Fabulous Flo

With today being International Women’s day it seems important to talk about a woman who essentially helped shaped what people think of as the ‘Marvel Age’ of comics. If Stan Lee was Marvel’s public face. Flo Steinberg was very much its personal touch. She played a part and was witness to Marvel Comics going from a two person operation to a major company. It seems everyone who worked at Marvel during her tenure has a Flo story to tell. All of them positive and fun. I’m big enough to admit my previous ignorance to the importance of her role. Thanks to Sean Howe’s brilliant book ‘Marvel Comics The Untold Story’ all that changed. The amount of index points for her need an index of their own! Such is her importance to the fabric of Marvel Comics.

Perhaps the moniker ‘Gal Friday’ wouldn’t be taken the same way in todays working climate. But Flo certainly was fabulous. Any job, big or small she attacked with energy. One of her jobs was to send pages to the Comics Code for approval. Imagine having to do that at a time when the code was more strict? Receiving work back and having to tell an artist yay or nay. They could certainly do with her get up and go in the Marvel offices now. Then we wouldn’t have to wait six years between issues of Hickman and Weaver’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Its reported on more than one occasion she had to stop eager fan boys sneaking into the famed bullpen. Flo could match Stan for passion and enthusiasm. I get the impression from pieces I have read that making the bullpen this living, breathing entity was as much down to her input than anyone else’s. Her biggest contribution was in replying to fan mail and overseeing Merry Marvel Marching Society memberships in order. If you ever wrote to Marvel during Steinberg’s years of employ chances are she replied. It was a personal point of pride that all mail had to be acknowledged. On the ‘Voices of Marvel’ album sent to MMMS members she says “Hello fans its very nice to meet you. As Marvels corresponding secretary I feel I know most pf you from your letters.” Wasn’t fandom an brilliant thing back in the day? Flo really was every readers friend. Jim Mooney describes her positive effects on the Marvel offices perfectly. He once said when he visited the DC offices it was all business and a slightly stressful environment. Where as when visiting Marvel Flo made you feel relaxed and important. Everyone who visited felt the same.

Flo left Marvel in 1968 after not receiving a pay rise of just $5! People who worked at Marvel at the time say it is the stupidest decision the company ever made. Flo didn’t let this set back slow her down at all. She moved briefly to the west coast and befriended talent from the underground commix scene. On her return to New York she ran the mail-order horror magazines for Warren Publishing. This was followed up with a panel at the 1974 New York Comic Art Convention. Discussing the role of women in comics. 1075 saw Flo become a publisher in her own right with the publication of Big Apple Comix. The culmination of her new connections and lure to the underground scene. This one shot publication has huge historical significance in the link between underground commix and alternate comics. All the work for Big Apple Comix was done off her own back, with her storing inventory at Warren Publishing. 20,000 copies were printed and in 1984 Flo happily declared of her adventure “I did make my expenses and a little besides.”

Flo Steinberg wore many hats in her time with Marvel and in the independent scene. Secretary, publisher, proof reader, editor and fan correspondence. The hat that fits best though is legend. I never had the pleasure of meeting Flo Steinberg. But in a way I feel I do know her. A should anyone who has ever read a ‘Silver Age’ Marvel comic. She was as important as anyone who put words or ink to a page. Long may her legacy continue to inspire others.


Fabulous Flo

Question Time With Marc Bernardin

The comic book blogging gods were smiling on me the other day when a chance tweet landed me an off the cuff interview with Marc Bernardin. If you have no idea who Marc Bernardin is my first instinct would be to tell you to stop reading my blog. But really if you read it you will learn something. He is part of the reason I took up blogging about comics. He co-hosts the podcast Fatman on Batman with Kevin Smith. Listening to Marc talk both passionately and articulately about geek culture is inspiring stuff. If I could forge a career talking about the things I love then I’m doing well in life. If not at least the blog allows me to get things off my chest. Marc has had a varied writing career going from articles for Playboy and as film editor for the LA Times. His talents will next be show cased as part of the writing team on  Hulu’s Castle Rock. But it is his work in and his passion for comics that was the topic of our conversation.

