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The Simple Comic Newsletter!
Issue #12

Table of Contents
01 Introduction

02 Rubber Stamp Comics
03 Bargain Bin Bonanza
04 What's New on the Web Site?
05 Top Ten List

06 How to Submit and Have a Chance
07 Superteams on a budget
08 Classic Commercial
09 Comics and Video Games
10 Conclusion

Introduction
The first you will notice if you check out the main page of the site is that I finally put a date for this newsletter to come out. Instead of the beginning of the month, I put a concrete date down. I hope this helps to me to keep a schedule. So from here on in, the newsletter will come out on the 10th of every month. I will do my best to keep this schedule.

While there was some positive comments on the theme from last issue, this one will not feature any specific theme. I may try another one next month. Any suggestions for a theme? Feedback is always appreciated and needed.

Rubber Stamp Comics
Like many things of my youth, it was the simple ones that were the most memorable. I remember one summer when I bought a set of Marvel Rubber Stamps at Zayres. There was Spiderman, Human Torch, Iron Man and others. The only problem was the set was only Marvel Super Heroes and was void of villains. For awhile, we would stamp the heroes and draw in captions. But since none of us were very good artists, we couldn't make any believable villains.

Then one day, my friend Johnny, brought a set of new rubber stamps. While they weren't your traditional villains, we used them anyways. So we started what was possibly one of the earliest and weirdest multi-company crossovers ever. We had the Marvel Super Heroes versus Bullwinkle, Rocky and the gang! That's right, there was the battle of Spiderman versus Rocky, Bullwinkle versus the Hulk and Boris and Natasha battling Iron Man and Captain America!

We used to take sheets of paper and break them into panels and then we would stamp the characters and add in backgrounds, sound effects and dialogue. I can still remember one where the Human Torch had to melt Peabody and Sherman's Way Out Machine before they sent Captain America and Spiderman to the Ice Age. Now that was a story!

My greatest regret is that I didn't keep any of these stories. I really wish I did as I think they would be quite humorous. I remember bits and pieces of some of the strange stories the gang made up. While we weren't the best artists, we did have vivid imaginations.

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Bargain Bin Bonanza

This month's bargain bin bonanza is another overlooked series. When we mention horror stories, two images come to mind. The classic horror of the EC comics with their suspense and unexpected endings and the more sophisticated horror of the Vertigo line. But for four decades there was another group of horror title. In fact it was part of a line of horror titles that are for the most part, overlooked. These were the DC horror titles, which included Ghosts, House of Mystery, Unexpected, Weird War and more! While House of Mystery does get some recognition and the issues are pretty lofty in price, the others are quite affordable and sometimes can be found in the bargain bins. The book we are going to look at is Ghosts.

For two decades, Ghosts consistently put out some pretty scary stories. Much in the tradition of the ECs, you had a series of short stories in each issue and there were plenty of unexpected endings. While the lineups aren't exactly a who's who of comics, there were some big names that graced the pages. Golden, Kubert, Infantino and even Wood made appearances in the long running series. But it was the stories that were the central part of the book. Some were based on real life and others were fabrications of someone's imagination. It was this mix of fantasy and reality that kept us coming back.

While they may seem pretty tame to the stuff done by Vertigo today, it is the simplistic charm of them. They didn't need extreme gore and swearing to create horror. These weren't books that you had to hide from the kids like Preacher. These were meant for all ages. Anyone who wanted a good fright and a good time were welcome. They were the kind of books you could share without fear. While that may not seem like much to you, how many of you would want your mother or grandmother reading some of the horror titles of today?

While it is a little early for Halloween, you may want to grab a stack of these at the next show. I have found many for a buck or less and nothing is better on Halloween night than some scary movies and scary comics. Add some cider and popcorn and you have a time that is hard to beat. Just make sure not to read them too late or you may get nightmares.

What's New on the Web Site?
Some overhauls were done to make this a more complete web site. Here are a few of the changes!

1. Related Comics is Huge-It went from a small section to now a very large section! I also added a few more categories, including Independents, War/Western and Fantasy & Sword/Sorcery. So if you are looking for similar titles to ones you collect, you just may find them in the greatly expanded section.

