Issue #17

Table of Contents
01 Introduction
02 Gift Buying and the Comic Fan
03 Crazy Comic of the Month
04 How Do You Choose?
05 Bargain Bin Bonanza
06 Christmas Comics
07 Top 10 List
08 Conclusion

The holiday season is upon us and it is time for all comic fans to make up want lists and give them to your family and watch them look at you like you are from Mars. But I will give a gift giving guide here that offers easy to find suggestions for people who have to shop for a comic fan.

We are a step closer to the 20th issue! I would like to do something special for that issue, but right now I don't have any ideas. Ideas usually hit me when I am not expecting them and hopefully this will follow suit.

Gift Buying and the Comic Fan
If you are a comic book fan, then this is article is not for you. But if you are married, dating or have parents and/or siblings, then this can be an easy guide for them to get presents for you. Sure, you could ask for the specific comics, but how would you like if someone asked you to buy something very hard to find and specific in an area that you have no idea about? Wanna look for a 1988 Special Edition Precious Moments Easter Edition figure? Or how about a 1984 Cabbage Patch Kids Astronaut in original box? It would be a pain to find these items, as it would be to find a certain issue of a comic book. But this list is stuff you need, but still can be found at most comic book stores. Some takes a bit of knowledge, while others are much easier to find.

1. Supplies-You need them and you hate to spend your own money on them, but they are worth their weight in gold when you accidentally spill your box of comics. Comic bags, boards and boxes are always in demand and you can never go wrong. As far as sizes, if they buy new comics regularly, then get some new comic size. If they are only into older books, silver age should do fine. If they have some really expensive comics, then you may want to pony up and get a handful of Mylars. These top of the line supplies will give the protection their best books demand.

2. Subscription-I will not recommend comic subscriptions here as most people don't want to get them straight from the company. You get them weeks after the stores and the mailman can wreack havoc on them. But a subscription to Wizard Magazine or Comic Buyer's Guide would be a nice present! Both will arrive all year long and bring alot of joy to your favorite comic collector.

3. Comic Software-Most collectors like to catalog their collection and the right software can help. One popular one is Comic Collector and it is quite easy to use. Another one is Comic Trax, which you can download and then by paying a fee, unlock all the features. Here is the URL:

4. T-Shirts and other stuff-Most comic fans like to show their allegiance to their favorite books and characters and what better way than with a t-shirt, hat, mug or pin? There is a plethora of comic related merchandise for almost any character who is even remotely popular.

5. Weekend pass-What would be a better pass than a weekend pass for your comic fan. Before you go crazy trying to figure out what I mean, what you do is give them a certificate that they can redeem for a weekend to attend a comic book show without any children. This way if they want to attend one of the big ones like the San Diego Con, Chicago Con or any of the other ones. If you are really feeling generous, you could add in the price of tickets and maybe a little spending money.

6. Gift Certificates-Any comic store that is worthwhile will offer gift certificates. This is a good way to get some stocking stuffers and not end up with a comic or a toy that they already have.

7. No Complaint Tickets-With alot of comic based movies in the works (X-Men, Spiderman, another Spawn and Blade movie, to name a few) what would be a better little stocking stuffer than a certificate for a pair of passes to see the movie of their choice, with no complaining about what they see.. You could even set up the babysitting for the evening.

So with a little imagination you can find some unique gifts for the special person in your life and not have to go all over town asking if they have X-Men #100 in near mint shape.

Crazy Comic of the Month

A new feature I am starting on this newsletter is to spotlight one strange comic each month. It will be an issue of a book that for one reason or another catches my eye and either makes me groan or laugh out loud. For this month, I picked a book that had a cover that I couldn't ignore. It was one from my own personal collection that I just thought was hilarious.

For the first comic, I chose issue #16 of the 1960's Hawkman series. The cover features Hawkman being strangled by a flying gorilla! And you thought the flying monkeys from "The Wizard of Oz" were bad! These big beasts would eat them monkeys for lunch and then ask for dessert.

While the picture is quite cool and definitely crazy, it is the caption that steals the show! Listen to this "A Go Go Gorilla with a big beat takes on Hawkman and his swinging mace!" If that doesn't date this book, then nothing will! Makes you want to pull out some love beads and Beatle boots and read this groovy book!

The story is decent, but not as good as the cover. The winged apes do make their appearances as well as moth men. The story is written by legendary scribe, Gardner Fox and illustrated by Murphy Anderson, who also does the cover. If you can find this issue, you gotta tune into the story, turn on the light to read it and drop out for a half hour and completely enjoy it!

