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Issue Nine


Table of Contents
01 Introduction
02 Some People are Just Crazy
03 My Pet Peeve
04 He is the Son of Thunder
05 Robots and Comics
06 Top Ten List
07 Ad of the Month
08 What's New on the Web Site?
09 Is Aunt May Really Back?
10 Creating Heroes the Rob Leifeld Way
11 Question of the Month
12 Conclusion

Introduction
We are slowly nearing our tenth issue of Just Newsprint! There has been a slow, but moderate growth in the size of the newsletter. The readership is going up each issue and so is the mail! It seems that there is a small, but growing population of comic fans who want nothing more than to read comics. They are tired of the gimmicks, tired of the limited edition books, tired of comics series starting over and over again. They want something that the industry doesn't offer anymore, quality stories with quality art at a fair price. In this new era of comics, you either get a good story or good art. Usually you get neither. When a book comes along that offers both, then you pay through the nose for it. Kingdom Come was a prime example. You had a great story and tremendous art and it was expensive! So many of them thanked me for a newsletter that dealt with fun and affordable comics. Not the ones that everyone is asking for, but the ones that you can buy with your pocket change. So here is another offering of the no frills newsletter for people who read their comics and think investments should be made with a broker and not a comic dealer.

 Some People are Just Crazy
I still remember the day when I received a huge letter in the mail at my old comic store. This letter was many, many pages long and it was all about how Marvel was stealing ideas from DC Comics. This person (I cannot remember his name) went on and on and on about each character, story, etc... that Marvel had done and was similar to one DC had done. There were literally thousands of examples. Sometimes I wish I had kept it as it would have made for some humorous reading on the net.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I responded to the letter. I asked him if he ever considered how many ideas that DC may have borrowed from Marvel and how many of the heroes and stories were very similar to stuff done in mythology and in modern fiction. There are only so many different story possibilities and everything has some similarities to other previous work, whether intentional or not. Of course, I never received a response. I guess I really didn't expect one as most people who put this much effort into something are usually very narrow minded. Well, the moral of the story is quite simply to enjoy your comics and don't take them this serious. Once you lose sight of their original intent, then they will cease to be a source of entertainment.

My Pet Peeve
I attend alot of comic shows. If there is a comic show in the area, odds are I will be there. Well, when I attend these shows, there is one thing that really irks me. That is dealers who don't price their comics. You start looking through the boxes and come across a book you want and ask the dealer how much. What do they do? They pull out the latest price guide and quote you a price. Once I see the price guide come out, I politely put the book back and say "not interested". Most of the time, the dealer could care less. But one time I had a dealer yell at me. He said "Why did you bother asking for the price if you aren't going to buy it?". I responded "Maybe if you priced your comics, then I wouldn't have to bother you". In an angry response he came back with a less than clever retort "What do you want me to do, give my books away?" Trying to keep from laughing (it is hard to make your point if you are cracking up), I responded "If I wanted to pay full retail, I could go to a comic store and bypass the entrance fee of a comic show. I come here to look for bargains and obviously there are none at this table". I then walked away as he stood there fuming, but speechless.

I don't have a problem with dealers charging the full value for their comics, but I cannot stand dealers who will not price their books. When I go to a show, my time is valuable and I want to get around as quickly as possible. I like to comparison shop and look for the best prices. Since most shows around here have no guests, the only reasons to pay the admission price is for the selection and hopefully the deals. There are numerous dealers who take time to price their books. But occasionally there is the greedy, for lack of a better term, dealer who will not price them. They fear that they may sell a book for below guide price. They may actually give a person a deal. Perish the thought!

Well, this policy of not pricing comics has reached the internet. I have found a few comic sites that have a list of comics on the site and no price. They will ask for you to email them to inquire a price. Maybe it is me, but who would buy from someone who will not give you the price up front? I don't expect everyone to be as crazy as me and have 50,000 books listed and priced on their site, but expecting the books you have listed to be priced seems reasonable to me. I did talk to one dealer who did this and his reasoning was that he didn't want people to go around and comparison shop. He said this stopped people from finding better deals. I asked him what he did when they requested a price. He said he would send it to them. I then asked him if he thought they wouldn't then go and comparison shop after they received the price. Of course he had no response to this. Gotta love some people's logic.

