Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wizard World/Comic Con 2010

Ok, I'm late on this one, the convention was last month. But I have a one year old and a full time job and well... excuses abound.

Anyway, I found it funny this year not seeing it called Wizard World. Instead we're now to refer to it as Comic Con again. Wizard runs it though.

I also missed the chalk artist guy. He always does amazing work and if he was there he certainly didn't have a location where I could find him. Where are you chalk artists guy?

Even with calling the convention Comic Con it felt less comic book focused than in years past. In fact it feels less like a comic convention each year and more like a pop culture convention. Now, I don't mind pop culture conventions. I got to see Michael Trucco of BSG up close and he IS just as good looking in person as he was on the show. But let's not call it a comic book convention if the only thing representing comic books is a handful of dealers. Even the panels were primarily meet and greets with actors and screenings of upcoming shows, not the discussions of comic books that they've had in years past. Once again this year Marvel and DC were not present either. I don't mind seeing small publishers at conventions, I like to see them out promoting themselves. But even those were few and far between - comic creator-dom was largely represented by artist alley where individuals were out to promote themselves regardless of publisher. Again a good thing! However artist alley seemed like it was an after thought this year for the convention except for the occasional appearance of a bigger name artist who would have a line.

Sure, there were some fun comic book character costumes. We always get a kick out of those. But even those, at least on Saturday, seemed fewer in number. More costumed people that I didn't recognize who they were than in years past, a lot of them looking rather scary.

These are really just observations. I still enjoyed the convention, but would really like to see something more comic book focused I'm going to check out C2E2 next year - I've heard good things about that. But there was one BIG thing that REALLY ticked me off about the convention and I know other people found it alloying to - the presence of Rod Blagojevich, former Chicago governor outed due to political corruption. Sure, he's from Chicago and the convention was in the Chicagoland area. But why do we need to promote this guy? Who made the decision to give celebrity status to a guy who gives politicians, and heck even people, a bad name? I'm embarrassed at having attended an event that was publicized in local media not as a great place to find out about comic books and have fun, but the place where people could pay to have a picture and/or autograph with a political criminal.

(Thanks Phil, for this pic that summarizes my opinion soooo well!)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Another Victim of the Economy - SaiZon Co.

SaiZon Company is the exclusive importer of Stikfas toys to the United States. They also carry koolby, kootikooti, cuboyds, mbear, coolrockets, mindzeye and asoblock toys.

We carried the Stikfas here at the store, and did some mbear too back when we were on Sunset. I think it was a year or so ago where Stikfas were featured in a martial arts magazine that a number of kids who go to the local Do Jo got. The problem is that there hasn't been a new Stikfa design in a while. But they are great for customizing and really cool, fun little toys. We have them, for now. But at the end of July our distributor will be no more. Another victim of the bad economy. They sent us an email to announce their closing, here is a portion of it:

"It is with great sadness that we announce today the impending closure of Saizon at the end of July.

After 6 years of hard work, meeting and getting to know great people and selling what we still regard as one of the best and original toys ever created, it was a tough decision to make, but one that we can’t delay any longer.

Due to recent economic conditions (sales, credit restrictions) and the fact that Stikfas have not produced any new figures in the last 18 months, resulted in ever increasing difficulties keeping Saizon on the growth path required in order to sustain even the leanest of operations."

So, sadly once the Stikfas are sold that will be it. We do have some in-store here at Neptune now, so if you want to get some of these great toys I'd suggest stocking up now.

I feel bad for this business. Distributors have really felt the pinch as their clients, small businesses, reduce orders or go out of business altogether. Just one more bit of proof that this economy isn't done taking it's victims and if you have a small business you like and believe in, now is the time to stay loyal to them and recommend them to a friend. Stores like Neptune can't continue to survive, at least not at the same level, if their customers disappear.

Scott Pilgrim

It's just about a month away now - the theatrical release of the first Scott Pilgrim movie. I'm excited to see how they do it. The books are so crazy and fun and Michael Cera is such a fun and quirky actor. I can totally see him as Scott Pilgrim.

We've stocked up on the graphic novels again at Neptune. 1-5 is available for those you you who have not yet enjoyed the spunky fun of S.P. Volume 6 is coming Jully 20, so that will give you some time to get caught up with the first 5 installments and then pick up 6.

This is fun for those who like manga - it has that general feel to it. Also young adults and people who are looking for something different from the comic book super heroes.

Make your own Scott Pilgrim avatar. It's fun!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

DC Digital and the end of Zuda

DC Comics announced
about a week ago now that they were going to have their own comics App for Apple and Sony products. They also decided to have a digital comic, Justice League: Generation Lost, released in stores and digitally on the same day.

