TONY'S ONLINE TIPS From COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE #1458 (10/26/01)
"Lord, give me patience...and hurry!"
-George Robinson Ragsdale
I'm proud to be an American and a member of the international comics community. I'm proud of the way most of us have tried to do what we could to alleviate the losses of the September 11 terrorist attacks and honor our fellow Americans. I'm proud of the way most of us have rejected the easy answers, the finger-pointing, and the quick "fixes" in facing this crisis.
On the other hand, I'm not at all enamored with those claiming we must sacrifice our personal liberties or our rights to criticize and question our leaders "for the good of the country." It seems to me that defending and embracing those liberties and rights is as good for the country as anything else we might do.
This is America. We can roll up our sleeves and support our leaders in battling terrorism without rolling over on our backs and giving them carte blanche to do whatever they want in that battle and in other areas of national concern. Their job is to lead us. Our job is to make certain they lead us where we want to go. And, yeah, we're not all gonna agree on where we want to go. And, yeah, we're going discuss and argue and even protest about where we want to go. And, yeah, that's exactly the way it ought to be because, that, more than anything else, is America.
We have a really big house here. We have room for all of us, for all our divergent viewpoints, for all our personal diversity, for all our hopes for the future. We have room for the liberals and conservatives; for Christians, Muslims, Jews and atheists; for young and old; for gays and straights; for those who are ready to go to war and for those who march for peace; for every one with the courage and foresight to embrace the challenges and glories of the big house that is America.
I'm proud to be an American and a member of a community that is extending the hand of friendship and the hope of a better world in the aftermath of terrible events. However, since you probably didn't buy this charming newspaper to read the print equivalent of a pep rally, let's move on to some comics and entertainment stuff. I figure I'm good for about a thousand words before the urge to climb back up on my soapbox becomes irresistible.
ROAD TO PERDITION (Pocket Books; $14) by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers-Rayner is finally back in print! This graphic novel, the riveting story of a depression-era hitman's revenge against his former employer, was first published by DC Comics/Paradox Press in 1998 and barely noticed in the comic-book market. But it was most definitely noticed in Hollywood, where it has become the proverbial "major motion picture"...because a movie can't get much more major than starring Tom Hanks and being readied for a holiday release in a season also seeing the release of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE and THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
The Road to Perdition graphic novel should be available in the bookstores right now. The Road to Perdition novelization (Signet; $6.99), also written by Collins, is a January release which should be available before the end of the year.
The Road to Perdition movie is currently scheduled to premiere on December 21, with an expanded release on January 11. February will see the publication of ROAD TO PERDITION: THE SHOOTING SCRIPT by Sam Mendes (New Market Press; $17.95), part of a series of books on screenwriting.
Getting back to the graphic novel that started it all, Road to Perdition is a comics masterpiece. It's a compelling story, fueled by the realistic action, emotions, and settings with which Collins and Rayner invested it. I recommend it highly.
One of my guilty pleasures is joining mailing lists featuring bizarre, strange, and downright weird news. A while back, I posted this tidbit on my online message board
Godzilla, Japan's best-known monster, is coming to Japanese stores in a convenient single-serving can. GODZILLA MEAT, which is actually three-and-a-half ounces of corned beef, is packaged with pictures of Big G.
The food product is the creation of Takara Co., a Tokyo toy maker.
"People can eat Godzilla and become energetic and powerful," said Takara spokeswoman Yoko Watanabe.
"It has dreams mixed in with fun."
There are no current plans to export Godzilla Meat outside of Japan, but, pathetic though it may sound, something will be missing from my life until I dine on this monstrous delicacy. Anyone who sends me a can or three will be thanked most profusely, compensated most generously, and held completely and utterly blameless for any subsequent trip to the hospital which may ensue.
CBG's special Mid-Ohio-Con preview issue is a few weeks away, but I couldn't wait to share this news with you. Brian Kane, the author of HAL FOSTER: PRINCE OF ILLUSTRATORS (Vanguard Productions; $19.95), is bringing a special treat to share with fans of Prince Valiant and the man who created that classic comics strip. Here's the note he sent me recently:
While researching the Foster book, I came across the original film of his appearance on television's THIS IS YOUR LIFE from 1954. I talked Syracuse University into accepting the film as a donation if they would restore it and make VHS copies for the family (and one for me). The restoration has been completed and I have offered Mid-Ohio-Con's Roger Price the opportunity to schedule a viewing of the tape at the convention, the first time in almost 50 years that this show will be seen by the public.
Is that an incredible find or what? Brian tells me this film, with all of its old commercials intact, runs thirty minutes. After talking it over with Mid-Ohio-Con's panel programing director, who happens to be me, I'm scheduling Kane for a hour-long presentation on Saturday, November 24. He'll do a little introduction, show the film, and then answer audience questions on Foster.
If you'd like more information on Mid-Ohio-Con, check out the convention's website at
Sometimes it seems to me that many comics writers and artists have an unhealthy respect for Hollywood movies. Just as the movies have gotten bigger and more violent, though that may well change in the wake of recent events, these creators of super-hero tales have followed suit. Their heroes have largely abandoned the human arena for a more brutal stage with scenes of global and even interstellar devastation becoming commonplace and the body counts rising to keep pace. I have nothing against such stories per se, but I do think they can and have become an unsightly crutch for creators incapable of finding inspiration where all the truly great stories are born, the commonality of our human existence.
