Tim

Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

Looking for the true value of comics…

In Comics, General on 14 August, 2011 at 5:50 pm

The monetary value of comics has fluctuated over the years. In the late-80s and early-90s, the Comic-Collector-Mania created a (brief) boom in comics that simulataneosly made a few people very rich, then nearly led to the collapse of the industry (or the “mainstream” industry any way… ) as speculators paid ridiculous prices for “limited edition” comics, spurring the publishers to produce variant covers that were deemed rarer and even more valuable…

Unfortunately, the bubble burst, nearly dragging Marvel comics with it

These days, there are still a few speculators out there, buying every number one issue and praying that it becomes more popular than its print run, so they can sell it on eBay for a profit that hopefully outweighs the money they spent on all the other titles that didn’t quite make it…

The truth of the matter is that there is really no monetary value left in modern comics. There are the occasional gems out there, sure, like a first print of Chew #1 or The Walking Dead, but generally speaking, most comics depreciate in value very quickly unless they were published prior to 1990 and are in “Mint” condition.

However…

There are other values to be found in comics. The value of stories, language and escapism…

Now, I have a tonne of old comics taking up space in our spare room and loft space, some worth more than I originally paid for them, but most much less.

I have been trying to do something with them for years. I sold about 3,000 comics on eBay half-a-dozen years ago… for about £200… Some I really wanted to keep for sentimental reasons, in some wistful dream that my children might want to read them when they are older… In the years since then, however, I have amassed even more comics and bought trade paperbacks and graphic novels that collected some of my favourite storylines in an easier-to-read format than individual comics (and in some cases on better paper and with remastered colours and lettering)… Which in turn leads to more comics that are merely taking up space in the house and arguably decreasing even further in value…

I have heard of organisations in the US that send comics overseas to soldiers stationed away from home, but I have had another idea…

I know that there are children out there who spend a lot of time in hospital and hospices across the country without much in terms of entertainment or distractions.

I want to donate my comics to children’s hospitals like Great Ormond Street or a Barnardos orphanage like the one my maternal Grandfather was raised in.

I am going to put them together in batches of storylines and bind them, then deliver them to various organisations.

Picture these children getting the chance to read a story that takes their minds off the pain they may be going through and potentially gives them inspiration and hope.

The next step would be collecting them back up and dropping off another batch, keeping the comics in rotation around the various places I can find.

Don’t worry, I will be looking at the actual content and making sure that no Mature Readers titles end up in a pre-teen ward or anything like that.

What I would like to do ultimately is see this spread across the country. See collectors like me admit to themselves that the vast majority of their collection would do more good in the hands of critically ill children than gathering dust in a room somewhere…

I intend to write to all the children’s charities in the UK that I can think of in an attempt to build a network of donors and recipients across the country. Ultimately this may lead to setting up a brand new charity all on its own, linked to other charities, but I just want to start small and build from there.

So, please, if you know anyone involved with a charity that might be able to help me establish some connections, send them a link to this blog and ask them to contact me?

My plan is to have a booth at Kapow Comic Convention next May in London to further expand the idea and make more contacts across the industry and find other fans who are a similar position and would like to donate their own comics to kids who would appreciate it.

The GCBC 2010 – Part 1: Living Room – Top Left Shelf

In Comics, The Great Comic Book Census of 2010 on 24 April, 2010 at 10:30 am

The Living Room
Left Bookshelf

Well, I may as well start here…
Starting at the top left and working my way along:

Top Shelf

Apologies for the picture quality… they were taken on my iPhone and therefore not that good… Particularly the close-ups…

Read the rest of this entry »

The Great Comic Book Census of 2010

In Comics, The Great Comic Book Census of 2010 on 19 April, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Welcome to my world. The idea behind “The Great Comic Book Census of 2010” is multifold.

What is this all about?
Firstly, it’s a look at what I am currently picking up each month at my Local Comic Shop (“LCS”), broken down into the same divisions they use: “Marvel Comics”; “DC Comics” (including imprints like Wildstorm and Vertigo), and; “Indie Comics” – the banner used to cover all the other publishers who aren’t “The Big Two”.