This got comic book retailers talking. Creators discussed it as well. Overall the opinion from everyone - publisher, retailer and creator was - if it can make me more money I'm all for it. However not everyone agreed that it would or could.

I personally thought they should leave the comics as comics and use the apps for DC's Zuda line of comics, which are already a web based product. Why compete with yourself? Have your online comics and your paper comics. That's been my general opinion on the whole thing. Now I see why they didn't do the app for Zuda - because DC is shutting it down. Not due to lack of success they say, but because if paper is going digital it makes sense to have everything under one umbrella. I guess mathematics will agree with that - saves on time, saves on money. They ended the competition part of Zuda anyway, so what it becomes now is just another imprint under DC, but one that isn't available on paper in your local comic book store.

Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. My feeling has always been that anything that promotes the diversity of the medium and it's creative talent and increases the public's interest in it is good. Web comics have been around for years now and haven't stopped people from buying paper.

However, from reading the tweets and blogs of some of Zuda's creators, it doesn't sound like their works will be moved over to the new Digital DC, but rather like their works are now gone and they have to find another way to share them with their fans. I hope this isn't the case in the long-term. There were good works available on Zuda and I'd hate to see them disappear into the ether because DC couldn't figure out what to do with them.

Here's the thing... right now it seems like digital format is this weird, interesting planet to the comic book publishers that have been in print for decades. They see it and it looks soooo beautiful, they watched it from afar for so very long.. It was far off, almost a dream, but they wanted to get there so badly. There was life already on this planet, and they believe they could join that population and thrive just as it's original inhabitants do. So they invented a variety of air ships to get themselves there. Many failed. Some got them there but then they found that they were unable to breathe the atmosphere of this beautiful place. Back to the drawing board again, they continue to try to find a way to be what they are yet reinvent themselves enough to survive on this new world. Do they belong there? Can they survive there for long? Are they even wanted there? Or must they go because their ability to exist on their home planet is decreasing day by day? Only time will tell what the future holds for these digital explorers. History has taught us one thing about exploration - not everyone will survive.

Wonder Woman's Make Over

In yesterday's new Wonder Woman #600 she gets a new look, as seen on the left. It's an OK outfit, not necessarily one I'd have designed, but not horrible. More practical, that's for sure. How she fought baddies in a strapless halter and heels (on right) is beyond me. Now I don't think this outfit will last because one can't mess with a classic like this for long. She now looks like a hip teen from the late 1980's rather than the Amazon warrior we know. But it's about time she added a few different outfits to her wardrobe. Any real woman would!

The new outfit is just a portion of the "recreation" of a classic super hero icon. In this issue Straczynski also remakes her past. This is more troubling to me. An outfit is just fashion, which changes over time. But changing the history of this character makes her a different character completely--not just a make-over but a re-creation. Granted it's just another one of Straczynski's "time line alterations" and, like the outfit, won't last (yes, this is also the writer who broke up the Spider-Man Mary Jane marriage). But I don't like it. One could make Diana more grounded without having to completely re-invent her. If Straczynski wants to write the story of a woman stolen from her home and raised in an urban jungle who becomes a hero in her own right, pitch THAT story to DC - create your own new character. Heck, she could even be a sister Diana didn't know she had. But why mess with the original? Straczynski says because the sales numbers on the title were low and "it was long overdue." He also said in an interview with Vaneta Rogers from, "Putting the timeline back in order doesn't mean that some changes don't stick, especially if some of those changes end up being popular or well accepted. It'd be a shame to reboot a character and make her popular only to later throw it all away and go back to what wasn't working as well as it should've."

Sometimes characters do need a reboot, to have something different done to get people talking and reading again. Straczynski's "One More Day" did that, until people stopped buying Spider-Man in retaliation. Time will tell if his re-imagining of the Princess of Themyscara does anything to change the readership of the title. I know that We've seen ebbs and flows in the sales of the title at Neptune. There was even a time when we'd sell 2 or 3 issues at most. But when DC would have a good story or artist or writer on the title we'd see readership increase. Personally I think there have been some great Wonder Woman stories out there recently, and it doesn't hurt her to test out a new outfit or two. But I'm pretty unsure about this total revamp. Straczynski in the interview compares her to a Ferrari that doesn't get taken out of the garage because it's owner doesn't want to damage the beautiful car. Using that analogy this change is like owning a Ferrari but coming home one day and finding a Corvette in it's place. Still a cool car, but a completely different car, inside and out. What happened to the Ferrari? Will the Corvette eventually get a Ferrari engine, or will the Ferrari return with a new paint job and spoilers? Time will tell.

A closing statement--once again this has people talking about comic books. It was even in the New York Times. Publicity is good for the medium weather you like the outfit or not.