Hoy Murphy, well-known to online comics fans as "Our Pal Hoy," shared this slice-of-his-life with members of the Silver Age/Golden Age mailing list:
My son Patrick, who has been reading my Silver Age comic books along with the new ones I buy, asked a related question the other day. Noting the difference in storylines between then and today, he asked who was stopping all the bank robberies now, since the super-heroes were all out trying to save the world and the universe all the time?
Hoy, proud papa that he is, describes Patrick as "age 15, high school freshman, Eagle Scout, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) fan, and my best pal." Hoy also mentioned, when I asked permission to quote the above, that Patrick got a big kick out of seeing his dad's name in a previous installment of this column. I wonder how he'll feel about this week's edition.
Former DC Comics editor Maureen McTigue has authored what may be the indispensable book of the year for sociable Star Trek fans. STAR TREK: CELEBRATIONS ($12.95) will prevent them from committing the kind of annoying faux pas that could lead to their ending up on the wrong side of a blood-oath. Here's what the publisher has to say about this 128-page trade paperback
Ever wonder what to serve at a Klingon Day of Ascension? Just can't remember if you bring a gift to a Rumarie celebration? Can't recall if on Galvin Five, a marriage is considered successful only if children are produced within a year or three of the wedding? You know that Damok was on the ocean, but you can't recall just what that means? Have no fear! Finally, you too can come prepared to any celebration held anywhere in the Federation.
Culled from the data resources of every world, this comprehensive and handy guide will let you walk into any celebration with assurance. Clearly laid out are the complex and compelling cultures that are a part of this vast Federation. Plus: in a special section are the celebrations that have become part of the traditions of Starfleet. From promotion to ship commissioning, from the high solemn occasion of the passing of a member of the crew to the joyous exchange of marriage vows, you can be a part of it all!
I haven't seen the book yet, but, by the rings of Vulcan, or whatever Federation planet has rings, it sounds like a hoot-and-a-half. It also sounds like a book what would make a wonderful gift for the Star Trek fans in your life. Just remember to invite me to your next Bajoran bacchanalia.
"Where is Holly Simpson?"
Veteran readers of CBG will recall that, for years, the lead ad in the paper's classifieds section was this one:
THANK GOODNESS for the good things. God, family, friends, Starman, coffee, snow and a young woman I love, Holly Simpson.
Then, without warning, the ad stopped appearing.
A few months back, I expressed my concern over the absence of that ever-present mention of Holly and the nigh-legendary love she had inspired from one of our readers. Then, in late August, this note from Bill Beechler was posted to my message board:
The young woman I love is living in Indianapolis with me, her now-husband. I have been meaning to write to the board as Holly was distressed in your column that you were worried about her. She loves getting mentions in the CBG.
The story of the ad that ran forever at the top of the classifieds is this: I have subscribed for years and, when my subscription came up one year, I decided to fill out the free ad coupon. This was when Holly and I were dating and I thought it would be a nice, romantic gesture. The ad appeared, I showed it to Holly and she loved it. Then it appeared in the next issue and the next and the next...I had no idea that it would run that long in the first spot. Someone must have finally caught on that this ad had run for years and no one had paid a cent, beyond a subscription, for it. Holly looked for the ad every issue and then one day...it was gone. Not being horribly wealthy, I tried to place the free subscription ad again, but now you have to be selling or buying something...and the ad was rejected.
Anyway, it was fun and we will be married four years this September. Holly always enjoyed the mentions she received in your column. Other interesting things about the ad: At one point, some guy was selling Holly Simpsons newsletters in the classifieds. Of course, we bought one and it was a pretty funny "In Search Of" Holly Simpson parody. Also, at the last APE in San Francisco, John Lustig noticed Holly's name tag and said, "Hey, are you the Holly Simpson I've been reading about all these years?" She was blushing, but she loved it.
So, we're doing great. Thanks for the cool memories.
Excuse me, I'm getting a little misty-eyed here. Thanks for checking in with me, Bill, and be sure to tell Holly that all of us at CBG love her, too.
I'm climbing back on my soapbox for one last thought. We have seen Americans open their hearts and wallets to help others in our national time of sorrow. We see America at its best in sad times such as these.
However, please keep in mind that there is also need in other parts of our country. Local nonprofit charities in your community and elsewhere are bracing for hard times. Beyond the possibility that local donations will fall as a result of the efforts extended in the wake of the terrorist attacks, these groups are facing the equally alarming possibility that the need for their services will increase as a shaky economy brings more families to them in search of assistance. As early as this summer, well before September 11, the latter trend was already becoming evident.
I'm sure most of you have already made a donation to the Red Cross. Some of you may have also donated to other efforts, relief for starving Afghan refugees, or scholarships for the children who lost parents in the attacks.
Perhaps you even phoned in a pledge to the celebrity telethon held last month. It wouldn't surprise me in the least; I have always believed there was a super-hero within most of us.
