Friday, September 22, 2017

My Collections, Part 4: Starman (Mikaal Tomas)

For the one or two people who are reading about my collections, I apologize for the tardiness in updates. I've been having some financial urgencies, I've since decided that I'm going to start opening up the majority of my Starman and Joe Hill collections for purchase, but all of my Jack Knight and Locke & Key stuff are staying with me.

That said, I'm going to continue with my blogs as if I've still got everything. I've actually sold very little, and most were issues I already blogged about in Ted Knight's entry. So I'm 99% sure that, at least for Mikaal, I've still got everything I say I've got.

Mikaal is strange and wonderful character, and his history is somewhat marvelous. He was first introduced in 1st Issue Special #12 in 1976. From what I understand, DC's copyright on the name Starman was about to run out, so they needed to get a character introduced...or something like that. I don't know why they just wouldn't do some more Ted Knight and JSA stories, but that's above my pay grade. So he was introduced...then he was abandoned and not seen again until James Robinson started his own Starman series. I would gladly argue with anyone about Mikaal's one-page appearance at the very end of issue #3 that gave us the first clue as to how deep Robinson's series would delve into the storied history of the name Starman, not just the Knight lineage.

Robinson took that one issue and crafted a wonderful history for this blue-skinned character. He gave him a full life with loves and enemies and struggles...lots of struggles. He also did something pretty awesome and a bit ahead of its time while staying under the radar. Robinson effortlessly and naturally gave us a wonderful gay superhero without being a stereotype. He and his partner Tony just WERE. There was no fuss, no spectacle, no "READ THIS COMIC BOOK BECAUSE SOMEBODY IS GAY." They were just characters on a natural progression, which is really how things should be.

After Robinson's Starman series ended, Mikaal was able to live a peaceful life for a bit...until Robinson took over writing duties on the Justice League and had Mikaal join up. Dude's had a rough go of things, and Robinson really didn't let up. Poor guy.

Mikaal, like the other Starmen before and after him, has not been reintroduced into the post-Flashpoint New 52 Universe. There is a slightly better chance of him or the rest of the Starmen showing up in the post-Rebirth multiverse now that some pre-Flashpoint continuities have been folded into some post-Flashpoint continuities.

Here are my current haves and needs for Mikaal.

Have List

1st Issue Special #1
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #3 (variant), 6 (variant), TPB
Brightest Day #15, 15 (variant), 16, 16 (variant), TPB v2
Justice League of America Vol. 2 (2006 series) #42, 43, 43 (variant), 44, 44 (variant), 45, 46, 46 (variant), 47, 47 (variant), 48, 48 (variant), 49, 49 (variant), 53, 53 (variant), 54, 54 (variant), 55, 55 (variant), 56, 56 (variant), 57, 57 (variant), 58, 58 (variant), 59, 59 (variant), 60, 60 (variant)
Justice League: Cry for Justice #1, 1 (variant), 1 (sideways), 2, 2 (2nd Print), 4, 5, 6, 7
Justice League: The Rise and Fall Special #1
Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal #2
Justice Leagues: Justice League of Aliens
Justice Society of America Vol. 3 (2007 series) #41, 41 (variant), 42, 42 (variant), 43
Starman Vol. 2 (1994 series) #3 (Signed by Tony Harris), 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 25, 27, 28, 29, 33, 35, 45, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 63, 64, 65, 67, 69, 70, 71, 73, 76, 80, TPB Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10
Starman Omnibus Vol. 1, 2, 3 (Signed by Drew Geraci), 4 (Signed by Drew Geraci, John Lucas), 5, 6, TPB 1, 2
Starman 80-Page Giant #1 (Signed by John Lucas, Drew Geraci)
Starman Secret Files #1
Starman/Congorilla #1
Supergirl Vol. 5 (2005 series) #65
Superman: War of the Supermen #4, 4 (variant)
Superman: War of the Supermen Double Feature #2
Superman/Batman Annual #5
Titans Vol. 2 (2008 series) #36, 38, Annual #1

Want List
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #3, 5, 5 (variant), 6, HC
Brightest Day HC v2, Omnibus
DC Universe: Origins TPB
Justice League of America Vol. 2 (2006 series) #42 (variant), 45 (variant)
Justice League: Cry for Justice TPB, HC
Justice League: The Rise and Fall Special #1 (variant)
Starman Vol. 2 (1994) TPB Vol. 5, 7, 9
Subway Presents: Justice League #3
Superman: War of the Supermen TPB, HC

Thursday, September 21, 2017

What I'm Watching in the 2017/2018 TV Season (with a LOT of asterisks)

After not doing a "What I'm Watching This Season" post for the past couple of years, I thought I'd give it another try this year. Previously, when I had cable and limitations, it was easy. I'd have a set schedule, plug in the shows I want to watch, and there you go. I could watch one show live, and depending on how long ago this was, I could record another show that aired at the same time, either on my VCR or later on my DVR.

Things have changed, though. I no longer have cable; I stream everything. This means that except for the rare occasion (HBO), I can't watch a show until the day after it airs. I'm perfectly fine with that. I'm also not limited by the constraints of a recording device. If I want to watch 10 shows that air at the same time, I can do that...because I don't watch them as they air. Because of that and with streaming and on-demand access and the standard fall-to-spring "season" gradually breaking down, it's more difficult to make a list.

