I woke up one morning and had a dream... Could I own every single issue of Detective Comics, Batman and all of the other subtitles in the Gotham universe?
Insane? Stupid? Inspired?
This can only end in obsession and financial chaos.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Waiting Game Starts

What with the DC52 about to land in the stores (and I think we should hold a moment of respect for the poor DHL guys who'll be delivering the Diamond boxes to the poor CBGs!), one thing hit me, it might be a while until Grant Morrison Batman storyline is finished. Like, a long, long, while...

Morrison has got a few ambitious things lined after this relaunch, like the Action Comics run and the Multiversity thing that has been long talked about. And I really fear that this will have a knock on effect when I'm able to finish the Batman Incorporated storyline as a collector. Although the new issues are solicited for in early 2012, the cynic in me just gets a little bit doubtful.

Yes, I know comic books get delayed every now and again. Whether it be because of creator illness, work schedule, legal troubles, hard drive explosions, bad sales or poor lunar alignment. But I think I'm getting good at spotting trouble, a mile off...

And to prove my supernatural ability to sense pick these possible delayed titles, I feel you need to experience a few of the legendary waits that have already affected me as a collector: Throughout the comic universe, and not just in Batman.


All Star Batman and Robin #11

Issue 10 came out in Summer 2008, roughly around the same time as the Beijing Olympics. And seeing as the next Olympics are next years, that means that's a long time ago. Frank Miller had apparently written the follow up arc 'Dark Knight; Boy Wonder', but was just waiting for Jim Lee to finish his workload, and then it ought to have been seen earlier this year. Of course, Jim Lee is now a 'DC publisher' and to, be fair, is probably the busiest man in comics right now so that deadline was never going to be made.

This book has previous, continually being late since it's 2005 d├ębut. During the three years I lived in and around Bristol, I received exactly one instalment: #10. Oh well, at least I got one of the infamous Bad Language issues, by some act of divine justice!

I think that there is more chance of northern England sliding into some sort of Mad Max post-apocalyptic world controlled by super-enhanced kangaroos, than this title ever being finished.

Miracleman #25

As far as I am concerned this is the ultimate in waiting because I never expect to ever see this being released. So complex a legal minefield, that no publisher seems able to even publish these books even as reprints, therefore making the back issues quite collectible. Especially the legendary, notorious and iconic #15.

However it is the less legendary #24 (released in the summer of 1993, and picked up by me in Cardiff), which had an even lower print runs than #15, that is the tipping point (so, bear that in mind when you enter a full-on bidding war on eBay over these issues!): Eighteen years! Miracleman #25 had been pencilled, and can be obtained by file sharing, should you want to do that sort of thing. Lately, some hope arose when Marvel acquired some parts of the Miracleman intellectual property and Neil Gaiman expressed some interest in finishing his storyline. I truly doubt this would happen, and it appears I'm, so far, right.

Daredevil: Target #2

The ultimate outrage, Issue #1 came out to coincide with the 2003 Daredevil film. I was a true idiot here, I had a few quid to burn in a comic shop in Wrexham and loved the creators other stuff (Kevin Smith for the Clerks comic books and Glenn Fabry for his old 2000AD stuff), and I bought it, I wish I walked away... Even today, the book winds me up, sitting there all smug!

Kevin Smith discussed on the Daredevil DVD extras as to why it took forever for him to even write #2, even having the temerity to get peeved that Bendis started to use Bullseye in Daredevil proper, therefore breaking a gentleman's agreement over his exclusivity of the Bullseye character. Issue 2, was apparently written, although Fabry had walked away from the project (and who could blame him?) and if you look around on the net you might come across bits of it. However, with no chance of this ever being finished you shouldn't bother bother wasting your time looking for it, and then reading it. Life is too short.

Make me wonder that if Arsenal FC are refunding their fans after the 8-2 away day mullering, maybe Marvel could do something similar for this book.


Although there is times when the wait is justified, and the pay-off is all okay...

PunisherMAX.

Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon went into a project trying to replace the dark spectre of a rather dominant vision of the title made by former writer Garth Ennis, and this was quite a tall ask. To their credit, they were well on the way to achieving this until Issue 9, when it simply disappeared. This one sneaked up on me, I remember filing a few old Punisher War Zone's into the appropriate longbox, and then it struck me that it had been a while since I last saw a new MAX.