Top Ten List
Once again we put together a list, a list of ten. What will the list of ten be this month? Keep reading and all will be revealed. This month we will look at the top ten books to avoid in the bargain bins.

10. Anything done by Continuity-Two strikes for this company and noone wants to see a third. These are books that even at a quarter don't move.

09. Jontar-Remember this awful independent comic? The first issue was so laden with spelling mistakes that I sent a dictionary to the publisher.

08. Colt #3-Yes, my own title. While the other issues are decent, this one stunk. Alot of things happened like both my artist left to work for the Ninja Turtles, I hired my former girlfriend (a huge mistake) and other things. But I still blame myself as I should have delayed the book until it was done right, instead of trying to make deadline.

07. Lightning Comics-Here is a company that I avoided like the plague and was happy about it. This company was based solely on making limited edition versions of all their books. They tried to capitalize on a fad and put more emphasis on this than the art or stories. Like the fad, they too went away.

06. Mr T & T Force-I remember a few dealers ordering the 50 or 100 copies to get the limited edition versions. I asked them why, when the book would have to be worth a fortune for them to even break even. I was right and there are now stacks of them in the quarter bins.

05. Marvel Heavy Hitters-Add an "s" to hitters and you will know how I feel about this series. Some promise, but the books were terrible. Just another attempt on Marvel to flood the market and drive up their market share.

04. Barkerverse-Marvel once again tried to capitalize on the success of Clive Barker. While some people were calling him the next Stephen King, we all knew he wasn't. Well, they launched a whole lineup of books inspired by him and ended up with a bunch of junk.

03. Steeltown Rockers/US1-Both these books can fall in the same category, Marvel tries to do regular life stories and ends up with a disaster. Both of these were bad, real bad. Guess we should at least give Marvel credit for trying something different. Not!

02. Plasmer-Not only did this book blow chunks and badly, but it also help ruin a good company.  It wasn't enough that Marvel had to subject us to this waste of natural resources, but they had to sue Jim Shooter and Defiant comics because of his Warriors of Plasm.  How any court in the nation could look at the two books and find a case is beyond me.  The Defiant title was well done and original, while the Marvel was unreadable and horrible.   Such a shame because I really liked Defiant and thought they had a bright future.

01. DC Impact-I remember putting a box of these out at my store for people to take for free and they still didn't want them. So I gave them away to kids one year for Halloween and my store got egged. Coincidence? I think not!

 How to Submit and Have a Chance
Chapter Three

Welcome to the final chapter in "How to Submit Your Work". We are going to wrap up this series and give you a checklist to go over before you submit your work. While most of this may seem like common sense, you would be surprised how easily these things can be
overlooked.

Before we go any further, I must tell you that this is probably the worst time to try and break into the industry. Unless you are a major talent, your chances are very slim and getting worse by the day. The reason is that the two big companies, DC and Marvel are trimming back the number of titles. Every title that is cancelled and not replaced is one less chance you have. Fear not, because this is a temporary situation. Like every other business, comics is going through some downsizing and is in a recession. But like any industry that has been around for more than sixty years, the comic industry runs in cycles with peaks and valleys. We are in a valley right now. So be realistic when submitting work. Even if you don't get any offers, the experience will help and maybe you can get some tips on how to improve. Your best bet right now is with a small independent company. IF you get the "Comic Buyer's Guide" and look in the classified section, you can usually find a few companies looking for writers or artists. While a number of these companies will never see the light of day, you can get practice working on a title. This way you can see how you do under a deadline and with a little stress on you. Plus, you can build up your portfolio. Just remember to request to get the originals back and make sure to make copies of your work before sending it out (if you are actually hired).

Here are a checklist for you to go over before you send out work. Clip this and keep it near your work area.

BEFORE YOU SEND OUT YOUR WORK

1. Make sure to type all work.
2. If you are sending artwork, send xerox copies.
3. Make sure to have your name, address and phone number at multiple, easy to find places.
4. Include a self addressed stamped envelope.
5. Make sure to number your pages and keep things in order.
6. Make it look as professional as possible.
7. When sending artwork, use sturdy packaging material.
8. Make sure to use exact postage.
9. Include a resume.
10. Whenever possible, find out the name of the person you are sending to and use it!