So this is going to be a weird list. I'll start it off with the standard season list, go into the weird releases, then hit the random streaming stuff I want to get to. Because of the aforementioned breakdown of the conventional TV season, some of these programs have already started, or have just ended. Some won't start until sometime in 2018. Whatever. Enjoy!

Standard 2017-2018 TV Season (Thank you Wikipedia)

ABC
Modern Family
Designated Survivor
Inhumans (ComicBookMovie.com is already reporting that the show is cancelled before it even airs)
Agents of SHIELD
Splitting Up Together,
Alex, Inc.

NBC
This is Us
Blacklist
Superstore
The Good Place
Will & Grace (maybe...I gave up on this midway through the original series, not sure if I want to pick it back up)
Great News
Timeless
Rise (I like Jason Katims' previous stuff)
Reverie (I have no idea what it's about, but Sarah Shahi and Dennis Haysbert? Sold.)
Good Girls
Champions
A.P. Bio
Trial & Error

Fox
Ghosted
Family Guy
The Last Man on Earth
Bob's Burgers
Lucifer
The Gifted
The Mick
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Gotham
The Orville
The Exorcist
X-Files (I absolutely HATED the most recent season, but I like Anderson and Duchovny, so...)
New Girl

The CW
Supergirl
Flash
Legends of Tomorrow
Supernatural
Arrow
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Black Lightning
iZombie

ALL of the OTHER stuff:

AMC
The Walking Dead
Fear the Walking Dead
Preacher
Loaded

HBO
Ballers
Crashing
The Deuce
Divorce
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Room 104 (Very meh on this right now)
Silicon Valley
True Detective
Veep
Westworld
Sharp Objects
Barry

Syfy
Dark Matter
Wynonna Earp
Con Man

Netflix
Documentary Now!
Atypical
Gypsy
Friends from College
Narcos
Bloodline
Bojack Horseman
Arrested Development
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Sense8
Punisher
Black Mirror
Jessica Jones
Stranger Things
Santa Clarita Diet
13 Reasons Why

Hulu
Locke & Key
Welcome to Sweden
The Mindy Project
The Handmaid's Tale
Casual
The Path
Chance

Cartoon Network
Rick and Morty
Robot Chicken

FX
American Horror Story: Cult
You're the Worst
Better Things
Archer
Legion
Atlanta
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Starz
The Girlfriend Experience
American Gods
Ash vs. the Evil Dead

TBS
Angie Tribeca
The Detour
The Guest Book

Amazon
Comrade Detective
Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan
Catastrophe
Sneaky Pete

Spike
The Mist

Cinemax
Outcast

DirecTV
Mr. Mercedes

TV Land
Teachers
The Jim Gaffigan Show

CBS shows I'll eventually watch once they're on something other than CBS's pay-to-watch app
Big Bang Theory (I'm a season or two behind)
Star Trek Discovery
SEAL Team
Elementary
The Odd Couple

Shows I eventually want to watch but I haven't even started yet, or I started but never finished:

Carnivale
The Comeback
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The 100
Six Fee Under
Treme
Better Call Saul
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
The Strain
Fargo
The Americans
Broad City
Gravity Falls
Stephen Universe
Star vs. the Forces of Evil
Continuum
Mad Men
Gracepoint
Broadchurch
Portlandia
Doctor Who
Orphan Black
Mr. Robot

Friday, August 18, 2017

My Collections, Part 3: Starman of 1951

Not a lot to show here. The Starman of 1951 was a throwaway character in an early issue of Detective Comics (#247 from September 1957). Spoiler alert, it's an alternate hero Batman poses as...for some reason. I don't have this comic, although I'm always searching eBay for a complete, cheap issue.

During James Robinson's Starman series, he brought in ALL characters who have ever used the name Starman. Now, he couldn't actually bring in Batman as a former Starman, so he retconned the character into Dr. Mid-Nite posing as the character while...well, y'know, go read the comics. Seriously, it's worth it.

These are the few appearances and pieces of artwork I have. The art pieces are from sets mentioned in the last post.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My Collections, Part 2.2: Starman (Ted Knight) - The Stuff

It wasn't until I started REALLY collecting Starman comics that I decided I was going to get ALL things Starman related. This includes toys, trading cards, prints, posters, miscellaneous collectibles, and original art.

One of the good things about collecting a character like Starman is that there isn't a ton of stuff out there to collect. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, etc....fuggedaboutit. With Starman, there's just enough stuff out there to make the hunt fun, but not enough to overwhelm me. And there aren't a lot of high-dollar items out there. Statues and original art will always be expensive, but the character just isn't sought after enough to make his action figures or trading cards all that sought after.

First up is my original art. This part of my collection started about 10 years ago. I was a member of an online graphic novel trading group called Sequential Swap. I was contacted by member Derek Fridolfs to see if I would be interested in trading for one of my books. He said he was an artist and would trade one of my books for a sketch of a character of my choosing. He showed me some samples of his art, which was a little cartoony but still good, so I jumped on the chance. I ended up getting six different Starman sketches from him, ultimately wanting him to do each character for me, but I never got around to having him finish the series. I'm pretty sure the first sketch (Jack Knight) was the only one I traded for, and I probably paid for all of the other, no more than $30 for each character.

The Fred Hembeck sketch is on a blank card the size of a trading card. I ran across this piece on eBay, where he was apparently selling a bunch of cards like this but with different characters. I picked it up for $10, which I thought was a bargain.