On 19th of February the second arc of Genius is released in both digital and print collected editions. Genius debuted as part of Top Cows Pilot Season initiative in 2008. It is co-written by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman. Art was by Afua Richardson. It won the 2008 initiative. In 2014 it got a 5 issue mini series titled Siege. This was then followed by the second mini series in 2017 with the same duo on writing and Rosi Kampe stepping into art duties. Genius is the story of Destiny Ajaye. A seventeen year old girl with the greatest military mind of our generation. Need I say more?

Me: Whether people are coming to Genius for the first time or have been on since the beginning what can they expect from this and the previous volume? Are there plans for more Genius stories?

Marc: The desire for us, when telling Genius stories, is to do what speculative fiction always does: Take one element of the real world (in our case, inner city policing) and add an otherworldly element (in our case, a strategic savant). We hope that a reader will come away feeling like they saw some cool shit blow up, as well as thinking about something in a way they never had before.

Me: What decisions went into going with a female protagonist?

Marc: When Adam and I were first spooling up the idea, part of the genesis was “What will be the most surprising thing?” At the time, comics didn’t have a lot of female leads. It didn’t have a lot of black leads. Which meant a black female lead was the most surprising thing in the world. It’s that last thing that led to most publishers turning us down when we’d pitch. But not Top Cow. It was something we had never seen before, which made it all the more interesting to write.

Me: What were your thoughts when other independent publisher wouldn’t take a black female lead? After all they are supposed to be freer environments than the big.

Marc: All decisions in comics are motivated by sales. The marketplace in 2008, when we were first pitching Genius is a different one than it is today. Of course I could (and did) steadfastly maintain that there’d be an audience for Genius, but all conventional wisdom at the time wasn’t on our side. So I didn’t hold it against anyone of they were unwilling to steer into what looked to be an unwelcoming storm.

After talking about his work on Genius I wanted to get to know more about the man behind the creative talent.

Me: What is your creative process? Are you an initial notes with pen and paper guy?

Marc: My creative process usually begins with me and a blank Microsoft Word document. And I just start writing as if I’m trying to explain to someone what this new thing is about. Loose thoughts. Fragments of scenes and snatches of dialogue. If I can’t get to my laptop, I’ve always got a notebook with me for that. After a while, it starts to take shape — sometimes it’s the world that comes to me, sometimes it’s a character. After that the work is in building out the supporting framework. Who is this story about?

Me: Do you do ‘Marvel Method’ or full script?

Marc: I’ve never written Marvel style, it’s all full script. That’s mostly because for much of the comics work I’ve done, I’ve started writing before there’s an artist attached. So I want to be sure that my intent is totally clear and the only way to convey that clarity is with full script. As time goes on with a collaborator, there’s less and less detail in the script because I’ve learned what his or her strengths are and we’ve built up a level of trust. Since we’re not artists if the person who’s actually visualizing the script on the page has a better idea of how it’d work, we’re all ears. But Marvel style… I don’t know how you even do that!

Me: Where is your writing space?

Marc: I need a little white noise when I write. A movie I’ve seen a billion times playing in the background if I’m home, the din of a coffee shop or food court or a bar if I’m out in the world.

Me: How is it writing as a duo?

Marc: I write both with a partner and solo. I am by nature a collaborative person, so I enjoy the sparks that fly when two people, both invested in making a story work are firing on all cylinders. Filling in blanks, making narrative leaps, being strong where you’re weak and vice versa. But there are some projects where you can so clearly see what it is and what it should be that you just want to execute it yourself.

Our process on Genius is, we’ll get together for a bunch of sessions. Interspersed with emails and IMs to talk about the general shape of the story. Big picture to small picture: the shape of the miniseries, what happens in each issue. Then one of us will hammer that into a document. Then we’ll break down each issue into a 20 point list, each point being what happens on each page. We’ll back-and-forth that for a bit until we’re both happy, then start writing. He’ll do a few pages, send it to me. Then I’ll rewrite those pages, adding a few more on the back end. Rinse and repeat till we’re done. That way we both have been pushing forward, but we have our fingerprints on everything.