 Superteams on a Budget
If you are like me, you really love super team comics. There is just something about a bunch of heroes coming together that makes a great book. When done right, it is something to behold. But one problem with most superhero teams is they have been around forever and collecting their books is quite costly. Titles like the Fantastic Four, Avengers, JLA and X-Men are not cheap. Sure you can find some issues for low prices, but for the most part you are going to spend a bundle. If you are one who wants to get all the issues, then you may need to take out a serious bank loan to do that.

But fear not, as there are many superhero teams that are still good, yet will not put you in hock to collect them. So I will look at some of the other teams, the ones that are alot more affordable, yet still give plenty of bang for the buck!

1. New Teen Titans-While the original series will cost you some serious scratch, the new series is a whole lot more affordable, and a much better read. While these were the second hottest series to the X-Men during the 1980's, they have since slowed down considerably and almost all the issues can be found in bargain bins.

The team-up of George Perez and Marv Wolfman was a magical one and during their run, you saw some of the best art and stories in comics. The characters were not just there to fight evil doers, but they also were given personalities and fleshed out. Dick Grayson's transformation from Robin to Nightwing and his relationship with Starfire were memorable. Jericho's development of a character and comic's first character that healed instead of injuring, Raven, made for some interesting stories. Then there was the comedy relief of Changeling and Cyborg to keep things light. Add in Wonder Girl who grew up and even got married (and not to a superhero, a novel twist in its own right). These books were and still are great! Don't let the low price fool you, you are getting some serious bargains here.

2. Batman & the Outsiders-This often overlooked book (except on my site, where I cannot keep them in stock) was a very good series. It started as Batman's team and then as he left, it grew on its own and showed that it had alot of potential. While it floundered some at the end, the first 20 issues are great!

One of the best parts of the book was watching some rookie heroes develop under the tutelage of Batman and Metamorpho. These two were there to draw the reader in with their familiarity and to serve as mentors for the young crew. But it was the rookies that made the book. Katana, Geoforce and Halo were spectacular! Each had a past that we were eager to discover. Each had problems they had to overcome. We didn't just read about them, we grew with them. It was really quite enjoyable to be there at the start of this series.

3. Alpha Flight-While John Byrne started the series, it really had its best run in the later series. This was another under appreciated series (except once again at my web site where we sell alot of them). They started as a spin-off of the X-Men, where they made their debut in issues #120 & #121. But they soon found their own identity with Sasquatch, Puck, Northstar, Aurora, Snowbird, Marrina, Shaman and Guardian who later died only to have a woman take over his name.

The sad thing is that most people only remember a few issues of the series, the Snowbird all white issue, the Death of Guardian in issue #12 and #106 where Northstar comes out of the closet and admits he is gay. That is too bad as there are many great issues in-between and unless you take the time to read them, you are really missing out.

4. New Warriors-Much like the New Titans, this book was also hot, for awhile. Also like the Titans, this book can easily be found in bargain bins. But once again you have a great team-up of characters who just couldn't keep up the momentum.

From their start in Thor #411 & #412, where they helped Thor fight Juggernaut (a very good storyline) to their own series, they were exciting! Them blend of something old and something new once again made a successful formula. You had the rarely used Namorita and Firestar along with the practically discarded Speedball and added to Night Thrasher, Kid Nova and Marvel Boy to make the New Warriors.

As with many other hero books, it was fun to see them make mistakes and learn to work together as a unit. Half the fun was seeing the development as both individuals and as a team. Much like a wrestler moving up the ranks, so did the New Warriors and soon they were taking on some pretty tough customers. But like the other books here, the focus was lost and the books soon fell to mediocrity. Too bad as they could have had a bright future.

5. Next Men-John Byrne's team book was once a popular series, but since its cancellation it has found its way into the bargain bins.  While the series isn't hot anymore, it is still just a good as when it was the rage.  Don't let the price fool you, it is very good.

It is pretty much John Byrne doing the X-Men the way he always wanted to do them.  But since Marvel has the rights, he designed his own team and while you can see similarities, it is unique enough to stand on its own.  One nice thing is since it was published by Dark Horse, he didn't have all the constraints that he would have under Marvel.  So he could really have fun with the book and it shows.  