One thing that people will learn is that the internet is not the promised land it is made out to be. Just because you put a site up, does not mean people will come to it. Just because you put up products does not guarantee sales. Unless you are selling a one of a kind item or something very, very rare, then you are in competition with other stores on the net. Just like at a comic show, people are going to comparison shop and unless you offer some other service that noone else does, the people are going to generally buy from the lowest priced dealer. I hear over and over again how people tell tales about how you can put stuff up on the internet at whatever price you want and people will buy it. Visions of getting full book or better stream through their heads, much like the poor and destitute immigrants viewed America as a country with the streets paved of gold. But the reality is that is not the case. If anything, the internet is a buying paradise for comic fans. You have tons of stores to choose from and new ones sprouting up every day. Books that you could never find in the past are now only a few clicks away. If anything, the internet should be a place to find affordable comics. With the very minimal overhead, it is a great place for someone to setup shop and they have an unlimited amount of people to sell to. Every day there are approximately 50,000 new people signing onto the internet in the USA alone. If the number of comic fans is at 1%, that means there are 500 new comic fans entering the internet every day. Over the course of a year, that is 185,000 new comic fans on the internet. That is more people than most comics stores see in a given year, in most cases alot more.

Now that I did my best Rosanna Danna impression and got way off the subject, I will wrap this up. Quite simply, there are alot of competition for your dollar on the internet and at shows. I feel that you should be selective in your purchases and demand more from dealers. Let them know that just posting a handful of comics on the net is not enough. Let them know you expect quick service, fair prices and frequently updated websites. Remember you have many choices and if one person cannot fulfill your needs, there are many more dealers who are willing to do it. Dealers like myself (you knew a shameless plug was coming :).

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He is the Son of Thunder

If you read that title and thought we were talking about Thor, then you need to read a few more comics. Thor is the god of thunder, not the son. The son of thunder as he is called is Arak. This is one of those interesting concepts that made for an interesting comic book.

Arak was a native American (as they are politically called) who went adrift and was found by the Vikings and taken back to medieval Europe. As they put it in the book "It is the age of darkness, between the fall of Rome and the rise of modern civilization". So you have a native American in the white man's world. This is their first exposure to one such as Arak and he finds the world quite different from the one he has known.
The book is alot like Conan, with Arak being the part of Conan. They are both physical specimens who are stronger and more deadly than the average man. Both their fighting skills are unparalleled and they both live in a world of magic and monsters. To make the stories more interesting, they placed Arak in a world that is teeming with the creatures of myths.

After some adventures, Arak teams up with Valda, a female warrior and Satyricus a Satyr. They end up on pirate ships, in cities and even the Mount Olympus. Arak's main weapon is his hand axe, though he uses a sword and dagger almost as well. As the book goes on, they decide to give Arak a new look and adds a mohawk. Guess they want to keep him fashionable.

Overall, the book is a good blend of action and story. While they aren't deep and involved stories, they are quite enjoyable. There is a good mix of monsters and the writing by Roy Thomas is quite good. If you are a fan of shows like Hercules and Xena or of comics like Conan and Kull, then this would be up your alley. They are quite affordable and can be found at most shows in the bargain bins. We sell them for fifty cents an issue, a low price for good entertainment.

Robots and comics
One of the longest running villains and heroes in comics is robots. From the early days of comics to the modern comics, robots have always played a large part. Most times they are a villain for the heroes to battle. They are usually bent on destroying mankind and controlling the world. Some do it under the command of others and others have either reprogrammed themselves or some action changes their programming.
Most times, robots are given little to no personality. They are cold, emotionless beings with a single objective. Robots like Ultron are there solely for evil. Other robots (and androids as I lump them both together) like Machine Man and Vision are more complex and actually begin to take on personalities as they grow as characters. They show that the robot does not have to be so limited.