Me: What are your earliest memories of reading comics? First comic you brought?

Marc: I used to read the comics in the Sunday paper; that was my first introduction to sequential storytelling. My first comics that I read and loved were the Savage Sword of Conan comics that Marvel did. The big black and white jams. Then came Secret Wars, which cracked open the Marvel Universe for me. Which led to Spider-Man and the X-Men.

Me: Are you a collector or a reader? Single issues or trades?

Marc: I was a die hard single issue guy for a long, long time. But in my old age I’ve become a trade reader. I like the ‘slab of culture’.

Lastly there was no way with an open dialogue with Marc Bernardin and with the release of Black Panther on the horizon I had to ask for his take on its arrival.

Me: How has it felt in the build up to Black Panther finally hitting the big screen?

Marc: The Black Panther of it all has been like the warmest blanket. It’s all love and positivity, which feels like an oasis in our current climate. But like all good things it’s going to end.

I just want to take this moment to thank Marc for giving me this opportunity. It made me feel like a real comic book journalist and maybe that all my spare time submerged in geek culture has been worth it.

Marc can be found on Twitter @marcbernardin and Facebook MarcBernardinOfficial. Fatman on Batman release regularly on all the usual places for podcasts, Smodcast.com and YouTube.

Genius vol.2: Cartel is released in print and digital on February 19th. Previous issues of the first volume are again available both digitally and in print in all good comic shops.




Question Time With Marc Bernardin

CryoJen Book 1 Annotated

Doing annotated reviews of the latest trending comic seems to be the in thing at the moment so I thought I would be self indulgent and do one for my own short story.

Here is a link to the story: http://languageofbromance.com/ian-wells-presents-cryogen/

Inspirations: The main inspiration for this short story came from listening to the What Say You podcast by Brian Quinn and Sal Vulcano. Now I should have done my research and find out which episodes. But listen to them all, their all good. During the listen and the rest of the day the idea for me to write something involving cryogenics was planted. I went through about three different core ideas before landing on my final one. Once that was in place some other inspirations for tone came from Batman Year 100 by Paul Pope and Jose Villarrubia and funnily enough some parts of Tomorrow Land which will become more obvious if I was to do more instalments.

Characters: After providing the initial seed of inspiration there was no way I couldn’t include characters named Brian and Sal. Obviously I took the liberty of making them brothers but hey-ho. It works for how I planned the story. There is also another What Say You call back when Sal mentions the pickling. As for CryoJen herself that actually took sometime. As ever when I start writing I didn’t have a title. The Wonder Woman film was on the horizon when I started writing so Diana was on my mind. But I thought that would be a nice easter egg popping up in a throwaway line as her middle name. All the pieces fell into place when I decided to call her father Clint. Here is where it gets convoluted, stick with me.  My favourite band is Manic Street Preachers. Their lead singer/guitarist is James Dean Bradfield. The story goes his father wanted to call him Clint Eastwood Bradfield. His mum said no and they settled on James Dean. So I have the name Clint for my lead male cause its a cool name. Then to keep the Manics link I wanted to give my main lead the initials JDB. So I kept Diana and Bradfield and added Jennifer. Then it suddenly hit me I had come up with my title too. CryoJen! Genius right? Then my villain of the piece Oscar Strant just sounded villainous to me right off the bat. His surname had to be something that would sound believable followed by the word Industries. He may seem like a Trump analogy but everyone s going to say that in the worlds current climate. I like to think Strant is more intelligent, thus making him even more dangerous.

Notes: It may ne obvious from reading I done no research what so ever into the world of Cryogenics. That is what I hope makes my story accessible. My approach was the just take the general assumptions about cryogenics and use them as the basis. Besides once Jennifer is defrosted the cryogenics aren’t integral to the story. I did play about with some other science break throughs in the story. They were only touched upon in the first story with dialogue here and there. But I was planning to examine them further. Two examples would be “The Network” which is a Strant owned and ran new internet. The “original internet” is soley used for pornography now. Then there is “the Newscaster” which again is a Strant product, a TV which only purpose is to only show news. Every household must have one by law. I have two ideas for more instalments. One would be a prequel explaining what happens to Clint after Jennifer is frozen and the other would be a continuation of the story in 2028. Lastly I’ll admit my maths on the timeline may be a little off!