Some honorable mentions would be Elementals, Southern Knights, the DNAgents, select issues of West Coast Avengers (mainly the early issues before they got ruined), the New Mutants (though they are much harder to find in the bargain bins), DP7, the Infinity Inc and Suicide Squad.

Classic Commercial
This month we look at one of the all-time popular items offered in the classic commercials. Most of us dreamed of owning it, but if we did, we were sorely disappointed. The item I am talking about is the x-ray glasses that appear in most comics. You know the image of the guy looking at his hand and seeing the bones. Every adolescent boy dreamed of these. But like many things, they were too good to be true.

One thing that always made me wonder is if you looked at flesh and saw the bones, and if you look at a person's clothes and saw the flesh underneath, wouldn't looking at someone say wearing a bathing suit, look like a big skeleton with a few human features? Maybe it is me, but that would be a bit of a turnoff. Sure you could see the covered up parts, but the girl would have bony legs (literally), arms and a big grinning skull. I don't know about you, but that would scare me to priesthood. And considering that you bought them for a buck or two from a comic book, I am sure there would be no control knob to adjust the power.

I knew someone who ordered them and they said they didn't work. Something with mirrors or something, but it was all a gag. Too bad as I am sure many a youth were tricked into spending their allowances on this, only to find out that they had been tricked.

Comics and Video Games
Part Three

As I said last month, I am going to tell you a proposal I sent to Marvel. I cannot find what I did with the original proposal (on a disk somewhere), so I will give it to you from memory.

I had proposed an Ultima Online type of game. Each city would be unique (and there would be quite a few so as not to have the cities overcrowded). If I remember correctly, there would be somewhere like 50-100 heroes and the same amount of villains in each city. I think it was around 100, because the different time zones and such, there would be only so much overlap. Anyways, in the game, you would assume the role of either a hero or a villain. You would give yourself a name and get a random power. These powers could grow in time and other powers could possibly be added. Then you would decide what to do. There would be missions that would come up in the form of broadcasts in newspapers or over radios. Things like precious gems on display at museum or stuff like that. You could choose to partake in these as a solo character or as a group. If not you could try to stop crime or commit crimes, depending on what side of the law you are on.

The Marvel heroes and villains would be NPCs (non player characters). They would come along to add to the game. This way there would always be heroes and villains to fight. They of course couldn't be killed, but could be defeated. There would also be innocent bystanders and police, fire and other workers. To keep the game PG rated, you could injure but not kill them.

Part of the object of the game would be as a villain to obtain money to get better weapons, henchmen and to bail you out of jail. As a hero it would be to earn rewards to also get better weapons, vehicles and a headquarters. Also, your character would evolve and depending on your actions their public perception would change. Get public approval like the Fantastic Four or Captain America and you get all kinds of privledges. Have the mistrust of the city, like Spiderman and have problems wherever you go. Depending on how many crimes you stop, how many people are injured while doing it, amount of property damage and so forth, would determine if your approval would go up or down.

To keep things interesting, you could have things happen like the Atlantis Attacks or a prison full of super villains gets smashed and they get out or an attack by Galactus. The possibilities would be endless with the likes of Juggernaut, the Moleman, Loki and others bringing in different kinds of problems.

While it sounds tough to do, Ultima Online and now Everquest shows that it could happen. I really think there would be alot of people who would flock to a game like this. By limiting it to one city, you wouldn't tax the system too much and by limiting the amount of people involved in each city, you can keep it from being a major slugfest. I really think with some creative work, it could be a major hit and with a monthly fee charged, Marvel could rake in a ton of money and have incentive to expand the cities and add new threats. So feel free to send a proposal like this to Marvel and with some luck, we may see something. Here's hoping!

Conclusion
Another month, another issue of Just Newsprint. Hope you enjoyed it and look for another issue next month. While I don't have any planned articles yet, I am sure there will be some that come to me during the month. As always, we will talk about comics of yesteryear and enjoy the hobby. With so many great books that have come out and so many newsletter and sites dedicated to only the new ones, it is easy for these great books to get forgotten. But I will do my best to let people know about a few of them each month. Why limit yourself to just new comics when you can get so many good ones cheap?

Tom Zjaba