I’ve been going to Fan Expo Canada with Kaylin and Maks for the last three years. They’ve both reached the age where we can manage to do the entire show floor with a minimal amount of whining, and it’s fun.
I decided about five years ago that I was done with Fan Expo, it’s huge, it’s crowded, and I always feel exhausted at the end of a day there. Against my better judgement I took them the first time and they absolutely loved it, seeing the show through their eyes made me love it too.
This year I have been to more comic conventions than any other year. I’m going out and marketing Manage Comics, so I am meeting retailers, and talking to people. I’ve been to the April Toronto Comicon (which happened to fall on a PD day, so the kids came), the May Niagara Falls Comicon (which I flew solo), and I’ll be attending at least two more shows this year, so I had floated the idea that we skip Fan Expo past them.
He was my comics guy for the better part of a decade. He was the reason I travelled an hour in to his store every week for a year. It’s because of him that I became a comics guy. In a lot of ways, the guy who called himself “The Man Who Did Nothing” changed my life.
For comics fans, there are few relationships more intimate than your comics guy. As a former comics guy myself, you learn a lot about a person by what they read. You learn to anticipate what they will buy, and you find commonalities to talk about.
I like putting together a few year in review lists that remind me what I enjoyed in a year. Comics are a big passion of mine, big enough that I take the kids to two or three conventions every year, and always make plans to go to one of the bigger ones (like C2E2, WizardWorld Chicago, or the big daddy of them all, San Diego Comicon).
I sat down this year to put together a little list of my favourite comics of 2014. This is by no means a comprehensive list, there was plenty of one-off stuff that I enjoyed through the year, but this is the stuff that stood out to me month-in and month-out.
Grant Morrison and Ivan Reis bring us the first iinstalment in the culmination of Morrison’s involvement in the mainstream DC Universe with The Multiversity. Morrison is bringing all of his chickens home to roost with this one, and with this issue he deftly ties in threads from his runs on JLA, Final Crisis and Action Comics among others.
Morrison is a massive DC Comics fanboy, he’s been a fan his entire life, and loves to pay homage to tradition, while taking things in entirely new and unique directions. One of my favourite Morrison concepts, the “Super Young Team”, a Japanese super hero group, was his take on Jack Kirby’s “Forever People”, which is amazing because the two couldn’t be more different.
His run on Batman is among my very favourites, and he wrote what I consider the definitive “Dick Grayson as Batman” story in Batman and Robin.
I had the coolest job for a 16 year old ever thanks to Gord and Brian during the Bid Time Returns era. I started on the shop on Queens, helped open both the downtown and White Oaks Endless Adventures, moved to the Dundas street store, and went on to Heroes with Mike and Sean.
I still have awesome memories of the Queens Ave store, and I remember the day that I found out the name of the shop was actually a line from Shakespear’s Richard II (Act III, Scene 2): “O call back yesterday, bid time return.”
Brian taught me about doing shows, and I had a blast driving to Toronto with him. We were similar in personality, and both of us could just quietly enjoy the silence. He had an awesome old 1950’s Ford that was so great to ride in, despite the fact that we were driving into the sun both ways. Gord taught me a lot about the business part, just through osmosis. He taught me about ordering, inventory, and I cashed out more nights than I care to think. I learned a ton about games, and I amassed a huge comic collection, going so far as to take my own collection to Toronto on weekends to do one-day shows in the early 90’s (when you could buy the latest issue of “Puma Blues” on a Friday in London, and turn it over for $20.00 on Sunday in Toronto). I started doing rudimentary inventories, and kept track of my sales in a ledger.
During the down times, and after the doors closed, Gord would engage us in long conversations about society, philosophy, and he introduced me to stuff I would never have read on my own. As I got older, those conversations greatly shaped my own worldview, and coloured my own philosophies.
In 2005 I started my own online comics shop, All New Comics, with the intention of providing the same level of service that we gave every customer at Bid Time Return back in the day. Owning my own shop was cool, but it still pales in comparison to my time in the four colour trenches of my youth.