PS If anyone would like to do a mock up of a cover or a CryoJen character design hit me up on Twitter @IanWells87

CryoJen Book 1 Annotated

Top 100 Comics CBR

Its that time of year again where Comic Book Resources conduct a poll to reveal the top 100 comic storylines of all time. Once again I forgot to vote. But I thought I would do a follow up piece on how many of the top 100 I have read just to check my geek credentials. Then I will comment on whether I agree with what came out on top and some comics I would put on the list.

So lets get into the business. Of the top 100 comic storyline as voted for by the CBR readers I have read (drum roll) 29! Way less than than half and just edging past a quarter. Am I not the geek I claim to be? Thankfully I have more in the top half (17) than the bottom half (12) including 6 of the top 10. Best of all for my credibility as a comics blogger I have read all of the top 3. I know things like this shouldn’t bother me but it has created a topic for discussion. Next year I will actually vote! There is no way my votes will affect the outcome of the 100. Some more stats for you. Not surprisingly the majority of what I have read is Marvel (19). DC and Indies took 5 each. Though those 5 independent titles are all Vertigo titles so really it is a 19/10 split. I generally don’t read a lot of independents but I can think of three titles off the top of my head that would make my top 100. Any arc of Southern Bastards (Image) and C.O.W.L. #1-11 (Image). I’m surprised Sleeper didn’t make the list. Ed Brubaker has a huge following and I can read that over and over again. Some of the more street level stuff from IDW’s TMNT would be pushing for a place on my list too. To be honest there weren’t a lot of indie titles on the list that I thought “Oh I must read that.” Two DC books on the list which I’ve been meaning to read for a long time are All Star Superman and The Judas Contract. I want to read the entire Wolfman and Perez run on New Teen Titans from the beginning so when I get to Judas Contract I am heavily invested in the characters. Over on the Marvel side of things is Ultimates 2 better than volume 1? Daredevil: Man Without Fear seemed very low. Rightfully so Born Again was in the top 3. I myself would of had it at number one edging out Watchmen. At times the rules seem rather strict but the fact they included ‘The Elektra Saga’ as one story even though its not always told over consecutive issues seemed a little lapse. I’m not complaining though, it is a great run. The original Wolverine mini series and Weapon X are both way better Wolverine stories than Old Man Logan. I would probably even go as far as to have the Wolverine mini in my top 5. While The Dark Phoenix Saga is brilliant story telling. It has some great monologues and character moments I would have God Loves Man Kills as my highest X-Men story. I think just being shorter in length it makes it a tighter story than TDPS. Any way next year I will vote and do a follow up on this, explaining my voting. Here is the complete list of the CBR Top 100 comics that I have read.

