Just Newsprint #20
The Simple Comic Newsletter

Table of Contents
01 Why Not?
02 Free Reads
03 Gimmicks and Comics
04 He is the Spaceknight
05 Top Ten List
06 Getting Those Heroes on Tape
07 Conclusion

Why Not?
On a trip to the local computer store, I noticed that they had a Mad Magazine Collection. It is pretty neat that you can get all of the issues in one collection (even if they reprint material like crazy). It made me think about how the comic book industry is missing the boat here. I look and see that not only does Mad Magazine have a CD Collection, but there were ones for National Geographic, Dragon Magazine and even Field and Stream. Field and Stream has a collection, yet the comic industry is missing out? WHY? Who are the decision makers that are missing out on this goldmine?

If you are a big comic fan (my guess is you wouldn't be reading this if you weren't), then I am sure that you would love to have access to those comics that are out of financial reach of the average Joe. Would you pay $40.00 for the first 50 issues of Superman or Action or even the Fantastic Four? We are talking some awesome stories here and only a few of them are reprinted.

I know there are those Marvel Masterpieces and whatever DC's version is called, but they are so limited. Because of the high cost of paper and printing, they only put out the ones that are popular. So yeah, you get some of the good stuff, but there are so many more stories that can be reprinted, but aren't. Is there any More Fun reprints or alot of the early Four Color stuff? We are talking a plethora of stuff that can be redone and the companies can make some good money off it. With the low cost of CDs or even DVDs, the cost is minimal. The only real cost is the time it takes to archive it and royalties. Besides that, you have a great way for Marvel, DC, Disney, Archie and the rest to make some money and introduce these stories to the masses.

Before you start with that lame argument about how comics were meant to be read in book form and not on a computer screen, I answer, then go mortgage your house and get the originals. But for the rest of us who would rather read it on a computer screen and not have to live on a steady diet of cat food because we are hocked to our ears in debt, the CD would do just fine. And don't even give me that poor excuse about how it will ruin the value of the originals. There will always be people who have more money than brains and are willing to spend serious cash for a comic book. The world is full of these people and more are being born as you read this. If that was true, then the bazillion reprints of Action #1 would have destroyed the value. But everytime one is up for sale, some sucker is willing to cough up more jack than the last person, so this isn't going to affect the value whatsoever. If anything, it will increase the value.

While I don't expect this to happen anytime soon, I can hope. Maybe if someone like Harvey or Archie blaze the trail, then the rest would follow. There is a good number of people out there that would go for this, if done right (and with the comic industry, that is a big if), that it has a chance to be a consistent source of income. And with the power of the internet, they could sell them online at their sites and open up to the whole world who want these books and put some much needed money in their coffers.

Free Reads
One of my weekly routines is going to the public library and checking out a ton of stuff. With a boatload of books, movies, music CDs, computer programs, magazines and more, there is always something to take out. Why pay to rent, when you can get them for free? Anyways, during one of my visits, I noticed they had a nice selection of comic book trade paperbacks there. Starman, Sandman, Star Wars, Strangers in Paradise, Astro City and more! I was in heaven! Before me was a good 20+ trade paperbacks of some of the best stuff in comics. And the price of admission was free! So I took advantage of a no lose situation and grabbed a stack.

While nothing replaces the feel of owning the books and not having to worry about late fines, this is a great way to try some new stuff. You can sample a wide selection of books and if you like them, read more. If you find the stuff less than appealing, then you have nothing but time invested. A win-win situation! So you may want to check out your local library and see what kind of selection they have. If they don't have any, maybe you should suggest it to them. They are usually more than willing to listen. For anyone who doesn't know about this great source of free reads, I thought I would pass it along! Oh yeah, they also had regular comic books too!

The granddaddy of gimmicks

Gimmicks and Comics

While not as prevalent as it was 5-7 years ago, the gimmicks still are part of the comic scene. While the gimmick covers are not used as much, you get limited edition versions, some with an autograph or numbered to entice you to pay more for the same story. But enough about today's gimmicks, let us look at some of those lame attempts (many times they were quite successful) at getting the average sucker....err, I mean the average comic fan to part with their hard earned money. Here are some of the most blatant. See how many you fell for?