A couple years ago I looked at that uncompleted Derek Fridolfs project of Starman sketches and thought I need to try again (by this time Derek was really making a name for himself, and I assumed his sketch prices were going up), but one a somewhat smaller scale. I came across artist Rob Retiano through a Facebook group where we were both members. He posted some of his art and mentioned he was open for commissions, so I brought him my idea for the cards. One card for each person to ever take the mantle of Starman, as well as his arch nemesis (all three Mists) and The Shade. There were also two versions of Ted (in costume and when he was older) as well as two versions of Prince Gavyn, Mikaal, Will, and David (Blacked Night David was included). He drew and colored a total of 20 cards for me, and I couldn't have been happier with what I received.

The two Brett Jones pieces were done as a trade through a Facebook group, but I do not remember what I traded for the piece. He included the finished piece (with an interesting new color scheme) as well as a preliminary drawing he did to get warmed up for the final piece. He also included a signed copy of the first issue of his comic Radiation Day!

The splatter print was kind of a lark. I liked the idea of the pictures, but I ended up having a bit of buyers remorse. I wasn't paying for original art or a print of an original piece by the artist. I was basically paying for a piece from another artist that was recolored. When I asked the artist about his process, this is what he told me: "I paint these digitally in Photoshop with various brushes." When I brought up that the pictures greatly resemble works by other artists, he said, "I typically look at a reference photo so it is possible they resemble other work ... I'm not familiar with the artists though." I realized that this kind of work isn't my thing, but if it's yours, check the guy out. His Etsy store has been offline since April, but it says it'll be back.


I don't have anything illuminating to say about the trading cards or the action figures. They are what they are. Same with the cup, but I thought it was a neat find. 7-11 having superhero cups isn't all that surprising or exciting, but putting the Golden Age Starman on a cup? That seems pretty out there.

Here are the pics for the collection. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My Collections, Part 2.1: Starman (Ted Knight) - The Comics

This is going to be the first image-heavy post. Rather than clutter up the actual post with a bunch of images that I can't rearrange all that well, I've decided to upload them to an Imgur album. Easy peasy. The link will be at the bottom of the post.

I don't really have much of a connection with Theodore "Ted" Knight, the original Starman. My love of Starman comes from Ted's son, Jack, and the series that follows his exploits. But because I love Jack, I love Starman, and because I love Starman, I love ALL the characters who have taken up the mantle and used the name, and that includes Ted.

This is going to be the most difficult character in which to collect. It's not that he has a ton of appearances, it's just that most of them, at the least his main appearances and not just when he appears in the background as a member of the JSA, are in the Golden Age. I'm looking at about 40 issues of Adventure Comics and about 15 issues of All-Star Comics. Even rough copies of these comics are going to cost me some serious scratch. These will probably be the last issues I'll end up acquiring, if I ever do.

Like I said, Ted isn't my go-to Starman, There is, however, one story that he's a part of that is amazing, and it's no coincidence that it's written by Jack's guiding hand, James Robertson. The Golden Age predates Robinson's Starman series, both in publication and setting. The series takes place following WWII, and the heroes of the time are adjusting to life after the war...The War? Do we capitalize it? Or is that only when we call it The Great War?

Anyways, the story is an Elseworlds series. If you're not familiar, that's the banner DC used to give their alternate reality stories: Batman: Red Rain and Gotham by Gaslight, Superman: Red Son, etc. They even devoted an entire year's annual to Elseworld stories. I REALLY want to talk about the story and what it's about, but even though the story is 24 years old, I don't want to spoil it. I CAN say, though, Ted's character (and he really is more Ted than Starman here) has some great characterization that Robinson actually brings over to his Starman series.

If you're a fan of the story, I just found this old webpage that has annotations on the series. I'm going to be diving into that sometime this week.

Besides The Golden Age, there are a few personal highlights of my Ted Knight collection. I've acquired some of the Silver Age Justice League issues, including the first appearance of the Silver Age Red Tornado. I was lucky enough to snag it for a good price right before it was announced he was going to be on the Supergirl TV show. I've also got the hard-to-find Golden Age and Starman uncorrected preview editions.

I can remember only three times when reading a comic book made me cry. The second time was Ultimate Peter Parker's funeral in Ultimate Fallout #1, when the little girl asked Aunt May if she was the one who made Peter breakfast. Oof, I'm almost tearing up just thinking about it. The third was issue #134 of Fables where Bigby Wolf is reunited with his child (I won't say which one or why they're being reunited...GO READ FABLES). It was beautiful and sad and happy and probably my favorite part of the series, and that is saying A LOT.

The first time I cried when reading a comic book, though, was the memorial service for Ted. The memories were spectacular, and somewhat simplistic art by Peter Snejberg perfectly captured the mood. With the Ultimate Fallout issue, I read it thinking about me surviving the death of one of my kids, and with Fables I read it thinking about having a reunion with one of them. With Starman issue #73, though, I imagined what kind of stories I'd be hearing about my own father if this were his memorial service. It's one thing for a writer to write...that's their job. But those who can put you in the scene and make you feel so many emotions...for an imaginary character...that's talent.

The Jack Knight I grew to love could not have happened without Ted. I don't say that in a snarky way to suggest that without his dad he wouldn't have been born, because duh. Robinson's Starman series was about family and legacy. There were eight different Starman beginning with Ted. There was a Starboy as a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. There was a Stargirl. Without Ted, there wouldn't be this rich heritage. Don't believe me? Look at DC's rebooted line. There was no Golden Age of Heroes once DC introduced the New 52 universe in 2011. There was no Ted Knight/Starman (there MAY have been a Ted Knight, who knows, but there was no Golden Age Starman), so there was no Jack Knight/Starman. There was/is a Stargirl, but she had nothing to do with the Knight family and the Starman legacy, at least that we've been told. She still found her step-dad's cosmic belt and a cosmic rod, but as far as I know their creator has not been named. Maybe it was Ted?