98. Love and Death (Swamp Thing #28-34) – Moore, Bissette, Totleben

91. Slavers (Punisher MAX #25-30) – Ennis/Fernandez

85. Daredevil: Man Without Fear – Miller/Romita Jnr

82. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Moore/O’Neill

81. Avengers Forever – Busiek/Stern/Pacheo

75. Ultimates 2 – Millar/Hitch

74. The Longbow Hunters – Grell

70. Gifted (Astonishing X-Men #1-6) – Whedon/Cassaday

66. The Dark Angel Saga (Uncanny X-Force #10-18) – Remender/Opena/Ribic/Tan

65. Weapon X (MCP #72-84) – Smith

61. The Last Iron Fist Story (Immortal Iron Fist #1-14) – Brubaker/Fraction/Aja

55. Swamp Thing #21-27 – Moore/Bissette/Totleben

43. Wolverine #1-4 – Claremont/Miller

38. Vision #1-12 – King/Hernandez/Walta

37. Secret Wars #1-12 – Shooter/Zeck/Layton

35. Planet Hulk (Incredible Hulk #92-105) – Pak/Pagulayan

33. Old Man Logan (Wolverine #66-72) – Millar/McNiven

30. The Elektra Saga (Daredevil various) Miller/Janson

24. V For Vendetta – Moore/Lloyd

22. Civil War – Millar/McNiven

16. The New Frontier – Cooke

15. Marvels – Busiek/Ross

12. Kravens Last Hunt (ASM #293-294 and SSM #131-132) De Matties/Zeck/McLeod

8. Batman The Long Halloween – Loeb/Sale

5. Batman: Year One (Batman #404-407) – Miller/Mazzucchelli

4. Born Again (Daredevil #227-233) – Miller/Mazzucchelli

3. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Miller/Janson

2. The Dark Phoenix Saga (UXM #129-137) – Claremont/Byrne

  1. Watchmen – Moore/Gibbons





Top 100 Comics CBR

Will Eisner 100

Lets talk about Will Eisner. Like Jack Kirby, Will Eisner would have been 100 years old this year. This isn’t an attack on Kirby or Kirby fans. But Eisner doesn’t seem to get the recognition. I put it down to not really working for the ‘big two’. Where as Kirby’s work is still being mined therefore introducing new readers to his work. Eisner is more for the hard core comics fan and he gets plenty of credit from the right people. I just want the everyday comics fan to read this and go away with an appreciation for the man. If Kirby is regarded as a legend, Eisner can certainly match him but is also a pioneer for all things comics.

I came to Will Eisner via Frank Miller. Master and pupil. I always pictured myself being the third one in the chain. As further reading to this blog I recommend the book ‘Eisner/Miller’ which was put out by Dark Horse in 2005. When you look back at their careers they don’t immediately seem a match. Eisner is seen as an innovator of the sequential art form. Whereas Miller at his peek was the more modern cinematic style artist. The book is a real candid look at both writers careers. They talk about everything from inspiration, comics as an industry and take shots at Bob Kane. Eisner knows the business inside out, he knows all the major players and it makes for a great read. Everyone knows he popularized the term ‘graphic novel’ with his seminal work ‘A Contract With God’. Throughout his career he has battled against the format of comics. Never understanding the standard size of comics and producing his stuff in the size of regular books. When you read about a young Frank Miller you get a sense that he sought out specific people to learn from. Eisner being one of them. At its core ‘The Spirit’ is a very simple concept that has lasted the test of time. Admittedly it should see more regular publication. Created in 1940 it is the story of a masked vigilante aiding The Police Commissioner. He fights a egomaniacal arch nemesis The Octopus and the stories are littered with scientists, henchmen and femme fatales. Any of this sound familiar? Any crime/noir comic that has come since The Spirit’s debut has drawn on the foundations Eisner laid down. None more so than Miller and his work on his creator owned ‘Sin City’. Miller also homages his mentor visually throughout his career. Often in ‘The Spirit’ Eisner would integrate text like the credits page with the landscape of the opening image. In Daredevil #170 the credits appear on pieces of litter that are blown by Daredevil running by them. For ‘A Contract With God’ Eisner went with a sepia tone. The opening scene referred to as ‘ a walk through the rain’ was homaged in ‘Sin City’ when Marv would often find himself out in the rain in all its black and white glory. Eisner claimed black and white comics draw the reader in more. This coupled with larger lettering he used were all tricks of the trade he picked up and perfect in his illustrious career. They would then be picked up and imitated by others creating a never ending circle for Eisner’s work.