Seven months later, and explained away by Aaron that Dillon had firstly not been well and was then committed to a higher profile project (I think, Ultimate Avengers 3- he probably was better paid for this book so fair play to him), it returned with #10 as if a beat had not been missed. Regular as clockwork at the moment, and one of my favourite comic books.

Powers

Intermittently released by creator owners Mike Oeming and Brian Bendis. So I picked up the last issue of Volume3 in November 2008, fell in love with it, bought all the back issues and then... nothing. I knew I was in for the wait when the two upcoming covers (#31 + #32) suddenly disappeared from Bendis' website

Volume 3 appeared in late 2009, and seven issues later I'm into a seven month wait for #8. To be fair, Oeming does a lot of other cool things while Bendis writes roughly seven million individual titles for Marvel, so I'm not really surprised this takes it's time. When it appears it really is good value. Although, I can't help thinking that with a TV adaptation on the horizon, that these guys might cost themselves a lot of money in sales if they don't release a lot of 'Powers' around the same time.


I hope I'm wrong. That this time next year, I can be actually blogging about how Batman Incorporated is coming along nicely. But I genuinely think, that that blog will start with the words: Told, So, You. Just not in that order.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Gotham Event Reading Order: 'Officer Down'

So here is the first Event Storyline that I ought to try to complete before continuing upon my reading order of the world of Batman.

This is the reading order of the 2001 event: 'Officer Down'.

Part 1- Batman #587
Part 2- Robin #86
Part 3- Birds of Prey #27
Part 4- Catwoman #90
Part 5- Nightwing #53
Part 6- Detective Comics #754
Part 7- Gotham Knights #13

Hitting a Narrative Wall

As part of my ongoing attempt to get as much value out of buying Batman online as possible, I was able to pick up a run of B(1940) and 'Tec. These were issues that when combined with issues that I already had, created a run. This run started straight after 'No Man's Land', it meant that I was able to read over a years worth of stuff, and have something fresh to blog about. Then I hit a roadblock. Suddenly, I picked up Batman #587 and noticed it was Part 1 of 'Officer Down', a proper, main-event Gotham storyline arc.

These kind of event story arcs occur roughly every eighteen months. The editorial pitch to the Batman readership for the usual event story arc is that this storyline is so massive, and so important to the Gotham City world, that it cannot be contained in merely just one title, nor two. Nope, this story has to feature in ALL the Batman family of titles. So to get the full picture, DC editors ask, you have to buy them all... And like a sucker, I do, even after ten years since they were published. I'll then have to prioritise this Batman Quest in order to get these freaking books, so I can read this wondrous event.

I know. This is not the act of a sane man.

While on the whole, I don't mind this kind of event storytelling (especially as I am buying all the back issues anyway, at a greatly reduced price; just for sheer hell of it, I might add.) and am appreciative of how sometimes the flow of the story often feels wholly dis-jointed (for example, as the second part of the story is seen through another characters eyes, it always reflects a different creative teams voice therefore changing the central narrative voice) in different titles. I do, however, admire the ambition and editing skills of the guys at DC in order to make this kind of story coherent and, usually an, enjoyable read. Of course, these fellows have had a lot of practice doing this sort of story, as the editors have been churning them out for fairly regularly for nearly two decades.

My main feelings about the Gotham Event Storyline as a Batman reading experience is that it often presents me with a collecting problem. This is the completest in me, bubbling to the surface. Finishing the event storyline soon becomes a mini-quest in it's own right, and by God, I will collect them all!

I'm sure I'm not the only reader of Batman that holds these feelings. So I'm starting a kind of Reader's Guide feature. So when I, or anyone else reading this blog, comes up against these multi-parted, multi-titled Gotham Event story arcs, then at least they'll/I'll have a reference point as to what Part of the story belongs in what Title. So you, and I, don't just blunder half way through and think what the hell is going on.

I'm pretty certain that my Reading Guide to 'No Man's Land' will be something to behold...

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Same Bat Blog, Different Bat Domain

You know when something starts to take over your life when you feel obliged to change the Domain Name of your Blog, all because people need to know the level of my stupidity.