#1-If One Cover is Good, Then 13 is Great!-Talk about a blatant scam if there ever was one! Gen 13 and their 13 different covers had to be proof of the greed in the industry. Sure, some people just picked out the cover they liked and bought that one, but I saw many people grabbing one of each. The sad thing is they are worth more money today. I know there are many other comics that did this shameless whoring (X-Men #1, DV8 #1, etc...), but 13 different ones was the extreme.

#2-Oooh, Pretty Holograms-Was there anything as pathetic looking than these crappy holograms that were slapped onto a book? Only thing worse was how some customers would be enthralled at them and caught like a deer in headlights. I still remember when they did one on each of the Spiderman books and they all looked like someone stuck some tinfoil on the cover and tried pushing it off as a hologram. They were terrible. And the reader had to pay double for the pleasure of looking at those eyesores.

#3-Bag it and They Will Buy!-Nothing I hated worse than bagged comics. Sure, some of them had stuff they didn't want to fall out. But did they have to seal the bag? Nothing says "Buy two copies fan boy" like a sealed bag. The worse thing is most of the bagged comics were so poorly written and drawn, that they should have been sealed, in a trash bag. They spent so much time on the gimmick, that they forgot there was a comic in there.

#4-Real/Sorta Real/Animated Cels-I still remember how some poor customers fell for Marvel's gimmick, hook, line and sinker. In their Spiderman books, they said there were going to be animated cels or sericels. The wording was quite confusing. Anyway, you ended up with the equivalent of a xerox copy of an animated cel. Guess that was worth the extra money.

#5-When All Else Fails, Kill a Character-The biggest scam of the comic industry was the Death of Superman. Only the boneheaded media and the lemmings who bought into it, believed he would stay dead. All us comic fans knew that death is a temporary setback in the world of comics. A hero would have a harder time getting rid of lice than they would coming back from the grave. But the saps bought into it like gangbusters. So what did DC do for an encore? They gave us four sorry excuses for Superman. The only person who was happy about that was Shaq as it gave him a Steel movie to add to his resume (or maybe he isn't so happy about that as it did end his career).

While there were alot more scams used in the industry, I just highlighted a few. Feel free to email me your favorite ones. I am sure we can all get a laugh out of them and hopefully the industry will learn that stories and art sell comics. Gimmicks are a one time thing and do not encourage repeat business. But I guess it is wishful thinking to assume they learned anything.


He is the Spaceknight!

He was here to save us from the Dire Wraiths. He was a kick butt action figure! He was the one and only Rom the Spaceknight! A perennial bargain bin dweller, the mighty Spaceknight deserves a little recognition. Quit laughing, this book was pretty good. Not great, but a good read,. especially at the bargain prices you can find them now.

One of the cool things about Rom is that they seeded the book with guests. The X-Men, Nick Fury, the Hulk, Alpha Flight, even Master of Kung Fu took turns hanging out with the man in the silver tin can suit. Marvel did everything they could to make the tin man a success. He even had some talent working on the book including Steve Ditko, John Byrne and Bill Sienkiewicz. Not bad for a book that was always a second tiered title.



One of the biggest misconceptions is that Rom only fought the Dire Wraiths. That is far from the truth. Besides battling heroes, he fought the likes of the Mole Man, Galactus, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, the Skrulls and even the Gremlin! How can you lose with a Rogues Gallery like that?

The nice thing is you can now enjoy the books for about a half a buck each, sometimes less and sometimes more. Considering the price of a comic today, that is quite a bargain and you will find. So if you are looking for a fun book that won't force you into a second job, then check out the Spaceknight. Rom will thank you for it!

Top Ten List!
With my article about gimmicks that comics used to entice readers, I decided to make up a list of gimmicks that haven't been used yet. I tried to make them as ridiculous as possible, but it doesn't mean that someone may not add them later. So if anyone uses any of these, let me know and I will laugh like a fool!