How Do You Choose?
One of the most asked questions I get from people is how do I decide which comics to feature in Just Newsprint? They want to know if I just feature my favorites or is it some sinister plot to sell slow moving comics on the website? Now I will reveal the great secret to how I decide what books to feature. Ready?




The secret formula is....... I just pick out a book that looks interesting from the ones that either I am putting on the website for sale, from my own collection or that someone is buying. I usually look down and see a cool looking book and say "That would be a cool book to feature, I remember how much I enjoyed that!" Then I usually scan an issue and reread a few to reacquiant myself with them.

A perfect example of one was the "I am Legend" series. I picked them up at a comic show because they were cheap and looked like something that would sell. As I was putting them on the website, I read the little blurb on the back and it intrigued me. Webpage work has its share of downtime as you wait for pages to load or save, so I started reading an issue and was hooked! I soon finished them all and enjoyed it so much that I had to talk about it. It also made me rent the movie based on it and watch it (Omega Man with Charlton Heston, a really poor translation of the book) and then read the original novel. The novel was a bit of a letdown, not because of the writing, but because the comic series was an almost exact translation of it, so there was nothing new in the novel. Oh well, I still enjoyed it.

So there you have it, there is no secret formula or conspiracy to sell more comics. It is just random chance of what comic so happens to be there while I am writing the latest issue. Sorry to disappoint you.

Bargain Bin Bonanza
Many great television shows were featured in comic books. Most had comics that came out when the show was new and popular. The Honeymooners had to wait 30+ years for their own comic series. But the show is a classic and timeless, so unlike some shows of yesteryear, it makes for a great comic!

The Honeymooners featured a run of comics done under the imprint of Triad Publications. There were 13 issues in all, even though the series says there will be 24 issues. There was also a comic based on the Honeymooners from Lodestone which was a one shot, but we are only dealing with the Triad comics for this article.

The stories are light and fun and the artwork is cartoony, but quite good. The books are filled with sight gags and one liners and does its best to capture the feel of the old series. The book is full color, unlike the television show. About the only real problem with the book is it cannot capture the genius of Jackie Gleason. Much of his appeal is his body language and his voice that goes from a loud bellow when he screams out his trademark "To the moon!" to his almost mumbles as he realizes that he is wrong. This is something that a comic book cannot capture and it becomes quite apparent. But I give them credit for trying to capture it.

The issues also feature interviews with some of the stars of the show like Joyce Randall as well as people from the stories like Captain Lou Albana and Will Eisner. This adds to the package and makes it a good value for the money. There are also pictures from the show that appear on the back cover and inside covers. These add a little nostalgia to the book and again adds to it.

Christmas Comics

One holiday that is well represented in comic books is Christmas. While there are not alot of new books that feature Christmas, there are alot of them in the past, especially the 1950-1960s where there are literally hundreds of comics based on Santa Claus and other seasonal icons. Below is an incomplete list of some of the characters that were given their own books and some of the titles.

Santa Claus-Jolly, old St. Nick is by far the most popular of the holiday characters. He appears in over 40 different comic titles and nearly 60 issues (as you can tell, almost all were one shots). With issues ranging from the Santa Claus Funnies, a giveaway that came out in 1940 to the more recent attempt from Maximum Press called Santa the Barbarian (the story is about as bad as the title).

Santa saw his share of team-ups in these comics with such titles as "Santa and the Angel", "Santa & The Buccaneers" and "Santa and the Pirates"! Hard to believe old Mr Claus could be so adventurous! Indiana Jones has nothing on him! The jolly old man also battles aliens in the movie adaptation "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians"! Add this in with some odd jobs he does in his off season like in the following books "Santa's Circus" and "Santa's Rodeo".

There are also some more traditional comics like the following March of Comics issues, "Santa is Coming March of Comics (#197) and one that should have followed it "Santa is Here (March of Comics #49). And every kids wants to read the comics titled "Santa's Toys (March of Comics #12) and "Santa's Toyland (March of Comics #242). As you can see, he is one popular character!

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
-Santa isn't the only wintertime hero to get his own comic. His number one reindeer, Rudolph and his glowing nose also get a few comic appearances. While Rudolph didn't get as many titles as Santa, he did get a regular gig with DC Comics where he had a total of 13 issues that spanned from 1950 to 1963. They came out annually and were a treat for children to look forward to.

Rudolph also had a version that was a giveaway at Montgomery Ward in 1939, where an astonishing two million plus copies were given away! So just like in the story, Rudolph comes ahead of Santa Claus (before you history buffs email me and complain that the story of Santa Claus came way before Rudolph, I am talking about Rudolph being ahead of Santa as he pulls the sleigh).

