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6

Introduction
This issue will feature something new for Just Newsprint. Instead of just text, it will now feature some pictures to accompany the articles. So you can now get a better idea of what I am ranting about. It took awhile, but I have learned how to run my scanner. Alot of trial and error, but I am confident in my scanning abilities. I am sure many of you are saying "Big deal", but for me it is. One more step towards complete control of my web page. Enough rambling, here is another installment, out a bit late, but hopefully you will find it worth the wait!

Top Ten List!
Once again by popular demand (OK, I only received a dozen emails last month asking for more, but it is a start), I am doing another top ten list. This month I look at the often overshadowed sidekick. You know the boy or other guy who helps the lead character but doesn't get all the glory. So here is a list of my top ten favorite sidekicks. See if you agree.

10. Easy Company-As good as Sgt Rock was, it was Easy Co. that stole the show. Would the book have the same appeal without Ice Cream Soldier, Wee Willie, Bulldozer, Jackie Johnson and others. They really added the character to the book.
9. Hawkwoman-She is probably more of an equal than a sidekick, but I will put her here anyway. The wife of Hawkman, she stood by his side through countless battles and proved herself on many occasions. Yet it was always Hawkman that was invited to join the JLA and such and not her. A blatant example of sexism in comics! If Hawkman was more of a man, he would have made sure she was always with him.
8. Mary Marvel-The first female to make the list. While she was second to Captain Marvel in the Marvel family, she was first in our hearts. This was one of the examples of a female hero done right. I was happy to see her return in the new "Power of Shazam" series.
7. Jughead-One of the most known sidekicks and not one that comes to mind. Sure they were normal youths, but for awhile there, they were superheroes (remember Archie as Pureheart the Powerful and Jughead as Captain Hero). I know this may be a bit of a stretch, but it is my list.
6. Bucky-Captain America's first sidekick and probably my least favorite. He had Robin written all over him, even down to his mask. While he was a good fighter and proved himself, I think it wasn't the brightest move to bring a child into a war.
5. Donald Duck-He was probably the most unwilling of sidekicks, but he is one of the best. Forced by the need of money, he followed his rich Uncle Scrooge all over the world in search of treasure. They faced some challenges that would seem more appropriate for the super powered heroes, but they always found a way to overcome the odds.
4. Green Arrow-Another guy who would kick your teeth in for calling him a sidekick, but a good run from Green Lantern #76-#122, they were partners. While many would debate if Green Arrow was actually a sidekick, I think he was due to the fact that it was Green Lantern's book and GL was by far the more powerful guy.
3. Falcon-He may have been Cap's sidekick, but I dare you to tell him that. This was one guy who could carry himself, but was man enough to let Captain America be the lead guy. Truly a team player!
2. Rick Jones-Sidekick to the Marvel Universe would be an accurate moniker for this guy. He not only ran with Captain America, but also the Hulk, the Avengers and shared a body with Captain Marvel. Now that is one guy that gets around!
1. Robin-The famous Boy Wonder has to be the most famous and one of the coolest of all sidekicks. Sure he runs around in green underwear, but you have to be cool to pull that off. Don't believe me? Try wearing that as you go to work and see how much respect your co-workers give you. While there have been many incarnations of Robin, Dick Grayson will always be the one and only Robin to me.
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Look it's Superman...no Batman...no Tigerman!    Tigerman?????????
In my searches, I came across a unique title. One of the old Atlas comics, Tigerman, captured my curiosity. After reading the first issue, I wasn't very impressed with the book. It was below average at best. But I was waiting in the car and had nowhere to go, so I read the next two issues. I must say that it did improve. The main improvement was the introduction of a nemesis, the Leopard. Oh yeah and the additions of Gerry Conway and Steve Ditko.

While the character is probably one of the goofiest looking (he wears a costume fashioned from a tiger skin, complete with the claws), he does have some redeeming features. There is some pretty decent characterization that is built and they begin to build some supporting characters. But unfortunately the rug is pulled out before he really has a chance. Only three issues were made of this reluctant hero who was finally showing some potential when his series ended.

It may not be the best series you ever read (far from it), but if you ever see them cheap at a comic show or shop, pick them up and give them a look. Maybe you will also find that the best was yet to come.
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A Little Story Thrown in all that Action
One of the things I always liked about the Master of Kung Fu series is they didn't try to make it something more than it was. They knew the readers wanted action in heaping doses and they delivered. If there was ever a series that didn't bog itself down with too much plot or characterization, it was this one.

I just read an issue of Master of Kung Fu, #22, and it was the perfect example of the action packed story you came to expect. Shang Chi stops into a Chinese restaurant for a meal. After eating it, he reads his fortune from the cookie. It say "A man very close to you will seek your death, Shang Chi". A personalized fortune cookie! Once he reads this, he is quickly attacked by streams of angry men out to kill him. Over the next six pages, he beats the daylights out of them at the restaurant. He then takes a few pages off to switch locations before the action ensues. Just like the Jackie Chan films of today, the plot is limited to keep the story moving, but not getting in the way of what we all bought the book for, ACTION!