Secondly, I’ll be looking at “Graphic Novels and Collections”, whether they be standalone, one-off stories, a “Trade Paperback” or “Deluxe Hardcover”, or special reprints. Most of these have been obtained online, via Amazon, Forbidden Planet, or eBay…

Thirdly, a list of Digital Comics I have accumulated for my iPhone… And my thoughts about the comics themselves, their translation to this new medium, and how to find them…

I am also going to be using this as an exercise to see what titles I am really reading, what is piling up, what is and isn’t working for me and why…

I realise that I probably buy more comics per month than most other people other than reviewers or those directly involved with their creation, but I still spend less on comics per month than most of my work colleagues spend down the pub… Not being a big drinker (anymore) I think I actually get the better deal out of it…

Finally, I am also going to be looking at what to do with the comics that are slowly filling our house, quite literally from foundations (understairs cupboard) to rafters (reinforced roof storage) via various bedrooms inbetween… Some are going to be kept for posterity or nostalgia reasons, obviously. Some will hopefully be sold to appreciative recipients. Those that I want to get rid of, that simply won’t sell? I have no idea what to do with them… I’d like to gift them to charities or children’s hospitals and the like, but I have no idea where to start… Any advice or suggestions there would be greatly appreciated…

Structure and Methodology
Seeing as I have neither the time, nor the room, to sort everything in one go, I am going to simply work my way around the house, one room at a time, one shelf, or one box at a time… Sorting, commenting and listing as I go.

Once I’ve finished each bunch, I’m going to add it to a master list, linking back to the original posts for each title…

I hope you all enjoy the adventure!

Tim

General Update – Monday 25th May, 2009

In Comics, Formula 1, General on 25 May, 2009 at 9:40 pm

I’d like to apologise for my lack of blogging recently…

I blog mainly from my EeePC, and that has been having a lot of problems… Should all be solved now though, as I have installed a stripped-down version of Windows XP on it and that seems to be behaving itself nicely!

I will endeavour to catch up on my comic and F1 blogging over the next few weeks, and also hope to be able to redesign the blog slightly using some basic CSS skills and a bit of Photoshop wizardry.

Mainly I’d like to redesign the front page to give you a choice of Comics or F1 from the outset, with a few topical graphics.  I also would like to get permission to use pictures from the world of F1 and Comics, so you people can actually see what I’m talking about sometimes…

Maybe when Apple finally roll-out their iPhone OS3 update, it will be easier to blog from my iPhone, but lack of Copy/Paste is really hampering things at the moment…

In the meantime, I posted a sort of Race Report on DiffuseF1.com, a new website for the Twitter generation, put together by @SarahAnnGreen and @tkei – early days yet, but has a tonne of potential! Go and have a look!

Bye for now,

Tim

Comics – What I’ve read this week – 22nd of April 2009

In Comics on 21 April, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Played catch-up on Jack of Fables and Fables. Really looking forward to the Great Fables Crossover… Hope it makes “Event of the Year”!

Captain Britain and M.I.13 just gets better and better. I just wants me some more Union Jack… Come on, we’ve got vampires, Baron Blood, Excalibur… Union Jack, please?

Astonishing X-Men. Forge. Can Warren Ellis make me like a character that I find strangely boring?

Read the rest of this entry »

Comics That Blew My Mind

In Comics, General on 17 April, 2009 at 11:09 pm

I haven’t completely forgotten about comics, don’t worry.  I’ve just been overwhelmed by all the F1 news, both on and off the track for the last few weeks.

I’ll get back to my early influences, and my thoughts on comics in general shortly, but in the meantime, I am also going to skip back and forth in my personal romance with comics and mention comics, authors, artists and events that influenced me in one way or another, and how they continue to affect my current reading list.

Read the rest of this entry »

Will YOU watch the Watchmen?

In Comics, General on 02 March, 2009 at 12:08 am

Rather than continue my history of “comics and me”, I thought I would write about something else tonight… I just realised that this week a highly anticipated movie comes out…

Even more anticipated, dreaded, cheered, pre-judged and hyped than either The Lord of the Rings or The Dark Knight

I’m talking of course of Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Graphic Novel (or 12-issue “maxi” series of comics, depending on your point of view) Watchmen.

For those of us who read the book (and I use that term with good reason) either when it first came out, or in the early nineties, it was a bombshell of a comic. Here were two British creators who had taken the superhero concept, placed it in an alternate world just like ours, but subtly different. “The Superman does exist, and he is American!” was the news story from the forties that changed the world of the Watchmen. The USA won the Vietnam war. It is 1985, and Nixon is still in power. Cars are electric. Kids read Pirate Comics, because Superhero comics were competing with real Superheroes in the news. It had nudity, swearing, rape, murder, broken limbs, and an oppressive right-wing American government still locked in a Cold War with the USSR and edging closer and closer to nuclear Armageddon (the clock motif represents a “Doomsday Clock” slowly ticking closer to midnight…).