Frosty the Snowman-The third of the famous trifecta, Frosty, also had his share of issues. They were all done by Dell in their long, long, long running Four Color series. He had a total of 11 issues done They are all named simply "Frosty the Snowman". While I have not read any of them, it makes me believe that they are probably either just reprints of the same issue or just different artists and writers redoing the same story. If I am wrong, feel free to correct me.

Oh yeah, there was also another snowman comic (and I don't mean the early X-Men where Iceman looked like a snowman). It also was a Four Color comic and was titled "The Littlest Snowman." It was first featured in issue #755.

A Christmas Carol-Charles Dickens timeless classic also was featured in the comic format. There was an issue done by March of Comics (issue #33) and two giveaways from Sears Roebuck. There was also a version in the newer Classic Illustrated that were done by Acclaim. Plus, the story was retold in many popular comics, too numerous to list.

Night Before Christmas-This famous poem also had a comic rendition. No surprise that it was part of the same series that most of the Christmas comics were part of, "The March of Comics." It was in issue #152.

Lastly, there were many special Christmas issues featuring many of comics most famous characters. Here is a small list of some of the issues:

*Christmas and Archie
*Christmas in Disneyland
*Christmas with Mother Goose
*Christmas with Snow White
*Christmas with the Super-Heroes (reprints many of DC's greatest Christmas stories featuring Batman, Superman, the Flash and more)

There were also three Donald Duck stories that featured Christmas themes (actually there were alot more, but I can only do so much research). These all came out under the Four Color series:

#178-Christmas on Bear Mountain (1st appearance of Uncle Scrooge)
#203-The Golden Christmas Tree
#367-Christmas for Shacktown

So you can see that there is a plethora of Christmas stories in the comic industry! No matter if you are one who likes traditional stories or like to see superheroes mingle with Santa Claus, there is something for everyone!

Top10 List
Staying in a festive mood, I decided to list the top ten Holiday stories or shows that have not been made into a comic book. Some of these should have been, but leave it to comics to miss some golden opportunities. I also included a few humorous ones.

10. Miracle on 34th Street-You remember that movie with Natalie Wood? Well, I personally don't think it would be that good a comic, but my wife would probably like it and anything that would get her to read comics, can't be all that bad.

09. 12 Days of Christmas-OK, it would be a really short comic, but I personally can never remember them. Maybe they could do a Marvel version that would go something like this "Four Fantastic Members, Three Different Avengers Teams, Two Different Captain America Shields, and a Spiderman in a pear tree". Excuse me, but I started this list at the bottom and am really scraping the bottom of the barrel to finish this top ten.

08. Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer-You know the humorous song, how about a comic based on it? They could even throw in the lyrics and a cassette version. Sounds like a plan to me!

07. Island of Misfit Toys-Remember them from the Rudolph Television Special? You know the cowboy who rode a bird and the train with square wheels. Well, I personally would like to see the continuing adventures of these misfits! They are really cool and need to get some attention!

06. The Other Reindeers-Sure Rudolph gets his own television special, toys and even comic books, but how about Dasher, Dancer, Donner and Blitzen? These poor guys not only have to watch Rudolph come and lead the sleigh, but he also hogs all the glory. What do they get? A mere mention at the beginning of the Rudolph song and a trivia question. It is about time they all get their own comic!

05.Nightmare Before Christmas-So this isn't your typical Christmas story, but it is a good one and one that to my surprise was not made into comic form (I could be wrong, but didn't find any mention anywhere of it).

04. The Year Without a Santa Claus-Remember this Rankin/Bass classic? Good material for a comic book! Gotta love the Heat and Cold Miser! Much better than anything Leifeld ever came up with.

03. Nester the Long Eared Donkey-Another holiday classic that has been overlooked. Give the donkey his due!

02. Little Drummer Boy-Of all the classics, I was shocked when I didn't see a book based on this. Maybe it isn't popular enough or maybe it was just overlooked? Even David Bowie sang about him, so it is not like he is completely unknown.

01. How The Grinch Stole Christmas-It is a shame that this Dr Seuss classic has never been made into comic form. It is a shame that no Dr Seuss has been made. There is a wealth of ideas there.

Well, our special holiday issue comes to a close. Hope you enjoyed it and may all your holidays be happy! May your stocking be filled with comics and toys, even if you were naughty. Check back in a month and if the world is still here, I will do another issue of Just Newsprint as I get one step nearer to the big 20th issue!

-Tom Zjaba