Will Eisner was the Captain America of comic books. He was drafted in 41′ and he eventually became a warrant officer. He took the opportunity to start using comics as a learning tool. He created Joe Dope in the publication ‘Army Motors’. Believing the comics format would speak more to the troops in their own language and make it easier for them to digest the correct terminology. He continued to publish Joe Dope instructional comics for the duration of WWII as well as other army publications ‘Firepower’. Through the 50’s right up to 1971 he worked on ‘PS, The Preventive Maintenance Monthly’. One of his best received pamphlets was ‘M16A1 Rifle’. Used extensively in Vietnam the gun had early reliability problems and the pamphlet was popular in creating awareness in equipment maintenance. While I have no doubt Eisner would have excelled telling stories for the ‘big two’ that’s not what he wanted to do. His career was more geared towards providing a platform for others and telling more personal stories. In the 30’s and 40’s he worked with Jerry Iger running a comics packager (Eisner & Iger). They would produce comics on demand for new companies coming into the field. Jack Kirby and Bob Kane two of the most recognisable names in the industry both got their starts art Eisner & Iger. Jack Cole and Wally Wood both ghosted on The Spirit before becoming names in their own right. Will Eisner didn’t write comics to sell issues, Event comics weren’t even on his radar. For him it was about telling a story that he felt needed to be told and shared. They were often personal and based on real events from the world around him. ‘The Dreamer’ is a thinly disguised autobiographical comic charting a ‘young Eisner’s’ early pre ‘The Spirit’ career. ‘To The Heart of The Storm’  about a young boy named ‘Willie’ adapting to being part of an immigrant life in New York.

There is a lot of talk nowadays about diversity in comics. The comics industry was built on Jewish immigrants living in New York and taking their experiences and putting them into their work. Will Eisner was at the center of this. In 2003 he wrote ‘Fagin The Jew’. This was done as a response to his belief classic literature was rife with anti-sematic stereotypes. His Jewish heritage and the city of New York touch his work at every turn of the page. His most famous work as mentioned is ‘A Contract With God’. It tells the story of poor Jewish characters in the typical type of tenement building where Eisner would have spent his early days. It spawned two sequels. ‘A Life Force’ which dealt with The Depression and political themes such as Nazism and Socialism.  The trilogy was rounded off with ‘Dropsie Avenue’. A story intertwining tales of old and new residence on ‘Dropsie Avenue’ with an examination of inter-ethnic relations at its core. Eisner once said of New York “Everyone of those windows has a drama going on inside.” That quote best sums up his story telling for me. In ‘The Spirit’ Central City is quite obviously his fictionalized version of NYC. In all of his works like Gotham and Metropolis the city is a character. To him ” The city was the sewers, the curbs, the lampposts.”

At the start of this piece I mentioned Will Eisner perhaps isn’t known by a wide circle of comics readers. But he is known by the right people. At this years Lakes International Comics Art Festival ‘The Spirit of Eisner’ newspaper was launched. It is a newspaper style publication marking Eisner’s 100th birthday with his most well recognised creation The Spirit. It is only available from http://www.page45.com while stocks last. For the low price of £5 (+PP) it is a great introduction to both Eisner and The Spirit. It is bright, bold and fun. A perfect way to remember a comics legend. It is the brainchild of Sean Phillips and features a plethora of top talent. I just want to take a moment to recognise the people involved in this publication and thank them for creating more Will Eisner awareness. Becky Cloonan, Brendan McCarthy, ED Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Graham Dury, Simon Thorp, Chris Samnee, John M. Burns, Sergio Aragones, Peter Milligan, Duncan Fegredo, Seth, Jason Latour, Jonathan Ross, Bryan Hitch, Michael Cho, Julie Tait, Chris Murray, John McShane and Philip Vaughn. These are the people who know Eisner. They love and respect the man and the work they all enjoy.


Will Eisner 100

Convention Diary Part 5

Collectormania 24

Okay I was dubious about attending this con. Perhaps dubious isn’t the right word. Without sounding negative if you have been to one event put on by Showmasters you have essentially been to them all. Which is a good thing. We are after all creatures of habit. The reason I didn’t want to attend this con was because the previous 23 incarnations of Collectormania took place in my home town in a venue with free entry. It felt dirty attending! Collectormania took place in Birminghams NEC. So for me a forty minute train right, trains aren’t cheap man. But I can’t hold the good people of Showmasters responsible for that! Standard entry was £11 which compared to free seems extortionate but realistically for an event this size is more than reasonable. For me any entry of £20 better be a special experience. A goody bag thrown in at the very least.