I'm hoping that Ted is one of the characters brought back when the Justice Society eventually returns. C'mon, it's going to happen. I would have even been happy with a new Starman in the Earth 2 series, but that never happened. So we'll just have to keep looking to the future and see what DC has in store.

If I've done my research, and I believe I have, here are my two lists for Starman (Ted Knight), my Have List and my Want List:

Have List

  • 52 #7, 27, 38
  • Action Comics Vol. 1 #663
  • Adventure Comics Vol. 1 #61 (Millennium Edition), 466
  • Adventure Comics Vol. 2 #1
  • All-American Comics Vol. 2 #1
  • All-Star Comics Vol. 1 #69-70, 74
  • All-Star Comics Vol. 2 #1-2
  • All-Star Comics Illustrated Index #1
  • All-Star Squadron #1-5, 7, 10, 15, 17-19, 24, 27, 30-31, 34, 38, 41-43, 47, 50-51, 53, 57-60, 64, Annual #2-3
  • America vs. the Justice Society #1-4, Trade Paperback
  • Armageddon: Inferno #3-4
  • Batman/Hellboy/Starman #1-2
  • Birds of Prey #4, 4 (White Lantern Variant)
  • Blackest Night: JSA #3, 3 (Variant)
  • Brave and the Bold Vol. 1 #61-62, 182
  • Countdown #20, 43, 46-47
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths #4, 9, 10, 12
  • Damage #12, 15
  • DC 2000 #1
  • DC Comics One Million #1
  • DC Comics Presents: Superman - Sole Survivor #1 (Signed by cover artist Kevin Nowlan)
  • DC Sampler #2
  • DC Universe Holiday Bash #2
  • DC Universe: Legacies #5
  • DC/Wildstorm: Dreamwar #2
  • DCU Heroes Secret Files and Origins #1
  • Final Crisis Secret Files and Origins #1 (Border Cover), 1 (Full Cover)
  • Final Night #2-3
  • Flash Vol. 2 Annual #3
  • Golden Age #1-4, Deluxe Hardcover, Preview, Trade Paperback
  • Golden Age Secret Files and Origins #1
  • Green Lantern Corps Quarterly #1 (Signed by Mark Bright), 3 (Signed by Mark Bright), 6
  • Green Lantern Secret Files #1 (Signed by Kevin Nowlan, Darryl Banks)
  • Green Lantern: Brightest Day, Blackest Night
  • Green Lantern: Fear Itself
  • Green Lantern/Sentinel: Heart of Darkness #1
  • Hellboy: Masks and Monsters Trade Paperback
  • History of the DC Universe #1-2, Trade Paperback, Hardcover
  • Infinite Crisis #2 (Jim Lee), 2 (George Perez)
  • Infinity Inc. #1-2, 8-9, 12, 20-21, 25, 27, 34, 48, Annual #1, 2
  • JLA: Incarnations #4
  • JLA: Year One #2, 4, 11, 12
  • JSA #1, 18, 56, 69 (Signed by Keith Champagne), 70-72
  • JSA: All-Stars Vol. 1 #4, 8
  • JSA Classified #20
  • JSA Secret Files and Origins #1 (Signed by Darryl Banks, Kevin Nowlan)
  • JSA: Strange Adventures #1-6, Trade Paperback
  • Justice League: Another Nail #3
  • Justice League of America Vol. 1 #30, 64, 73, 82-83, 101, 193, 207-208, 219-220, 231-232
  • Justice League: The Nail #1
  • Justice Society of America Vol. 1 #1-3, 5, 7
  • Justice Society of America Vol. 2 #1
  • Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #8, 8 (Variant), 25, 25 (Variant), 50, 50 (Variant)
  • Last Days of the Justice Society of America Special #1
  • Legends of the DC Universe #1
  • Manhunter Vol. 4 #13, 23
  • Martian Manhunter Vol. 2 #20
  • Red Tornado #1, 3
  • Sandman Mystery Theatre #38-40
  • Secret Origins Vol. 3 #7, 27, 50
  • Smash Comics Vol. 2 #1
  • Spectre Vol. 3 #20
  • Starman Vol. 1 #26-27
  • Starman Vol. 2 #0-4 (all signed by Tony Harris), 7, 9-13, 15-18, 20-22, 24-25, 27, 29-30, 32-35, 37, 39-53, 55-56, 61-72, 76-79, 1,000,000, Annual #1-2, Sins of the Father Trade Paperback
  • Starman 80-Page Giant #1 (Signed by John Lucas and Drew Geraci)
  • Starman Secret Files and Origins #1
  • Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0, 2, 4, 8-9
  • Superman Vol. 2 #226
  • Superman/Batman #41
  • Superman: Our Worlds at War Secret Files and Origins #1
  • Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert Hardcover
  • Thrilling Comics Vol. 2 #1
  • Vault of Michael Allred #4
  • Wanted, the World's Most Dangerous Villains #6
  • War of the Gods #2, 2 (Collector's Edition), Trade Paperback
  • Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #12, 22
  • Who's Who Update '87 #1
  • Wonder Woman Vol. 1 #231-232
  • World's Finest Comics #265
  • Young All-Stars #1, 3, 9, 20, 27
  • Zero Hour #1-3, Trade Paperback
Want List
  • Adventure Comics Vol. 1 #61-102, 462
  • All-Star Comics Vol. 1 #8-23
  • All-Star Comics Vol. 2 #1 (RRP Variant)
  • All-Star Comics 80-Page Giant #1
  • All-Star Squadron #20-22, 25, 28, 32-33, 35, 44-45, 50, 53, 60, Annual #3
  • Batman: Secret of the Batcave Trade Paperback
  • Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol. 2 Hardcover and Trade Paperback
  • Convergence #8
  • Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 1, 2, 3, 6 Trade Paperbacks
  • Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team-Ups Vol. 1, 2 Trade Paperbacks
  • DC 100-Page Super-Spectacular #DC-20
  • DC 2000 #2
  • DC Comics/Dark Horse Comics: Justice League Vol. 1 Trade Paperback
  • DC Comics One Million Trade Paperback, Omnibus Hardcover
  • DC Sneak Preview #1
  • DC Universe: Legacies #5 (Variant), Trade Paperback, Hardcover
  • DC Universe: Origins Trade Paperback
  • DC/Wildstorm: Dreamwar Trade Paperback
  • Fate #22
  • Final Crisis Companion
  • Final Night Trade Paperback
  • Golden Age Starman Archives Vol. 1-2 Hardcovers
  • JSA Presents: Green Lantern
  • Justice League of America Vol. 1 #29, 74, 100, 102, 209
  • Justice Society of America Vol. 1 #8
  • Justice Society of America Vol. 2 #9-10
  • Legionnaires Annual #3
  • Manhunter Vol. 4 Trial by Fire Trade Paperback, Origins Trade Paperback
  • Power of Shazam #35-36
  • Spectre Vol. 3 #62
  • Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #159
  • Wonder Woman 1972 Trade Paperback
  • Young All-Stars #14
Here's a link to pics of all of my Ted Knight/Starman comics.