After what seemed like a ludicrous amuount of time throwing outrageous tantrums (because the Blogger and Godaddy guides to sort this thing are a little out of date) to sort out this Domain change, I'm now even more determined than ever to finish this bastard quest.

So if you haven't been here before, and thinking what the hell is this guy prattling on about. This is www.thebatmanquest.com.

This is my attempt to collect every issue of every Batman title. And while enjoying every single carefully crafted page of the iconic Caped Crusader, I will continue to bitch about how I should be doing something better with my life.

And I've even gotten round to sorting out a bespoke email, should you want to contact the site:

thebatmanquest@hotmail.co.uk

So welcome to my world!




Favourites: Anarky

There is no doubt that Alan Grant's most favourite Gotham City creation during his time as Batman writer was Anarky (I know Norm 'My Favourite Batman Artist' Breyfogle is equally important, and his art in this miniseries is top drawer, but this one is all about Alan Grant!). What we have got here is a Batman story as used as a vehicle for political discourse and subversion. And, as you probably guessed, I like that!

Anarky first appeared in Detective Comics #608 (September 1989. Visually, Anarky is a heady mixture of an Emperor's Royal Guard out of Star Wars and 'V' out of Alan Moore's iconic 'V for Vendetta'. As an aside, I recall reading somewhere that 'V' is an acknowledged inspiration for Anarky. In this comic the masked alter ego of Lonnie Machin is a fifteen year old, multi-millionaire who has utilised 'self discipline and rigorous application of rational thought so that the right and left hemispheres of his brain have become fused'. In short, he's a bright, wealthy young rebel with a revolutionary cause. Grant has always made this character's moral compass a Grey area to the reader- he is neither a hero, nor a true villain. While Anarky has a long history of criminal activity, these have tended to be against corporations and other's that the character perceives as being against the spirit of his political activism. In fact, I struggle to remember any incident where Anarky actually commits murder (and if you look at the body counts of other Batman villains, then this point is pretty astounding).

This was published in 1997 (although available in TPB, should you want it and you should), Alan Grant was nearing the end of the his legendary Batman run, and somewhere along the line he decided to make his Anarky 4 issue spin off miniseries something quite ambitious. Something a bit special.

Essentially, the basis of the miniseries is that Anarky decides that to nullify the world's evil, whom Anarky identifies and personifies as 'Parasites' (after a series of interviews with Evil characters chief among them is Darkseid, he is able to make this conclusion, although one is led to believe that a lot of the questions are very rhetorical, indeed designed to reinforce his own conclusions). This evil, Anarky decides, can only be eradicated from society by 'De-Brainwashing Gotham'. To do this he builds, and plans to use, a mind-machine that allows the people of Gotham (and inevitably the people of the world!) to 'experience pure, uncorrupted consciousness.' Therefore creating an evil-free utopia. Of course, the Batman foils this subversive, dangerous threat to the people of Gotham.

This hokey plot disguises the true genius of the real subtext of the story. This is the discussion of Man's relationship with contemporary western society, and how a better world can be achieved by new thinking and ideology. That any man who proclaims himself as a saviour of the world (or indeed the creator of a change in this new world) is, simply, way too dangerous to be trusted. Here, Anarky has defined evil (by doing his own research), he has decided that he the good (in profound Shakespearean moments of proclamation), and that everyone should now follow him to his utopia. And that there is no need to discuss this change, no need to seek consensus, because any objections are not valid. Afterall, Anarky is certain he knows best. The path to this utopian plan is prophetically signposted by the end of #1, where we are shown Anarky's secret shrine to those that have fallen under failed political experiments (ie. '10 million dead in Stalin's Russia). It is that in this confusing moment that it becomes clear to the reader that although Anarky's plan is well meaning and noble, it is actually confused and full of contractions. Indeed, Batman's true purpose in this story is to blatantly point out the contradictions of Anarky's own political agenda and to how he wants to get there. Batman is truly presented as the hero, he is the only one that can prevent the dangers of politcial/utopian experiments.

Indeed, the contradictions of Anarky are everywhere. He uses Big Brother CCTV to protect his belongings from burglars. He essentially appeals to the greed of the 'common worker' to ensure that building work is fully undertaken. He wishes to eradicate Evil, yet to achieve this he enslaves and sacrifices a demon. He learns his lesson though, as he is haunted by a vision of the apocalypse he created. In short, Anarky has convinced himself the genius of his plan without thinking through the possibilities of Rumsfeld unknown unknowns. He needs to be taught a lesson.