On to the convention. The biggest advantage the NEC has over the venues previously used for Collectormania in Milton Keynes is the space. This was well laid out. I’m assuming Saturday was the busier day as the con only took place Saturday and Sunday. It didn’t feel busy because of the lay out and space. I can testify it was busy from the size of the queue getting in and the people milling about outside. The space was well utilized with vendors occupying the middle and then the signings flanking on two sides. If guests were popular there was a slight crowding on one side of the venue with queues heading back into vendors but it was minor. Over all there was no bottle necking down aisles. I was even able to find space to sit on the floor and eat/drink comfortably. You were able to get your hand stamped so you could come and go to the food vendors outside or make use of the sunshine if you had a packed lunch. There were also vendors inside hall 5 along side the convention. There was a Subway and then just a standard sandwich/snack seller. As well as a pulled pork van and a fish and chips vans. I plumped for the pulled pork. It was delicious and not terribly over priced. For £6 it was a decent sized roll crammed with pulled pork and stuffing. The pork was very succulent. That’s my Man Vs Food section over with.  For those of you familiar with the previous Collectormanias and London Film and Comic Con (From here on in CM and LFCC) I would say this weekends was bigger than previous CM’s but smaller than LFCC. For me I found it low on the era of comics I want and thus was unable to make an real dents in my Daredevil and Master of Kung-Fun runs. Perhaps at last summers LFCC I just got lucky. It was my first convention since I started collecting Master of Kung-Fu and I picked up a decent handful of issues without breaking the bank. One seller I spoke to had just acquired a stock of Master of Kung-Fu but hadn’t got them bagged and boarded in time for the con. So hopefully I’ll see them at another one soon. From them I picked up #130, #140 and #142 of Daredevil all VFN all £10. I got them for £28 in the end. There was lots of recent comics, TPB’s and a few £1 boxes. I don’t have anything against £1 but I know the majority of issues I’m looking for won’t be in there so why waste my time when they aren’t in order? I was looking for a Incredible Hulk #340 (Because I can’t afford #181) and a Daredevil #132 (First Bullseye). One guy had the Daredevil but it was in a top condition so out of my price range at £75. I also picked up two Punisher Max TPB’s from a seller with 20% sale. Both came in at £11 which is very reasonable. Also I went through a period of Punisher MAX trades being hard to find. It seems obligatory to pick up a Funko Pop at a con nowadays. I picked up two! Netflix Daredevil (£10) which I missed at LFCC last summer and Sabertooth was a steal at £7. Lastly I picked up the recent Marvel Legends Old Man Logan action figure. I paid a little more for this than I usually would at £25 but I save money on comics and I really wanted it!

Over all Collectormania 24 was a solid B+ event. Probably geared more towards film and TV fans, with plenty of toys and memorabilia. Hardcore back issue searchers like myself may not be overly pleased. With this in mind I probably would not attend yearly but if I went once in a blue moon I would find it enjoyable.


Convention Diary Part 5

FCBD 2017

Why have I not attended one of these before? I have been collecting comics for nearly twenty years now and today I popped my FCBD cherry. I make it sound like a big mystery but really it’s been nothing more than it falling on days when I’m otherwise occupied. Even the years I had a LSC I never made it. This year I was free so I contacted a friend and headed out to Close Encounters in Northampton. (www.closeencounters.co.uk).

I’ve spoken about Close Encounter on this blog before they are the nearest to a LCS I have. Two stores in two towns in each direction from me (Northampton and Bedford) and a third store opened recently in Peterborough. I get my comics online from the Bedford store but I as the Northampton one is a little larger I decided to head there for FCBD plus there is a bit more in the town to do as well. I’ve heard many a horror story of FCBD. Stories that it doesn’t increase sales, dopes asking for stuff that isn’t free and scavenger’s taking the freebies and nothing else. I can report nothing but positives from my first experience. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect going in. FCBD like a lot of things in the UK hasn’t hit the heights as things seem to do in the US. I guess each shop brings its own ideas to FCBD outside of the sanctioned books. So going in blind probably wasn’t a bad idea. On the positive side I knew I was making the trip and there were a few current trade paperbacks I was looking to pick up anyway. I’ll start by talking about that as it is not FCBD related. How fucking good is Southern Bastards? I picked up the third trade and I absolutely love this series. It is like nothing else currently on the stands. Equal parts brutal and beautiful. Jason Aaron, Jason Latour, Chris Brunner an Jared K. Fletcher keep up the incredible work.