Some may frown on a book like this, but I find it a refreshing break from some of the overly complicated books. Get done reading some Sandman or Hellblazer and it is nice to throw in a pure action book like this to keep you from getting too serious. Comics were meant to be fun and they don't come much funnier than this one!

Classic Commercial of the Month
This was one ad that has always disturbed me. Not because it featured some scary monster or anything, but the outcome of it. It is an ad for people that want to buy imported birds for hunting. It boasts selling falcons, hawks, eagles and owls. You may not think this is so bad, but think about a company selling potentially dangerous animals in a comic book.

Sure Falconry has been around for centuries and was considered a sport of the wealthy, but thinking that little Johnny could buy an eagle through the mail just doesn't sit well with me. Not only is it cruel to the animal, but little Johnny could be seriously injured or even killed. We aren't talking about lovebirds here, but animals that are on this Earth to kill other animals. It is what they do best and is in their nature. Think they are going to take well to some moronic kid trying to get them to fetch for him? It could get real ugly.

While Sea Monkeys and Hermit crabs are pretty harmless stuff, I shudder to think there was a time when monkeys and birds of prey were being sold to unsuspecting kids. It is enough to make you question the judgment of the comic book for allowing such ads.

Do Comics Need a New Format?
One thing that I think is holding back comics is the format that they are in. While the paper format that has been the norm for so long may actually be the weight that is holding down the comic industry. I know I will get alot of angry letters for suggesting this, but I feel that comics need to change and pretty soon. Otherwise we may see comics go the way of pulp novels.

The biggest problem with printing comics on paper is that the cost has gone up dramatically and there is no indication that things will ever get better. This has forced comics to raise prices and change it from an affordable means of entertainment to a not so attractive form of entertainment. When comics were under a buck, they could make a claim that they were affordable, but now with the average price being $2.50, that is a claim that is no longer valid. Throw in the fact that the size has shrunk and you have a package that doesn't make much sense financially. The main problem with comics as opposed to most mediums is they don't sell enough copies to attract the advertising that most other print mediums use to pay the bills. Comics are in a Catch 22, if they raise prices to make more money for their books, they lose readership and it hurts their chances of getting more advertisers and charging more for advertising. But if they lower price to try and increase readership in an attempt to get more advertisers, they will become unprofitable and if the advertisers don't appear, they are doomed. So comics are stuck.

The worst thing is that comics will only get more and more expensive. As readership continues to dwindle, the cover price will have to be raised to make up for the lost sales, which will result in more lost sales. It really is a downward spiral. So I think that comics need to abandon the paper format and look for a new alternative. One option may be the internet. Instead of actual paper comics, they could have them available for download from a pay site. You would pay a buck or something to download a version of a comic. Or for a little more, you could get a CD version sent to you. Instead of just a comic, you could also get a trivia game or some other game, biographies on the creators of the book, history of the characters and more. There could be sound, animation and other options. This could make comics more of a interactive experience and could open it up to whole new audiences. By eliminating the need to print comics, you cut out the most expensive part of a comic.

While this may sound pretty far fetched, it really isn't. What it does is returns comics to readers and eliminates the investor. Since there isn't really a paper version of the book, they will have no real value other than their entertainment value. I guess if people really wanted to keep investors in, they could always make limited edition CDs with different covers or something.

You may say that this would turn off the traditional comic reader and you would chance losing them. Well, let us look at the numbers. Would you rather chance losing less than 1% of the population in the USA or do something to try and sell to the other 99% of the population? People have shown that they don't want comics in their regular format. Comics are obsolete and in danger of either disappearing as an industry or becoming a very expensive niche market. The industry needs to do something to get an infusion of new blood into the industry. This just may be the answer or it may not.

To wrap this up, I feel that comics are being ignored by the general populace who have shown they are interested in the movies and cartoons, but have no interest in the comics. This shows me that it isn't the characters, but the format. Today's youth want something more interactive and flashy to spend their disposable income on and comics are not it. Comics are losing the battle to video games, internet, movies and all the other entertainment options that are available to youths. If you cannot beat these mediums, maybe you ought to find a way to work with them.

Two for Three
How many companies can boast that they produced three comics and two of them were well received? I can only think of one company that can make such a boast. That would be the short lived Capital Comics. For the readers who are not familiar with them, let me tell you their three books. I think you may have heard of at least two of these; Nexus, Badger and Whisper.

Capital Comics started back in 1981, the collaboration of artist Steve Rude and writer Mike Baron. They began by publishing a black and white, magazine sized comic of Nexus. It later came out in comic format. In 1983 they added Badger and Whisper. Soon afterwards, they decided to join up with First Publishing. This move freed them from the administrative responsibilities and allowed them to instead focus their energies on creating great comics. And what great comics they did create!