Then there is Magnus the Robot Hunter. From the beginning, he was trained by a robot to fight robots who have gone bad. Magnus would go and preach against the dependence on robots. He wanted people to do things for themselves, but they never listened. In the newer series, Jim Shooter wrote a deeper story about the robots uniting to overthrow mankind. They viewed the destruction of a robot as murder. This put a whole new spin on the robot theme as they were given feelings of remorse. This was one step closer to making them almost human.

While robots have come along way from the fifties when stories like "Robotmen of the Lost Planet" made them more one dimensional to the stories of today where some robots like Vision have even gone on to marry a human, there is still a long way to go. I feel that the robot as a character in comics is one who still has alot of possibilities. Who knows, the next popular comic character just may be a robot!

Top Ten Robots in Comics
Well to go with the story above, I decided to dedicate this top ten list to the synthetic life forms that occupy our comics. To make things more interesting, I bypassed robots that were originally conceived in other mediums like television and movies. It would be too easy to list robot and androids like R2D2 and Data. So my robots are the top ones from comics! See how many you agree with and which ones you think were left off. Remember this is just my list, your may differ greatly.

10. Jocasta-This female robot who hung out with the Avengers was a decent character, but one who never was fully explored.
9. Metal Men-A whole group of robots that were each based on a different metal type. A fun little book that was quite enjoyable.
8. Machine Man-From his start in 2001 to his battles with the Incredible Hulk and his own series, this is one robot who never received his just dues. While not a great solo character, he could be a worthwhile asset to a team.
7. Ultron-One of the best villains the Avengers ever faced. Later is showed him linked to Wonderman.
6. Wonderman-Speaking of Wondie, here he is at #6. One of the few characters who died in comics and has stayed dead.
5. Robotman-One of the main characters of the Doom Patrol, he provided leadership and stability to an unstable team. He became even more interesting in the later Grant Morrison issues.  I know that technically he isn't a robot, with the human brain and all, but with a name like Robotman, how can I leave him off the list.
4. Human Torch-The android from the Invaders was a good comrade and someone who would not allow the Nazis to take over the world.
3. Red Tornado-The long time member of the Justice League, he longed to be accepted. With his courage and tornado making ability, he proved himself time and time again.
2. Sentinels-These grim and very large robots are a constant threat to the X-Men and always serve as a worthwhile opponent.
1. Vision-This is one character who has been transformed many times. From a villain to a hero, he became an integral part of the Avengers. Then he married the Scarlet Witch and everything seemed alright. Before you know it, he was turned back to a cold, uncaring being. Poor guy, they just keep messing with him.

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Ad of the Month

This month's ad is one for the book "Powerman and Iron Fist". I picked this one because you have to appreciate a comic that realizes no one is bothering to read it and plead with you to read it. Click on the ad to go to a much larger version. It is quite simple and effective (though it wasn't effective enough to save the series).

What's New on the Web Site?
As is the case, I keep adding more and more to the web site. While I didn't add as much to the comic section as I would have liked to, there were some additions. So here they are:

1. More comic ads-After a hiatus with almost no new ads being added, I have gone into full swing and added a handful. I hope this is just the start of adding more and more in the near future. Look for a "new" animation next to the link to see which ones are the new ones.
2. More Comic Addresses-Last month, I was only up to the letter "E" in the comic addresses for all the comic companies. Well, I have made some more progress as I am now up to the letter "N"! I hope to finish it this month. If you want to see any added that I have missed, please send me the information and I will be glad to add them.

Is Aunt May Really Back?
While I don't keep up with new comics anymore, I do hear stuff occasionally and one of the things I heard is that the recently deceased, Aunt May is back. Is this true? If it is, why can't Marvel leave anyone dead? If there is one character who we really didn't need back, it was Aunt May. I wish they would just leave her dead. How many times must poor Peter grieve his aunt before they lay her to rest for good? This is bordering on cruel.

Marvel, please rethink this and let the poor lady stay dead.   While some characters are too vital to stay dead (AKA: Mr. Fantastic and Dr Doom), Aunt May is not one of them.  She played her role in the development of Peter Parker and Spiderman and her wheat cakes are legendary, but it is time to do the right thing and let her rejoin Uncle Ben in heaven.