Compared to “Superman the Movie” it was like comparing “The Untouchables” to “Murder, She Wrote“…

The book has many stories interwoven throughout a core detective story of one vigilante hero (“Masks” have been outlawed) trying to solve the murder of another ex-hero, “The Comedian”… The yellow “Smiley” badge with a blood splatter on the corner became a symbol recognised by comic geeks all over the world.

The problem that I’m facing is the same one that I had before “The Fellowship of the Ring” (Part one of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as you well know 😉 )came out. I had seen the trailers. I loved Peter Jackson as a director, having seen all his previous films, but couldn’t help worrying if his vision would come close to my vision of a book that I have read about seven or eight times in the last 20 years, and loved utterly. (I know, sad old geek… 😦 )

I came out of the cinema that time grinning from ear-to-ear, having adored every minute of it.

The problem is, this is a Graphic Novel, not a Novel. It utilises the form to perfection, pushing the storytelling into new patterns and styles that hadn’t really been used before. Re-reading Watchmen is a necessity to getting to more and more out of it. There are so many incidental characters, whose stories are told in glimpses and then stitched together in text pieces at the end of each chapter, while whole pages are given over to a pirate comic being read by a boy at a newsstand, who pops up throughout the story, from the first chapter to the last…

I know that like Tom Bombadil was dropped from the Fellowship film, various stories will be lost (like the artists on the island bit), and it occurred to me that I didn’t want to have read the comic first. The trailers look fantastic. The world they’ve created looks like the comic. The costumes look spectacular, and the actors seem fine (I prefer a no-Name cast, if offers less distractions and the actors work harder (look at Star Wars!).

I’m going to try and see it in the next couple of weeks with my wife. She’s keen, she’s seen the trailers, and she’s heard about the book (hell, in the last 15 years, she must have seen me read it half a dozen times!) but I’ve told her that she’d be better off reading it after she’s seen the film… I think she’ll appreciate it a bit more… And if you haven’t read it yet, wait until after the film… and remember: “READ THE TEXT BITS TOO!” (that’s the wordy bits at the end of the picture-y bit, okay? There’s only twelve of them, it’s not that hard) 😉

Now if only WordPress had an keystroke for a Watchmen Smiley… B)

Comics part 2 – What influenced me as a young boy

In Comics on 28 February, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Apart from the occasional copy of The Beano, I don’t really remember reading many British or American comics until I was about 7 or 8 years old… Until then, I was devouring Asterix and Tintin, reading them again and again.

When Fleetway relaunched Eagle in the late 70s/early 80s, I was hooked. Not on the photo stories that much (although Doomlord was stunning!) rather the New Dan Dare…

At the same time I spotted a couple of other books on the rack, Captain America, Superman and Batman… Captain America had me hooked. I don’t recall the actual issue number, but I remember the story. Rick Jones, Marvel’s perennial fanboy sidekick, has ended up following Captain America, and wants to be the new Bucky (Cap’s old partner, who died at the end of Word War II)… They end up fighting Hydra (a giant international terrorist organisation) in an underground base, hidden in the sewers (where else?) and one of them (might have been both of them – I haven’t read the story in nearly 30 years!!) gets drugged and starts to hallucinate… The artwork is stunning… I actually felt dizzy and mildly nauseous reading it, it was drawn so well, that it conveyed perfectly what was happening to our heroes’ minds… I think the artist was Steranko, but I could be wrong…

From that point I started getting Captain America, Batman, Superman, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man… whenever they popped-up on the rack…

The other issue, from the American comics, that sticks in my mind is from the Incredible Hulk… At that time, the Hulk (alias Bruce Banner, as I’m sure most people know by now) was wandering around, like a sort of Angry Green Lone Ranger, helping people and fighting monsters. He ends up helping a blind girl, who thanks him. I can’t remember if she was partly cured or if it was just how she read his face with her fingers, but she sees him as a handsome, almost noble version of Bruce Banner, NOT as the beast that he sees himself. He runs away. It really was a moving story, and I wish I still owned it so I could read it again. If anyone reading this article knows which issue I’m talking about, please let me know.