Friday, July 14, 2017

My Collections, Part 1: The Beginning & Chronicle

I've wanted to make a post highlighting my collection for some time, but I've been unsure of how to do it. I've already made a post about my Locke & Key collection, but it's grown since then so I want to update that.

So how do I go about presenting it? With Joe Hill, do I go by series? That's going to be another huge L&K post with other tinier posts. With Starman, do I break it down by the different Starmen, starting with Ted Knight?

Whatever I do, I've got to start somewhere. My collection is constantly growing, what with new Hill books and comics (even if they're only new collections or series based on his works if not written by him) coming out, and I'm still building my Starman back issue collection. If I keep waiting, I'll ALWAYS be waiting.

So fuck it, let's kick this bitch off with something small.

I don't know when he started working with me, and I don't know when he quit, and I don't know how long he was here. I've been with the same company for more than 16 years now, and everything just blends together. It's a swirl of friends and projects and bullshit.

But I digress.

There was a guy, his name was (and still is, if I'm being 100% factual) Jonthan Gibson. He was hired as a computer forensic analyst. I don't take to new people quickly, but we ended up bonding over nerdy things, eventually forming a good friendship.

When he was in school at the Savannah College of Art and Design (Jonathan, please forgive me if I get any detail wrong, and by all means feel free to correct me), he and artist Julie Collins self published three issues of a fantasy comic book called Chronicle.

One Friday during my lunch break I was visiting my friendly neighborhood local comic book store (LCBS from here on in) because they had posted on Facebook that they had purchased a box full of variant covers and they were priced to sell. I'm a completist, so when I'm collecting something, I'm collecting ALL of it, and that includes all types of variant covers and reprints. So I spent a little bit of time shuffling through the short box of comics, pulling out issues here and there, so I "needed," some I figured I could flip for profit (meh, I've been only slightly successful with that). Toward the end of the box I came across two black and white comics, no publisher mentioned anywhere on the cover. The title tickled something in my brain, so I pulled one of the comics out. There, right on the bottom, was my coworker's name. Out of all the comics I bought that day (and it was quite a few), these two, issues 0 and 1 (sadly, no #2), are by far my most valued (in sentiment if not monetary value).

I bought these books after Jonathan had moved on from ROCIC to greener pastures. However, I host a Game of Thrones season premiere viewing party every year that he attends. The first one I had after purchasing his comics, I brought them out and had him sign them for me. Just because he's my friend doesn't change the fact that I'm a collector at heart. I've since located Ms. Collins through social media, and I'm about to get in contact with her to see if she might have an extra copy of #2 lying around and/or if I could mail the two comics I have to her for her to sign.

Jonathan has kept up with Chronicle, transitioning it to a web comic. You can click on the links to visit the strip's webpage and Facebook page. The strip isn't his day job, so updates aren't 100% regular, but I recommend giving him a look and a follow.

So that's it for this first installment. I'll begin my Joe Hill collection with the next installment...but which series? Hmm, decisions decisions.



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Deleted Posts

I don't know if I have/had any regular readers of the blog. Going by the post-view numbers, I averaged around 50 views per post. I have no idea who any of you are. Friends? Relatives? Strangers who stumble on to the posts because of the songs I attach?