This lesson is taught when Anarky suffers a vision caused by his own machine. It causes Anarky into 'reading the life' of a character that is deeply affected by his new De-Brainwash Gotham. This new life story is an account made by the candidate for the US Senate, Edward Lussky. He is deemed very quickly a ' parasite' because he failed Anarky's own written 'Parasite Test'. He is then imprisoned in a food-less and money free Ghetto (the comparisons to the Nazi's Warsaw Jewish Ghetto, are blatantly spelled out- No messing around here.). Lusskey's story ends in a profound statement; after renouncing violence (therefore, showing himself to be good after all, and making a mockery of the original test), he is gunned down and concludes that any new political direction will 'always ends with a bunch of maniacs trying to rule the world'. This vision remedies the arrogance of Anarky when he emerges from the vision, he grasps the dangers of his new world vision.

As a BScEcon graduate I love this stream of political thought, discussion and activism. I especially enjoyed the issues own political history lecture (to which are all featured throughout this Blog, for you to enjoy in their subversive glory), which pop up almost like one page adverts halfway through the issue (and are presented here so you too can be fully subverted!). Because these lectures are not needed for the plot, it is simple to suggest that these are Alan Grant's lectures to his readership about his interpretation of the real world. By getting Anarky to break through 'the Forth Wall' (as they say in the TV-land) and using a dog as another audience member (the dog is like the reader, you see, whom Anarky would perceive as also being led by the leash). Basically Alan Grant dares the reader to question his/her own knowledge, and in doing so wishes to then enlighten the reader. That is why there is 'suggested reading' after every issue. You know a writer is as serious as a heart-attack when he dishes out homework at the end of comic book! To get away with something this bold and preachy, yet make the whole work very easily enjoyable, is the proof that Alan Grant really is a truly great writer.

The age of the character is also very interesting, While Alan Moore's 'V' is a grown man, 'Anarky' is a teenager. Why is this important? The use of young characters has been important for publishers as it helped link a character with a key demographic audience. For example, the basic idea of Robin (and all the other superhero kid-sidekicks that came after), was that a young readership would relate to that character, and therefore bond on an emotional level with the title if they could see readers the same age involved in the adventure. Once this relationship is established, then a loyal, specifically targeted, readership will follow. The target audience of the 1990's Batman comic seems to have been male teenagers (for example, Robin #3: “the teen wonder”), it therefore follows that the audience ought to be reading about characters their own age, which Anarky clearly is. Anarky is also made more important, and dangerous, because he engages the full attention of Batman (and, therefore not reduced to merely being Robin canon fodder, as would be the logical use of the character), and that he is a fully switched-on political activist at only fifteen years old. And that says a lot of where what Alan Grant wanted to do with the character's creation. He had designed a teenage character that was saying to a teenage audience 'everything you think you know is a lie' and that there are other political solutions to governance than what you are originally, or indeed are being, taught... Trust me, if Alan Grant tried this in the 1950's or early sixties, I'm sure that the wiry Scot would be hounded out of the industry by politicians with pitchforks.

Now, I want to tell you why I love these books. I seriously do not believe that this comic would be published today (less than 15 years later). And I think the proof for this statement is to look at the uproar created in the US regarding Captain America #602 'Teabag the Tea Party' caption. If this story was published today in Batman I'm sure that FOX News, and those of a similar political persuasion would be demanding that this be pulped, on the grounds that this is way too subversive for teenage boys. I was a teenage boy when I first came across Anarky in Batman. And I can categorically say... It is.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Annual Issue 2: Batman Annual #11



Alan Moore, as far as I am aware, has only written a handful of Batman Stories. One of these is an almost forgotten tale that featured in Batman Annual #11, and was released in 1987.

Clayface falls in love with a mannequin he sees in a department store window. Because Clayface is a bit deranged to start with, he believes that her alluring gaze as a sign of affection and then decides to move in. While secretly living under a table during opening hours, his new relationship blossoms and sours. Of course, jealousy and murder is the only real outcome and the Batman has to come in and sort out this domestic arrangement.