#10-Fish Skin Cover-That's right! You get a cover made out of skinned fish. There is a limited number of them and they will stink. For an extra $5.00, you get the whole fish with the book printed on it.

#09-Artists Fingernails-Each issue will come with a finger or toenail from one of the creative team. Will you get the fingernail from a hot artist or a toe nail from the assistant editor? Who knows? The only way to figure it out is to do a DNA test.

#08-Missing Page-Every issue will be missing at least one page. This way you have to buy at least two issues to read the full story. Plus, a few lucky readers will get a completely blank issue! A very rare and desirable collector's item!

#07-Future Star's Autographs-Know how they love minor league cards in baseball? How about yearbooks with pictures of Elvis or Michael Jordan? Well, we will give you an autograph of an up and coming comic star. Sure they are all grade schoolers, but some of them will amount to something. Who knows, you may get the next big actor or serial killer! You better buy up lots of these, cause you never know!

#06-Singing Comics-Know those greeting cards that play a song when you open them? Well, we are coming up with comics that play a tune, over and over and over when you open it. In fact, one you open it, the thing will not stop until you close it. So you better read fast or go completely crazy.

#05-Radioactive Comic-Many heroes got their powers from radiation (Fantastic Four, Spiderman, even Toxic Avenger), so this is your chance! Each comic that is priced at $99.95 comes in a lead box. The book is contaminated with all kinds of radioactive waste. Will you gain super strength? Possibly run faster than sound? Most likely you will get deathly sick and die a horrible and gruesome death. But isn't it worth it?

#04-Hyponotic Comics-When you look at the cover, you will be instantly hypnotized. When you come out of it (assuming you do come out of it, having a friend present is a good idea), you will believe you read the best comic ever! Of course, it is really just a repackaged Marvel Heavy Hitters or DC Impact comic, but you will think it is the second coming of the Watchmen.

#03-Growing Comics-You know those little foam animals that you drop in water and they grow to 50 times their original size, well we have a comic just like that! When you get it, it is very tiny (saves us on shipping). But when you drop it in water, it grows and grows to a full sized comic book! Of course, the water will make the ink run and it will be ruined, but what fun watching it grow!

#02-Putty Comics-What is more fun than putty? Imagine taking your comic and stretching it! Boy does Superman get funky, look at Plastic Man go, check out the legs on Wonder Woman! Ahem. Anyways, the only drawback is trying to get the book back into its proper shape, but what fun it is!

#01-Own a Piece of the Industry-Know how they sell supposed pieces of Jesus' cross or bones of saints? Well, we can dig up some dead comic veterans and put some bone fragments into each limited edition comic book. Sure it is morbid, sure it is ghoulish, but death sells! God, I hope they never do something this absurd and if they do, please don't give me credit for it.

Getting Those Heroes on Tape
If you are anything like me, then I am sure you watched super hero cartoons as a kid. Well, did you ever want to go back and see some of those cartoons of your youth? Sure you can catch the Superfriends on the Cartoon Network, but how about the rest of them? Well, there are sites all over the net that have video tapes for sale. But I found one site that has one of the best selections of these tapes made available for people who want to capture a piece of their childhood. The site is called Cool Stuff Videos and boy do they have a selection! They even have some of the really rare pieces like the Fantastic Four Live Action movie that was canned (and for good reason).

Here is the URL to this site:

http://www.coolstuffvideos.com/

Their prices are quite good too! So if you are desperate to relive your youth (just be warned that some cartoons are better left in your memory), then hop over and check them out! They have the selection to die for!

Conclusion
I decided to do this issue with a little more edge, to have some fun. Let me know what you think of it. Check back in a month for more of the newsletter that keeps coming out, despite better judgment. So if you like your comics old and cheap, then stop back and read about the books of yesteryear. Heck, send in an article and give me a hand. Talk to you soon and you better read those comics.

Tom Zjaba (I wrote it all, so lay all that blame on me, bubba!)