Anyways, if you're a regular, you might notice that almost all of the posts from this year were deleted. A couple of weeks ago a friend messaged me on Facebook and said she had stumbled across it and thought I should take a second look at what I had written, especially the more recent posts. So I did, and wow. Two things came to mind: 1) I sounded like an absolutely bat-shit crazy mother fucker, and 2) I threw a really great woman under the bus. I don't like deleting things I write (I DID save everything to a Word document so I can keep it all to myself), but I felt this was necessary. I did this for two reasons. The first was pure selfishness. Like I said, I sounded bat-shit crazy. Sure, it wasn't there in the first post, but you could actually see the evolution of it. My little breakdown was there for all the world to see. Eventually I'll want to be in a relationship again, and I swear if that person were to ever come across my craziness, that'd be it, game over, man.

The second reason was because I HAD thrown someone under a bus. I said some hurtful things because I was hurting. It wasn't right, and I was ashamed. The one post that I kept up because I thought I was being pretty insightful about myself, I edited it a smidge...no names.

So, what have I learned? If I want to write down feelings and shit, buy a fucking journal. Also, keep posting about my comic collection. That damned Locke & Key post has almost 400 views. That's huge for me. There's an update for that in the future.

Still throwing out videos and lyrics, I felt this was appropriate.




When I was young, I was so full of fear
I hid behind anger, held back the tears
It was me against the world, I was sure that I'd win
The world fought back, punished me for my sins
I felt so alone, so insecure, I blamed you instead and made sure I was heard
And they tried to warn me of my evil ways
But I couldn't hear what they had to say 

I was wrong, self destruction's got me again
I was wrong, I realized now that I was wrong
And I think about my loves, well I've had a few
I'm sorry that I hurt them, did I hurt you too
I took what I wanted, put my heart on the shelf
How can ya love me when you don't love yourself

It was me against the world, I was sure that I'd win
The world fought back, punished me for my sins
And they tried to warn me of my evil ways
But I couldn't hear what they had to say

I was wrong, self destruction's got me again
I was wrong, I realized now that I was wrong
And I think about my loves, well I've had a few
I'm sorry that I hurt them, did I hurt you too
I took what I wanted, put my heart on the shelf
How can ya love me when you don't love yourself

I grew up fast, I grew up hard
something was wrong from the very start
I was fighting everybody, I was fighting everything
but the only one that I hurt was me
I got society's blood running down my face
Somebody help me get outta this place
How could someone's bad luck last so long
until I realized that I was wrong

I was wrong, self destruction's got me again
I was wrong, I realized now that I was wrong
And I think about my loves, well I've had a few
I'm sorry that I hurt them, did I hurt you too
I took what I wanted, put my heart on the shelf
How can ya love me when you don't love yourself

I was wrong, self destruction's got me again
I was wrong, I realized now that I was wrong
And I think about my loves, well I've had a few
I'm sorry that I hurt them, did I hurt you too
I took what I wanted, put my heart on the shelf
How can ya love me when you don't love yourself

Friday, February 12, 2016

Bright Side

We shared a lot of great music. I get to see Deadpool opening weekend. Drowning my sorrows at the Flying Saucer. When the grief passes I hope we can still be good friends...it started out that way. I realized that I can in fact love someone again, and that was a big question I had after my divorce. The romance within me did not in fact die. And as long as she's happy with herself and her life, that's really all that matters to me.

Edited to add: I've also got some fucking awesome friends.

Edited again to add: Due to the stress I've been under the past month or so I've lost a pretty decent amount of weight, and I really look better than I have in a long time. Double-edged sword?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Mindset Reset

I did a LOT of thinking yesterday. A LOT. About who I am, what I'm doing, what I want, what kind of relationship I want, how I handle relationships, and who I want to have a relationship with.

I thought I had spent the last six years recovering from my separation and divorce by finding out who I am, but I've learned that what I've done is just packed that relationship person away until it was time to bring him out again. I jumped into this thing with both feet. When it started, I thought we were on the same page. After a couple weeks it was evident we were moving TOO fast, and she wanted to slow it down. That was fine with me, but I didn't really know how to do that. I had already fallen pretty damn hard for her, so it was difficult to apply my brakes and slow it down. How do you do that when you have such strong feelings for someone?

I didn't see what my sad attempts at slowing down were doing to her. In my blindness/hubris/selfishness, I thought her issues were only in dealing with her ex-boyfriend. I thought her leftover feelings combined with him stringing her along were causing her stress. I didn't see that, although I was adamant about not pressuring her into making any decisions, my constant BEING THERE through texting and social media was doing what I didn't want to do. I was pressuring her.

Earlier this week was her breaking point, I think, and it took that for me to fully see that, yep, my gung-ho attitude about this was as much of a factor as his lackadaisical attitude. Hence my deep introspection yesterday.

My life is not defined by my relationships. My relationships should ENHANCE my life. My relationship with my kids, my parents and sister, the rest of my family, my friends, and those I fall in love with...these relationships cannot control who I am, what I do, or how I think. They are here to build me up and fill me with love, but I'll never be completely full if I don't love myself. Yeah, that sounds way to New Agey for me, but it's true.

I let my kids get under my skin too much without stepping back and really appreciating them for who they are and how they're growing up. #1 is so fucking smart. I was a very above-average student, but I didn't apply myself, so I skated through everything. #1 soaks up knowledge wherever he can. He DOES things. He's got more going on as a 6th grader than I did in middle school and high school combined. He plays the saxophone because I did, and with less than a year under his belt, he's better than I was at his age (and I was pretty darn good). He's got a really good group of friends, and he loves being a Boy Scout. I fucking admire him so much. But he's also incredibly emotional, and I think that's what I see of me in him the most. He's quick to anger, especially at his younger brother (which, to be honest, is justified a lot of the time). Out of the three of them, he's the only who will ever remember his mom and me married. He had to grow up very fast when she left the four of us, and it just makes me sad.