2011 marked several significant milestones for me.
I turned 40, Charlene and I celebrated our 10th anniversary, December marks 5 years at Info-Tech for me, our basement, begun October 2009 will finally be fully finished
Also, my hands-on, day-to-day involvement with All New Comics ended.
It’s been six years since I joined up with Peter to form All New Comics, Canada’s Online Comics Superstore. In that time a ton has changed for me.
Char and I had two kids, moved from Ajax Ontario to London (where I’m 10 minutes away from two great comic shops,and a lunch time walk from two more), I have a new job with tons more responsibility, and I have less and less time for other stuff, all the while I’m trying to figure out what my next challenge will be.
Meanwhile the industry has changed, with stores closing, entire lines of comics being rebooted, and of course digital
We did some pretty super-cool things and I think it’s safe to say we changed the Canadian Comic Shop landscape in several ways, most significantly by servicing remote areas like Nunavut, where our lone customer there was 6 hours away from the nearest shop!
I am not gone, far from it. I’ve been transitioning with Pete since June, and he handles about 90% of stuff now. I will keep my hand in the marketing stuff (monthly updates, Facebook and Twitter stuff), and I’ll make sure the site’s code stays humming along, but the days of me responding to emails at 2am are likely over.
For our customers, nothing really changes, other than Pete responding to more emails than me. He’s handled most of the business for the last three years. You can expect the same quality of service, and the same awesome comics will still go out with the same attention to detail in the packing of orders.
What’s next for me? The New Ninjas and I are working on something cool that we hope to tell folks about soon, and I have an idea or two of my own up my sleeve, and of course Char says I should relax as well
Here’s a little peek at what’s shipping in December from publishers big and small. As always, make sure you get your pre-orders in to All New Comics as soon as possible to ensure you get everything you’re looking for.
DC Comics: The Batman Hush – Unwrapped Deluxe Edition HC presents all 320 pages of Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s awesome Hush story featuring Lee’s artwork in pencil form. If you’re a fan of art, this is a book for you, $39.99.
There are a pair of slighly off the wall Green Lantern specials this holiday season with both the Green Lantern Larfleeze Christmas Special, and Green Lantern Plastic Man Weapons of Mass Deception.
Marvel – There’s a brand new Heroes for Hire group in the Marvel Universe, Wolverine, the Best There Is, a brand new series starring everyone’s favourite Canucklehead. There’s three more Chaos War one-shots this month with the all new Chaos War X-Men, Chaos War Ares, and Chaos War God Squad stories telling the tale of Marvel’s pantheon going rogue.
Finally, for those looking for a good workout, check out Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus HC, 1192 mortal crushing pages of Simonson greatness, including Frog Thor! $125.00
Dark Horse: Let Me In: Crossroads, a prequel to the film of the same name. The new Conan series is called Conan: Road of Kings.
Image – There’s a new underwater superhero from Image in MarineMan, while The Art of Todd McFarlane The Devil’s In the Details HC, it’s 300 pages of McFarlane art for $64.99. This will be limited to only 5000 copies, so make sure you pre-order this one.
Other Publishers: Stan Lee’s Boom Studios superhero universe continues with Stan Lee’s Starborn, The Lady Death revival gets underway with an all new Lady Death #0, 90’s independant superhero darlings Next Men get a new lease on life from IDW with the all new John Byrne’s Next Men series, and Green Hornet’s revival continues to be collected with Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet V2 144 page HC from Dynamite collecting issues #6-10.
Well, it’s the end of September, which of course means we at All New Comics are thinking about November’s comics. There’s loads coming out, and there’s plenty of stuff to stock up on. From the end of my favourite series of Hardcovers (Starman Volume 6 comes out this month, putting a bow on the Starman series), to some new Bat Titles. There’s something for everyone this month.
It’s the middle of summer, so of course, our minds wander to the month of September, when we go back to school, back to work, traffic gets busier, and a ton of new comics come out. This is my monthly look at the Diamond Previews catalogue. If you’re a subscriber at All New Comics, make sure you visit the Subscriptions area to update your subscriptions before Monday July 26th.