Creating Heroes the Rob Leifeld Way!
One of the least asked questions in comics is "How does Rob Leifeld come up with all those heroes and villains?" His endless flow of characters also intrigued us, so we sent out our crack spy, R.U. Serious to investigate. He compiled all the information and we went over it. With this shocking information in hand, we put together this piece aptly titled "How to Create a Superhero in Minutes! Just Like Rob "501" Leifeld." This will surprise all of you who have high regards for this comic phenom (all two of you, if you go by the Youngblood sales). So now you can become the next Rob Leifeld (real high aspirations) and appear on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."

Step 1-CREATING A CHARACTER
When Rob needs another character, he does one of two things; he either consults his Zoo cards or he opens the Dictionary. For our character, we looked through the zoo cards and chose the cow.

Step 2-NAMING THE CHARACTER
Since Cowman would sound dumb (even by Leifeld standards), we pulled out the handy Thesaurus and looked up cattle. After looking over the list of related words, we chose the name bullocks (actually means a castrated bull, but his fans aren't going to bother looking up the word). That isn't enough, we need a better name. We could always stick to the tried and true formula and add either black or blood to the characters name. Well, the "Black Bullocks" sounds dumb and "Blood Bullocks" sounds too painful. We will find a new name, but in comic tradition (Blue Beetle, Red Ronin, Peter Parker, etc...) we will make sure they both start with the same letter. We chose the "Brash Bullock."

Step 3-DESIGNING THE CHARACTER
This may shock you, but we have found out why almost all of Rob's characters look alike. No, it isn't his art style, rather it is a handy device called the "Mighty Men & Monster Maker". With this nifty little device, you just put together a head, body and legs from a variety of different ones. Change on plate and you have a new character. After you figure out which one you want, use colored pencils to trace over him and voila, a character.

Step 4-TOUCH UP
Now go and add those little touches that make your character unique and so they look different enough so no one figures out your secret. Add plenty of meaningless spikes and chains, cause they are so cool. We also added ridiculously long horns (so they would get knocked off if he entered any doorway). Now repeat the process six more times and you have a team comic.

Step 5-ORIGIN
Since Rob doesn't worry too much about it, you shouldn't either. So we made up a list of eleven different origins. All you do is roll two six sided dice (take them out of the Monopoly game) and use the corresponding origin. We even included a sample hero who has used that origin.

ORIGINS
1-Create an original origin.
2-Bitten by a radioactive creature. (Spiderman)
3-Powers bestowed by otherworldly being or is an alien. (Silver Surfer)
4-Born with them (X-Men)
5-Found mystical object that bestowed powers. (Thor)
6-Built armor/device that gives powers. (Iron Man)
7-Stole or borrowed armor/device from other hero/villain. (Crossfire)
8-Government project. (Captain America)
9.Freak accident dealing with chemicals or radiation. (Flash)
10-Magic, voodoo, or other mystical source. (Dr. Strange)
11-Consumed or exposed to special formula. (Lizard)
12-Tragic event forces person to become hero/villain. (Batman)

Well, now you have your next big character. Just waste, err... use your life savings to bring out the book and watch the money come rolling in. See you on the next edition of "Lifestyles of the Poor and Destitute."

Question of the Month
Last month, I actually received a few replies to my question. I received one for the Sandman Seasons of the Mist, two votes for the Watchmen, two votes (not counting mine) for Kingdom Come and one vote for Marvels. Not overwhelming, but some response is better than none. This month's question will hopefully garner a few more responses.

What Comic book character that hasn't had a movie, would you like to see a movie made about them?
                                                     
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I personally would like to see a movie made starring Green Lantern. With the new technology, they could really make the power ring look good and be very creative. Imagine the scenes with the Guardians of OA and some epic battles with Sinestro. This could be a great movie (especially since DC is doing it and doesn't cut corners like Marvel).

Conclusion
Well, this has been the largest issue to date! I am finally getting into a groove and hopefully next issue will be a little bigger. I am still hoping for some submissions and it is a great way to see your name in print. Check back in a month and we will be doing the landmark tenth issue!

 

-Tom Zjaba