#2 is so much a girl. She likes make-up (although I don't let her wear any yet), dresses, Barbies, babies...yeah, very much a girly girl. And that's not something I pushed, but she chose it, and I'm okay with it. I tried to get her into nerd stuff via comics and TV and movies, but she's not into it and that's fine...she's blazing her own path. She tried gymnastics and cheerleading for a few years, but that started to bore her. She's always loved music (there's my girl!) and singing, and after she showed me a song she wrote (holy shit, it was amazing for 9-year-old), her mom and I decided it was time to talk about music lessons. But we left it up to her. She was currently in Girl Scouts, and she ended up choosing singing and piano lessons over that. I cannot wait to she her grow as a musician. She has so much talent and heart that I just know she's going to do incredible things.

#3 probably has the most of me in him. He's energetic, but he also loves to spend tons of time on the computer (closely monitored by me, don't worry). He's not nerdy like me (that's all #1), but he's also crazy smart...but he doesn't do anything with it. He does his work, does it well, but beyond that he doesn't enjoy learning like his older brother does. He also changes gears pretty quickly. He did "ninja" class for almost a year before getting bored. He plays basketball, but he really has no idea what he's doing. He's in Cub Scouts, but I think he goes just to see friends and go camping every now and then. His emotions are always just under the surface too, but it's more about frustration and sadness as opposed to #1's anger. He tears up easily if he gets yelled at (which I tend to do more often than I should. That said, he is also the sweetest boy. He wakes up every morning with a smile. He's quick with hugs and kisses on the cheek. He is probably biggest headache causer out of the three, but sometimes he's the easiest to forgive.

Why do I let these wonderful kids get under my skin so much? Why do I get exasperated with them? They make my life better just by being here. When they're with their mother every other weekend, my house is quiet and still and lonely. I really don't know what to do with myself when they're gone. Then along comes *****.

***** is also a single mother with kids Bobby's age. Somehow, miraculously, when we started going out we discovered our kid-free weekends synced up. How perfect was that? The last two weekends we didn't see each other, though, and I kind of spiraled into a "what am I going to do with myself?" mode. There was smoking, and there was drinking. Looking back, I can see that my relationships with my kids and with ***** were dictating my attitude and feelings. They weren't there, so I couldn't be happy? Bullshit. That's just bullshit, and I'm just now realizing that. I cherish every second (despite headaches and tantrums and sibling spats) with these people I love, but just because they're not around doesn't mean I still can't be happy. I have friends. I have interests. I have hobbies. I have a house that has been neglected for far too long. I have OTHER THINGS.

My life is not defined by my relationships. ***** and I have been talking constantly since the beginning of October. For better or worse, that's when the relationship really started. But in that time, we've seen each other a total of five times. Only. Five. Times. Five times does not a boyfriend/girlfriend make. SHE knows that...it's just taken me this long to figure it out.

I'm still in love with her. I won't say that won't ever change, because things happen and it's very early in this messed up little relationship we have. But being in love with someone shouldn't make you or them sad. I honestly can't say with any certainty that we'll make it. I'd like to think we will, but as with all relationships, if it does end I know I'll be taking good things away from our time together, things about me that I've realized and can put to use (which I'm already starting to do) in my life and, hopefully, in future relationships. But right now I'm going to do whatever I can to make this work, and right now that means giving her space. I think I spoke on that in yesterday's post. I was pretty successful yesterday I think, and I hope it wasn't the cigarettes helping with that, because I crumpled up the remainder of my pack and threw them in a dumpster this morning (I did save ONE to have before starting work...hopefully my last one ever) so I can't rely on their calming effects anymore. They were just a crutch anyways. As far as communication with her goes, I'm mostly following her lead. I'll text in the morning with a "Have a good day!" and possibly send out a Snapchat if we're still trying to keep our streak going, but daytime contact will be instigated by her only (my decision). I'll text in the evening to see how her day was, and if she wants to continue texting or talking once the kids are in bed, then that's her call. If she doesn't text or Snapchat during the day, then that's no problem. She's got stuff to do, I've got stuff to do...and we've only been out five times. Her frequency of contact does not determine my happiness or who I am.

This was a pretty big revelation for me, so I guess this post ended up being a lot longer than I originally intended. If you read the whole thing, I appreciate it. If you're coming here for pop culture reviews, I apologize for the abrupt change in posting topics, all this is very therapeutic for me, and obviously it's helping. I wonder who IS reading this, though? Do I know you? If not, how did you stumble upon this? I know ***** used to read it, at least when I was going through my divorce and posting links on my Facebook page. She hasn't mentioned anything about it, so probably not?

Time to work. Thank you all for reading. Here's my favorite Paramore song, as a treat (lyrics copied below the video with the relevant ones bolded).