Dark Horse has a new Terminator series starring Kyle Reese in 1984 during the first Terminator movie. Written by Zack Whedon (brother of Joss) Terminator 1984 reads like a collection of storyboards for lost scenes from the Terminator movies (according to Comic Book Resources). Speaking of all things Whedonesque, Serenity The Shepherd’s Tale is a 56pg hardcover one-shot that finally reveals Shepherd Book’s past…written by Joss and Zack Whedon. For something a little different, give Eric Powell’s (of The Goon fame) new book Billy The Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London a shot, it’s a 4 issue mini-series with Goon backups!
DC Comics gets things started with a series of Army-related one-shots including Our Army At War, Weird War Tales (by Canada’s own Darwyn Cooke), Our Fighting Forces, G.I. Combat, and Star Spangled War Stories. Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s long awaited graphic novel New Teen Titans: Games finally gets published in a 144pg Hardcover. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray take on The Freedom Fighters in a new ongoing series. Grant Morrison’s awesome work on Batman continues to get collected in Batman & Robin Batman vs Robin Deluxe Edition HC (collecting issues 7-12 of Batman and Robin) with art by Canadian superstar Cameron Stewart among others. Also check out the new hardcover edition of Legion of Super-Heroes The Great Darkness Saga Deluxe Edition HC (collecting issues 284-296 of LOSH and Annual #1), and Gotham City Sirens: Songs of the Sirens HC (collecting issues 8-14 of the series)
Vertigo brings us How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less HC, writer/artist Sarah Glidden’s travel memoir of her trip through Israel. Fables gets another collection with Fables The Deluxe Edition Volume 2 HC, collecting issues 11-18 and Fables The Last Castle from the Eisner award winning series
Marvel brings us a bunch of good stuff. Captain America Patriot, a 4 issue mini-series from Karl Kesel and Mitch Breitweiser. Heroic Age 1 Month to Live, a 5 issue weekly series following Dennis Skyes, who has one month to live, and super-powers to change the world. Alex Ross and Christos Gage bring us a new Invaders series
Simone Bianchi draws Thor as you’ve never seen him before in Thor: For Asgard, a 7 issue mini-series which sees Thor trying to return Asgard to glory.
The X-Titles get another shake-up, as X-Men Curse of the Mutants gets into gear with 2 one-shots (Smoke and Blood, and X-Men Vs Vampires). Wolverine: The Road to Hell begins a big change for Wolverine and his clan of clones/sons, and murderers. Wolverine himself gets a new #1 (if you get the current Wolverine series, we’ll continue you with this one), X-21 gets a new ongoing series, and Wolverine’s son Daken: Dark Wolverine gets a new ongoing series. Be sure to catch up on your X-Men lore with X-Men: Second Coming HC, it’s a deluxe oversized hardcover clocking in at 344 pages, collecting the entire Second Coming epic.
This year’s surprise superhero hit Kick Ass gets a comic sequel in Kick Ass 2, with the original team of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr reuniting.
Image brings us Skullkickers, a new fantasy action comedy in the tradition of Army of Darkness. Robert Kirkman brings Invincible’s Science Dog to a one-shot of his own, and the very popular Liquid City gets a sequel in the Liquid City Volume 2 OGN, 312pgs of terrific stories by creators from Southeast Asia.
Archie’s marriage gets collected in a really great looking slipcased edition (200pgs of goodness for only $24.95) in the Archie Marries Slipcased HC. From Archaia Entertainment, David Petersen returns to the world of Mouse Guard with Mouse Guard The Black Axe, Bongo Studios brings us Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror #16, Aspen brings us Lady Mechanika. Some of Grant Morrison’s early work gets collected in Grant Morrison’s Vampirella SC, and early Vampi comics get collected in the Vampirella Archives Volume 1 HC. The Best American Comics 2010, a collection of the finest independant comics of the year is guest edited this year by Neil Gaiman.