To be fair, I'm not really doing the story justice. It's very dark, it has got a chilling underlying nastiness about the situation, that implies abuse. And any story involving a man involved in an intense, implied sexual relationship with a life-size doll is just, plain, wrong... This Moore tale is simply 23 pages of what a mentally sick Batman villain gets up to when he isn't trying to take over Gotham (and then the world).

What I love out of this story is that this is the Alan Moore that I enjoy the most; the humorous subversive Alan Moore. Sure, I love his serious work, but if you offer me a choice between Promethea or, say, Smax, then I'm going for Smax every time. And this story has that similar darkly comic, almost deviant quality. While funny and charming, it still retains a lot of the aforementioned menace and that's what makes it memorable. While the situation and storyline smells of farce, the captions ensure that behind the lunacy, Clayface really turns out to be a really nasty piece of work. Illustrating that this is the reason that Batman cannot, and should not, leave him alone in peace.

Further proof, that some some Annuals can actually be rather good. And for a whole in one experience they can be a thoroughly wondrous thing.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Easter Eggs all over Gotham City


Okay, Easter Egg time.

This is the map of Gotham City that appears in No Man's Land #1.

If you want to read the entire, fascinating story of how it was commissioned I recommend that you visit Eliot R. Brown's site, as he was the evil mastermind that drew it. And, frankly, his shots of the map are miles better than mine.

A couple of things to note here, the names of all the streets, the buildings. If you care about nods to Batman's writers, artists and editors then this is a big, fat, melting pile of chocolate Easter Egg!

I'm quite fond of maps, which I'll admit is a bit strange, so I love this. I certainly love the tributes to Alan Grant, Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench, especially as their tenure of being the key 1990's writing team in Gotham was just about ending.

One thing definitely appear to be missing: No Cauldron. This is the particularly nasty area of Gotham where, according to the 60 issue run of 'Hitman', was where all the Irish migrants moved to. Of course, it's omission begs the question: Has this map effectively ret-conned out Ennis & McRea's Tommy 'Hitman' Monaghan from Gotham City folklore?

Monday, 15 August 2011

Supergods: Read It. It's Rather Good.

After reading way too much Grant Morrison Batman earlier this summer, I needed a break. I was genuinely surprised that there was hundreds of themes and ideas in those books. I'm sure that after reading these books and the other series, I will find a lot more. From a long-time comic readers standpoint, Grant Morrison's Batman run is thoroughly entertaining. However it is fair to say that these are almost comics for the fanboy connoisseur. These are not books that can be read in the bath, slightly pissed Stella Artois 4%.

So, denied the opportunity to re-read Batman and Robin (or indeed the other GM Batman works, as they, indeed 95% of the comic collection, are in storage), I ordered and read 'Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero in three days last week. This, to me, was great stuff. There is the right mix of Comic Book (and more specifically Superhero) History and writers biography. Indeed, I was genuinely surprised to not remember him burying anybody. And the three page review of Joel Schumachers' 'Batman & Robin' made me laugh out load. So, if you haven't bought it yet, it is wholeheartedly recommended.

One thing, that came out of it that made me think: Whoa. And not in a good way.

This was Morrison's take on the outrage that 'Batman RIP' provoked. Now, I was only really starting to re-take an interest in Batman around this time, and I do remember there truly was a lot of mainstream publicity of Batman being killed off. I remember saying to a civilian friend when he asked me if I was going to buy the last ever Batman. I surprised him with my response: that there was no way in hell DC Comics would permanently kill off one of their biggest cash cows! I'm old enough to remember how Superman died, it took over a year, but he did eventually recover from being dead.

Most comic fans 'get this'. We're a cynical bunch, really. We get it that the publishers will use a lot of ruses to get us to put our hands in our pockets and pay a couple of quid for their books. We fall for the marketing campaigns hook, line and sinker. I'll even admit, that even after a proper rant about the DC Re-Thingy, that I'm excited to know what happens in Action Comics #1. But in short, I get it. It's just a comic.

Sadly, not everyone gets it. According to Grant Morrison he actually received Death Threats over RIP.

Death Threats? Just take a minute to let that one settle in...

Death Threats. Maybe this is not news to anyone, maybe I missed this original news thread about this. It is certainly news to me. What the Hell?

In the name of all that is holy, this is only a comic book character.