When I was younger
I saw my daddy cry
And curse at the wind
He broke his own heart
And I watched
As he tried to reassemble it

And my momma swore
That she would never let herself forget
And that was the day that I promised
I'd never sing of love
If it does not exist, but darlin'

You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception

Maybe I know, somewhere
Deep in my soul
That love never lasts
And we've got to find other ways
To make it alone
But keep a straight face

And I've always lived like this
Keeping a comfortable, distance
And up until now
I had sworn to myself that I'm content
With loneliness

Because none of it was ever worth the risk

But, you are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception

I've got a tight grip on reality
But I can't let go of what's in front of me here
I know your leaving in the morning, when you wake up
Leave me with some kind of proof it's not a dream, oh

You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception

You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception
You are, the only exception

And I'm on my way to believing
Oh, and I'm on my way to believing.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Locke & Key Obsession

I'm quitting new comics. This Wednesday, when I go to Rick's Comic City in Donelson to get my last batch of new comics, I'm going to cancel my hold box. I don't know if my dwindling enjoyment is just a thing (I've quit a few other times in the past) or a product of the re-emerging depression, but I'm okay with it. I'm pretty excited about the money I'm going to save. I'm also attempting to sell my collection. I've done that one other time, and I learned some things from it. Primarily I learned that if I REALLY like a series or character, I shouldn't get rid of it.

This time I'm keeping a few boxes, and I'm going to be slowly adding to that collection. Starman is my guy. The James Robinson series in the '90s was AMAZING. So I'm keeping all of those books. But this post isn't about Starman, it's about Locke & Key.

The only reason I started reading Locke & Key was because I'm a huge Stephen King fan, and Joe Hill is King's son. At the time of its release, though, I was at the tail-end of my previous no-buying kick. I was, however, reading them online. I was hooked after the first one. When I got back into buying, this series of mini-series was the first thing I added to my pull list.

Over the past year or so, I've worked hard to track down the issues I've missed, along with variant covers, trade paperbacks, hardcover collections, special collected volumes, and collectibles. This post is just a way for me to show off something I'm really proud of.

Bleeding Cool #5, Doctor Who Classics #2, IDW 10th Anniversary Comic, and IDW Coming Attractions 2009 #1 -
These contain either short stories or previews of one of the L&K minis. I think all I need is the retro variant cover to Doctor Who Classics #2.

This is the first mini series. The only regular issue I'm missing is #1, and apparently there's a foil variant out there, but I've never seen it. I'm also missing the Deluxe Hardcover, the Signed Limited Hardcover, the slipcase for the hardcover set (I bought all my HCs separately through Amazon), and the 2008 SDCC Slipcase sets (three of them). 
So, these pictures are going in alphabetical order, not publication order. These are ALL the issues of L&K: Alpha #1. I'm not missing a single thing.

These are the Wondercon variants for Alpha #1 and 2.
These are all the 2nd issue of Alpha. Again, I'm not missing an issue.

This is the complete Clockworks mini. The only issue I'm missing is the variant for issue #2.

This is Crown of Shadows. I'm only missing the variant covers for issues #3, 5, and 6. As a neat little aside, I've got a coworker who custom makes crowns and other items. I've shown her some pictures of the Crown of Shadows, and she's going to make me one, and hopefully I'll even be able to put the Shadow Key in it! I can't wait to post a picture when she's finished. Why don't you check out her Etsy page?

These are two one-shots: Grindhouse on top and Guide to the Known Keys on bottom. I'm missing two variant covers for GttKK, the convention variant and one with a red bar instead of a blue one in the top left corner. I think it's a 2nd print?

Here we have Head Games. I've got all the issues and variants, I'm just missing the signed limited hardcover, some black label hardcovers (I'll address those a little later), a blue label hardcover, and the Subterranean Press hardcover with dust jacket.

This is Keys to the Kingdom. I'm missing the variant covers for issues #2, 3, 4, and 5. 

This is Omega. Looks like I've got all of these. :D

These are the Welcome to Lovecraft specials that reprinted the very first issue. I just got the half-key variant that's on the far right a few weeks ago.


Here's the Red Label hardcover for Head Games.


This is one of the Black Label hardcovers for Head Games. Mine includes an original sketch by Langdon Foss.

This is Gabriel Rodriguez's Artist's Edition Portfolio. There are eight (I think) prints inside of uninked pages from throughout the series. They're pretty neat to look at.

This is the IDW 10th Anniversary Slipcase. I know I already have the comic that comes with it, but I also wanted the book. Maybe one day I'll eventually open it and read it. :D

These are the three oversized hardcover collections of the first three mini-series. I don't know if IDW is planning on releasing the rest of the series like this.

Here we've got the oversized treasury edition of Crown of Shadows.

This is the first volume of the Master Edition. Each volume will collect two of the mini-series. The one on the right is the convention variant. I've already got Volume 2 preordered from Amazon.

There's a coloring book! I bought two of these, one to keep and one to actually color. It's hella detailed and kind of a bitch.


This is a slipcase that collects all of the standard variants for L&K: Alpha #2.
Deluxed Edition hardcovers for Welcome to Lovecraft and Head Games.

All of the standard hardcover volumes, as well as the convention exclusives for volumes 4 and 6 and the covers collection.

Trade paperback slipcase.

Odds and ends: L&K the Game as well as an extra key card that was a convention exclusive, some temporary tattoos, a bookmark advertising the audio book (bookmark for an audio book? whatevs), and a L&K themed weekend pass for the 2012 C2E2 convention.

The aforementioned audio book.

Framed poster for Crown of Shadows.

Framed poster for the audio book. 

And finally, I'm pretty sure these are ALL of the keys produced by Israel Skelton and his Skelton Crew Studio. They've got some other stuff I'd eventually like to have, like a bust of Bode and some jewelry. Yeah, I'll even collect jewelry...hence calling it an obsession.