Back to FCBD itself then. I walk straight past the monthly books as I know they are safely waiting for me a the Bedford store. I even walk past the free comics. Towards the back middle of the store is about ten long boxes of comics. I’m told they are all 50p! Time to start flicking those fingers! I’m not even a quarter of the way through when my friend asks me a question about the IDW TMNT series. I help him out best I can. I’m reading it in monthly issues he’s reading it in trades. We are at this stage miles apart. I point out the free TMNT issue on offer and grab one for myself. Then back to the long boxes. There was a vast assortment of comics on offer. Plenty of comics from the big two. Even a Captain America #25 which I was tempted to pick up and see what I could flip it for on eBay. Every publisher you can think of was in these boxes. Even ones that are long defunct. I picked up a T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #1 from Deluxe Comics. Most genres were accounted for in these 50p boxes. I mainly used the low price to pick up some oddities nothing to make any dents in my collections. I picked up Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Batman, a Wolverine one shot and a Wizard Wolverine special. Which was so old it had Dougray Scott as still attached to play Logan. In reality I could have gone through all ten boxes three times and picked out some cool stuff. The main thing was the boxes catered for everyone. It didn’t matter if you were a seasoned collector like me or if it was your first time in a comic shop. It was heart warming in a way seeing kids going through these boxes looking to piece together some issues chronologically. Also on the positive side I saw plenty of people picking up newer items like trades and figures which is all good for the store. In one corner was a selection of second hand trade paperbacks and hardcover graphic novels. There was plenty to choose from. Again good for long timers and new comers. At the lower prices I find people are more willing to try a new story. From the sanctioned free books I picked up the Guardians of The Galaxy one. Mainly for the Defenders back up which sets up the new on-going by Michael Bendis and David Marquez. The TMNT comic slots perfectly into the canon of the series and sets up their return to Dimension X. Lastly I got Keyser Soze Scorched Earth from Red 5 comics. Who knew one day The Usual Suspects would branch out into comics. I’ve only flicked through it so far and doesn’t seem to have the same vibe of the movie. I will keep an eye on the series and see if it gets closer to that continuity at any point. This comic also contained two stories the second was The Rift which seems a cool concept. Written by Don Handfield and Richard Rayner. With art by Leno Carvalho and colours by Rodrigo Fernandes. The Rift the title refers to is a rift in space and time of course as a WWII pilot crashes in modern day Kansas. It is the sort of story I would pick up as a trade as long as it is a done in one contained story. There was one free comic I couldn’t find that was on the website. The Ballard of Franklin Bonisteel. I only wanted this for the free download for a song by Robert Finlay and Dan Auerback of The Black Keys. I minor complaint from an excellent day.

Lastly as I paid me and the guy talked about how far I had come, where I get my comics (them) and how great Southern Bastards is. I got a few extra freebies thrown into my bag and it wasn’t bad stuff. Walking Dead #163. Bloodshot Reborn #1 and DKIII #2! I’m a huge Frank Miller fan so this was a nice surprise. I’m waiting to read it in one go as a trade and this has just made me more excited. Also I got one of those build your own cardboard Deadpools which was a promotional item and few years back. I’ll post it on Instagram when I’ve put it together. (Ianwells87).

All in all FCBD more first in twenty years of collecting was a fun experience. Whether I would do it every year depends on the quality of the books. That’s not to say I can’t still go and support my comic shop. I just have to weigh up travel expenses and my time table against going through 50p boxes for potential gold. That is not to say I am joining all those who scoff at FCBD. Like I said it works for certain shops more than others and each shop goes about making it its own experience. I don’t think its main aim is to shift more comics on the actual day. I think its to grow the awareness and popularity. From what I saw today its doing that.





FCBD 2017