British comics appealed more to me for one simple reason. They were weekly as opposed to monthly! Comics like Battle, Hotspur, Tiger, Eagle and Action, all featured five or six stories per issue, ranging from short two- or three-page stories up to the more regular eight-page stories. Most were serials, continued each week, and ending with a cliffhanger that made you want to pick next week’s issue. They also had very few superheroes (none of which to my memory had special powers, they were just athletic, and had a few Bond-like gimmicks). The super-powered hero was, and mostly still is, a very American type of hero. British comic heroes were more likely to be private investigators, policemen, secret agents, bounty hunters, or soldiers… They seemed more grounded in reality. Even the new Dan Dare with his time-travelling and aliens (he was the grandson of the original Dan Dare) seemed more likely to me than Superman.

I guess that’s why of all the American superheroes, I preferred the non-powered heroes (admittedly most were billionaires, with loads of toys!) like Batman, who had merely(!) improved themselves to Olympian levels of fitness. Or the ones with just one power, like The Flash (able to move extremely fast), The Hulk (Super-strong), Iron Man (a genius who built a flying suit of armour) or The Thing (made of Rock).

[To be continued in part 3]

Comics-what do I mean?

In Comics on 24 February, 2009 at 12:26 am

Okay… What do I mean when I say that I love comics?

Well, I’m not talking about comedians. That’s another subject all together… My favourite comedians are people like Bill Hicks, Eddie Izzard, Bill Bailey and Billy Connelly.

When I use the term “comics” I am referring to the often dismissed medium of graphical story-telling. An artform and literature class that has been around for hundreds of years, and probably has its roots as far back as cave paintings… The ability to tell a story either with pictures only, or enhanced by words…

In the Anglo-western world, most people associate this with “funnybooks for kids”, (the vast majority of which aren’t really funny), superheroes who wear their undergarments outside their leg-coverings, large-breasted women in skimpy clothing and talking animals… In Europe, there is less of a stigma attached to comicbooks, with most people having at the very least heard of Tintin, Asterix, Lucky Luke and The Smurfs... … And many will have read them too!

Ironically, comics from most British and American publishers are aimed squarely at the adult market. Partly due to cost involved, and partly due to the fact kids are put off by being told “that’s kid’s stuff” and various other things like TV, portable games consoles, non-portable games consoles, sex and other distractions proving more “interesting” or “cool”… Falling literacy levels may have something to do with it too, but that may actually be the other way round too…

By that I mean that falling numbers of young comic readers could be contributing to the falling literacy levels. Comics are a great learning tool. I remember my French helping me to understand Tintin written in French, and vice-versa, Tintin improved my French!

You see, until somewhere around the beginning of 2008, Tintin in the Congo was not available in English! Apparently, Hergé’s depiction of Africans was deemed offensive. Now, bear in mind that I was living in Africa at the time, and plenty of my African friends read Tintin as well. If there was anything offensive about the characters, we certainly never noticed it… … but we were young, and in those days believed that racism only really existed in South Africa, and that the UK, Europe and the USA were racism-free… ah well… the point is, I had read all the Tintin books there were apart from four… Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (which hadn’t been collected at that point, so it doesn’t really count), Tintin in the Congo, Tintin and the Blue Oranges, and Tintin and the Golden Fleece… The last two were “movie books” like Tintin and the Lake of Sharks and were adaptations of films… So I tried to read Tintin in the Congo in French…

Here, finally, is my point: I followed the story primarily through the artwork, using words I recognised to get the gist of what was happening… Using body language and expressions, that Hergé was so good at (okay it was a bit raw at this stage as it was his first proper “album”, but his art of graphical story-telling was still superb, and he got sooo much better!) I was able to grasp the context of what was being said and once I started associating names, recognised a few verbs, etc., I was suddenly reading the story…

I couldn’t have done the same thing with a regular book.

Superheroes are only one genre in comics. There are hundreds more. Just as there are huge sections in a bookstore devoted to different genres, you can find many counterparts in comics. starting with the “biggies” Crime, Horror, Romance, Science Fiction, Thrillers, onto the more niche like Westerns, War, Real Life, Autobiographies, Childrens, even “Classical Literature” adaptations like Homer’s Illiad

I will expand, if you can stand to read my further ramblings, in future posts…

Until then, try to think of a book that you always wanted to read, then go to an online bookstore and see if they have a “Graphic Novel” version…

Happy reading!

Tim