Nexus ran for 80 issues before ending. It has since returned in mini-series format at Dark Horse, who also publishes Badger in a similar format. In a surprise move, Dark Horse returned the rights of the books back to their creators, something the big two would never do.

Whisper, while a good book, never was as well received.  She did have over 37 (the highest I remember) issues at First, but she has yet to resurface as the other two have.    The female ninja could fit in well during the bad girl craze, but has been overlooked.

While Capital was only around for a a few short years, their creations still live on. Quite a feat from a small company that most people don't even know about.
(I would like to thank Tom Grozan for pointing out that there were more issues of Whisper than I originally spoke of in the article).

Bargain Basement Comic
This month's bargain basement comic is one we just spoke of, Nexus. This was a book that combined incredible art and great storytelling. For anyone who isn't familiar with the story of Horatio Hellpop, it is about a man who is given almost infinite wisdom in exchange for his services. These services are for him to assassinate some of the cruelest villains in the galaxy. He does use his incredible powers to build and maintain a space station that houses the refugees of space. So he is in constant battle with his conscious.

Nexus sported some of the most beautiful painted covers by Steve Rude and the interior art is also quite gorgeous. This book is worth the low price of admission on the strength of the artwork alone. Lucky for us that the story is as engaging as the artwork and keeps your interest. Mike Baron is at his best here and he has yet to top this. While his Flash run was good and he did some interesting work on Punisher (he should be complimented on trying to bring a story to the Punisher), his Nexus work is still heads and shoulder above the other work.

Now that the series is forgotten by many, it can be easily found in the bargain bins at your local comic store or show. If you have not tried this incredible series, you are missing out on a real treat. I highly advise picking it up, while the industry is down. If this industry ever comes back, books like this will be rediscovered and those cheap prices will not continue.

New Site Coming
One of the changes that will be coming to Tomorrow's Heroes is a whole new look for the site. I have been hard at work, building a new site that is my vision of how this site should be. This is one of the reasons this newsletter is late. I decided to take a few classes on web design in an attempt to create my own web site. While Chris has done a good job, I had my own design in mind and it was hard to get this across to Chris. So I decided to take the necessary steps to be able to do it myself.

The new site will have many similarities of the old site and many new features. Some areas like the "Comics For Sale" section will remain pretty much the same, with only minor modifications. Other areas will be overhauled, like the Marvel Team-Up section. It will be expanded and will also feature a tribute to Marvel Two-in-One. The Colt story will finally be finished and I will be adding all the old newsletters from the comic store.

This newsletter will also keep getting a facelift as you can see by this issue. There will be graphics added and more new features. I hope to make it as popular as its sister newsletter, Retrogaming Times.

The new site should hopefully be up by Thanksgiving, possibly earlier. I am in the works to get it as finished as possible. You don't realize how much work it takes to set up all the links. It has been a learning experience for me, but one I have enjoyed. Now I will only have myself to credit or blame for the state of the website.

TOMORROW'S HEROES CLASSIC ARTICLE!
(This article was originally done during the Heroes World days. But it still applies to Diamond Comics Distributors, you just have to cut the times in half. Editor Note:I have not dealt with Diamond in six months, but last time I did, they weren't very good and I doubt much has changed).

One of the major complaints about dealing with Heroes World is the extended time spent on hold trying to get through to a service representative. Being a store, we can attest to it. But most customers have no comprehension of how long a wait it is. So we simplified it by testing the speediness of Heroes World against some of the all-time longest rock songs. Keith and myself did extensive testing to get the best results. You will note that the time it takes to get through varies. Keith also wants it stated that he doesn't own any of this music and most of it was borrowed. Here are the results. 

August 2nd, 10:30 A.M.
1. LYNRD SKYNRD "Freebird"-This is the most famous of the bathroom songs (songs DJ's play when they need to use the facilities).  This song was not only beaten, but we were able to play the song three times before we finally got through.

August 3rd, 2:05 P.M.
2. LED ZEPPELIN "Stairway to Heaven"-Heroes World was really slow today, because we played this song five times before getting through.  This led to extended therapy for both of us.

August 9th, 12:15 P.M.
3. IRON BUTTERFLY "Inagodavida"-We found the extended version and started the battle. Either this song is too long, or Heroes World was doing better because we didn't even make through the second play before we were served.

August 10th, 4:45 P.M.
4. JETHRO TULL "Thick as a Brick"-This one song album finally broke Heroes World streak. It was close, as there were only a few minutes remaining when we finally talked to a real person.

Another way to look at this is that in the average time it take to get through, you can listen to about twenty five Ramones songs.

Conclusion
Well another issue wraps up. I would like to thank all the people who have taken time to write and give their comments on the past issues. I read everyone and greatly appreciate them. If there is something you would like to see added or removed, please let me know. I do listen and am open to suggestions. Until next month, keep reading those comics and let them out of their bags once in awhile. It gets mighty stuffy in there.

-Tom Zjaba