finding any silver age books or earlier (I have found some, don't laugh), then you better be there with the crack of dawn.

2. Always Ask For a Better Deal-Unless you find an Action #1 for a quarter, you should try to haggle. The worst thing they do is say no and you pay the full price. But you can save money. Best if you are buying multiples and get them to throw a book in. If I see books for a quarter each, I will usually ask if they will go 5 for a $1.00. If you do an odd one, like 11 for $2.00, you can really confuse them and probably get it. A popular thing to do is the double discount (as my father calls it). What you do is ask their best price and then try to go down a bit from that. Example: If you have $10.00 worth of comics, you ask them what is their best price. If they say $8.00, you ask if they will take $7.00. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But these small discounts add up over time.

3. Examine Condition-One problem with a flea market is there is no exchange. Once you give one of those people a dollar, you would have a better chance of getting a deadbeat relative to pay you back a loan. So make sure that book is complete and in the condition you want. Don't be afraid to ask to open a bag and check a book. If the vendor refuses to let you, it is probably best not to buy from them.

4. Know How To Spot Second Prints-If you are one who only wants first prints, then make sure you are well schooled on how to know them. Don't take a vendor's word on it as some of them are less than honest (not all of them as with any profession you have your good and your bad).

5. Walk Away-If you are not positive on a purchase and the vendor won't deal, just walk away. Sometimes they will yell a better price to you. Sometimes it pays to come back in a half hour and see if they are more willing to deal. I have gotten some great deals this way.

6. Show the Money-Money talks and at the flea markets, it speaks loudly. Sometimes it helps to take the money out and offer it to them. Say you found $25.00 worth of comics and you only want to pay $20.00, just take the money out and put it in their hand. It is proven that once someone has money in their hand, they are less likely to give it up. Honest!

7. Wear a Comic Related T-Shirt-If you have a Batman or Spiderman t-shirt on, someone may come up to you and offer you something. They may ask if you are a comic collector and offer to bring comics in the next week. It pays to advertise. I used to do this with classic video games by wearing a Donkey Kong t-shirt. Vendors usually have stuff in their vehicles that they don't have room for on the table and if they think you are interested, will bring it out.

Hope this helps you out the next time you are looking. Most of these tips can also be used at garage sales and even comic book shows. Keep your eyes peeled and happy hunting!

Why No Adult Comics?
Continuing in my series of Why questions, is one I get a few times a month. People ask if I have underground comics or Verotik or other adult books and I answer that I don't carry them. So for anyone who wants to know why, this section if for you!

While I believe that publishers have a right to print whatever they want, I also believe that I, the retailer have a responsibility to the community I serve, this one being the virtual community, to uphold certain standards. I promote my site as an all ages site and this includes the material I sell. For this reason I don't carry pornographic comics. I despise them and I refuse to support them. I don't feel that they have any place in the market and cause more harm than good.

Another reason I don't sell them is that since this is a virtual community, I cannot police it well enough. If a kid went and bought a money order or just sent cash, how would I know how old they are. I could limit purchases to only check or credit card, but even that isn't guaranteed. Plus, I have allot of very good customers who pay with money orders and cash and I wouldn't want to inconvenience them.

Lastly, I have small children and I wouldn't want them reading these books. While my comics are in a storage facility, they do occasionally come in contact with them and I don't want to explain to them why their dad is a smut peddler. I believe that if I wouldn't let my own children see it, then I shouldn't be selling it.

So that is the reasons I don't sell adult comics. So if you are looking for Cherry Poptart or whatever, you will have to look elsewhere. We don't now, nor will we ever sell these books. The risks involved, both legal and moral are too great for the profits. You cannot put a price on a good night's rest and a clear conscience.

The issue is very late, but it is done! I will try harder next issue to get it out on time, but I cannot make any guarantees. Ask Mother Nature to keep things a bit cooler and maybe I will make it. Until next issue, keep reading them comics and looking for those deals!

Tom Zjaba