As large as you have already shown your hearts to be, I would now ask that you open them and your wallets even more. There are folks close to home who need your help and your love. Please don't let them to be forgotten in the enormity of the events of September 11. They need heroes, too.
Some comments and revisions on the above:
I guarantee that CBG received at least a couple of complaints about the opening of this column. They have one reader, who calls himself a Christian, who hates gays with such passion that he once wrote to complain about Mark Evanier supporting "sodomites" because ME wrote about an AIDS benefit. What amazed me even more was that CBG published the guy's hate-filled screed in their letters column out of some misguided sense of fairness. If he's still subscribing to the paper, he likely dashed off a rant because I dare to dream of a truly inclusive America.
Even if he didn't, someone will certainly have written in to complain about the "liberal bias," as did Doug Murray in the latest issue of CBG I've seen. Guys like Murray, who apparently can not grasp the notion that Mark and Peter David and myself were hired on the basis of our writing ability and not because of our admittedly less-than-right-wing leanings, will very occasionally write to CBG demanding that the paper hire a "conservative" columnist to offset
our satanic verses. Ironically-Who says "irony" is dead?--by the standards of the comics biz, which is, of course, on what we focus most of our writings, we ARE conservatives. We're the guys calling for a return to such out-dated concepts as clear storytelling and consistent characterization and treating readers and retailers with a modicum of respect.
Admittedly, I don't read a lot of online review columns. I do know of one "conservative" columnist, but he's such an idiot, and not merely in the area of politics, that even his fellow columnists at the website which hosts him are embarrassed by him. But, this notion of hiring someone based on their political leanings rather than their writing ability intrigues me.
Assuming that this imaginary "conservative" columnist was out there and wrote well enough for anyone of any political orientation to want to read him, how would his comics commentary differ from my own? I mean, sure, there would be a noticeable difference in how we wrote about real world issues, but I'm wondering if there would be a discernable difference, beyond ever-elusive personal taste, in the comics we liked or disliked, and why we liked or disliked them. Any thoughts, my loyal legions of Tips readers?
Moving on to some bad news of sorts...
Almost as soon as the above column came off the presses, there were some developments on the ROAD TO PERDITION front. The first post-column report I received was that the holiday release was out and that the movie would now be released in Spring of 2002. Since then, I have heard that the movie has been rescheduled once again, this time for fall. I claim no real understanding of how Hollywood works, but one scenario goes like this:
THE TIME MACHINE, which was originally scheduled for holiday release has been pushed back to Spring of 2002. ROAD TO PERDITION, which was always intended for a spring release, has been bumped to Fall of 2002, so as not to compete with the other release. It has also been said, albeit on the official DreamWorks site, that there is a feeling a properly-promoted PERDITION could rack up more than a few Oscar nominations. I'm thinking such promotion could help at the box office as well.
Normally, such release delays do not bode well for any movie. But, given how the terrible events of September 11 threw Hollywood into confusion-apparently, some TIME MACHINE scenes were re-shot--and given the strength of the source material, I'm still expecting great things from the ROAD TO PERDITION movie.
In the meantime, GHOST WORLD (based on a comic book) pulled in some decent dollars and excellent reviews...and FROM HELL (based on a comic book) is the number-one movie in the country. Your ever-optimistic columnist hopes this will lead to greater acceptance of the comics art form and more opportunities for creators to realize and profit from works outside the traditional adventure and super-hero genres. I have nothing against super-heroes, mind you, they remain my first and truest love, but it hasn't been lost on me that Daniel Clowes, Alan Moore, and Eddie Campbell will make more on the movies made from their comics than any of the X-Men creators have made from the success of the X-Men movie.
On the Godzilla front
Its unfortunate date aside, I have proudly added the September 11 edition of WEEKLY WORLD NEWS, which, of course, hit newsstands and supermarkets at least a week before that tragic Tuesday, to my Godzilla collection. How could I pass up a newspaper which carried a headline like this:
U.S. DROPPED A-BOMB ON JAPAN TO KILL GODZILLA!
Here's a taste of the story
TOKYO: Contrary to what most history books say, the U.S. military did not drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima simply to end World War 2, but mainly to destroy Japan's secret weapons-Godzilla and Rodan! That is the oddball contention of a new book titled PROJECT BAKEMONO by Dr. Yoshio Sakoda. Even more alarming, the respected Japanese World War 2 historian warns that the A-bombs did not wipe out the creatures or their eggs-and the gigantic monsters and their brood will soon erupt from hidden nests deep beneath the devastated cities.
On other fronts, I'm juggling guests and schedules to create the panel programming for this year's Mid-Ohio-Con. I'm not quite ready to unveil the program, but, while you're waiting, check out the Mid-Ohio-Con website for the latest information on my favorite comics convention.
Let's close this week's "Tips" with the good news about former DC editor Maureen McTigue. DC's loss turns out to be not only the gain of Pocket Books, publisher of the STAR TREK: CELEBRATIONS book mentioned above, but also the gain of Harris Comics, where McTigue has come aboard as the company's new editor-in-chief. Congrats to both McTigue *and* Harris Comics.
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.
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