I enjoy Batman, I love the world creation of Gotham City. So much so, that the Batman Quest, if ever finished, will be quite an excellent thing. Yes, it will take years, and a lot of money. But I am not, nor will ever be, a zealot for this thing. And I sure as hell won't be threatening to kill anyone over the plight of this creation. I think that there is more important things to worry about on Planet Earth. And more pressing concerns that need to be, and can be, addressed on Plane Earth than Batman.

It is this context that I thoroughly understand Grant Morrison's views about leaving the internet fan community, so the lunatics can run their own asylum. And he's right, I see this lunacy all over comic book forums. Occasionally, a holier-than-thou attitude appears and anger erupts over the smallest statement or opinion. For example, I've lost count about how many times CBR have had to end a thread about Miller & Lee's 'All Star Batman and Robin', because it degenerates into outrageous insults and libellous slurs. This is an attitude I have no patience for, and do everything I can avoid to get involved with.

And over what? A fictional character.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Crossovers: Batman/Spawn: War Devil


In comics when a successful crossover occurs, there is always a sequel just begging to be released.

In the case of Batman and Spawn there was less a sequel and more of a return match.

The first Spawn/Batman was a regular comic superstar-slug-fest. Miller and McFarlane took two characters that were synonymous with their comic creating endeavours, whacked the volume up to eleven and probably bought new cars with this very Image-like outcome (and I mean that in a good way).

'War Devil' definitely is not an Image book, this is a DC comic and it involved the holy writing trinity of 1990's Batman: Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon and Alan Grant (art was by Klaus Janson, a note of interest as he was involved with Frank Miller's DKR project). I can only assume Moench got top billing because he did the majority of the writing on this book. Anyway, there were a few ways this book could have gone...

This is a book that healthily sums up all of the various ideas and themes throughout the Trinities work. Hokum, for sure, but this was the 1990's and this stuff was always interesting. So what themes and concepts have we got? Satanism, Conspiracy Theories, Tyrannical Moguls, Buildings as Symbols of Power. All the big budget tricks are here: Historical mysteries, Pentagrams carved into Gotham and Assassinations. We've got a walking army of skeletons, Transforming demons. Oh, and fire, a lot of hellfire.

Like the Miller/McFarlane prequel, this has been written as a simple, fun one shot that had no basis on continuity or achieves any bigger purpose (hell, they even totally ignore the other book). It's a horror tale, pure and simple. But what it does do is actually make Al 'Spawn' Simmons a more rounded character, and a man dealing with the mistakes, or decisions of his own past. Spawn, here is dealing with his demons, because he works for demons, and is indebted to demons, it is only natural that he hopes to overcome these demons.

There could be more blatant finger-wagging by Moench, Dixon and Grant at the Image-creation (or indeed the path Image Comics were taking the industry), but they don't do it. However, there is a feeling of one-upmanship here; at it's heart they've taken MacFarlane's creation, added a proper grown up story arc and added character development to Al Simmons that 'Spawn', as a comic title, always promised in the 1990's but never delivered upon. Indeed this story doesn't actually need Batman at all, and he only really is there to deliver this line at the end:

“Good and evil are not determined by the intercourse of people with one another, but entirely by a man's relationship with himself”. For me, it's like Moench et al are using Batman to say to Image you've got a cool character here that can really go places, don't mess it up!

The book ends with hope. Spawn can successfully achieve redemption by doing the right thing, and in (a comic book way) doing so become a proper superhero that is personified by Batman. As Batman jumps off into the Gotham night, it's almost as if Spawn is straining himself not to follow him. And that is significant in itself.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Visited Manchester Comic Con, Meh...


Maybe I'm getting old.

Maybe I'm not down with the kids anymore.

Maybe I was expecting something a bit more, what's the word, Awesomer.

So I went to Manchester Comic Con on the 30th July and was terribly underwhelmed.

It started well. The security/crowd control was totally first rate outside Manchester Central...

Then I got into the Con.

Look, I wasn't expecting San Diego to be thrown deep into north-west England. And I am not by any stretch of the imagination a veteran at these things (virginity broken, I think, in Cardiff about a billion years ago), I was just expecting something that wasn't this.

So, I'll try to take the positives out of the experience. Firstly, I'd pre-arranged with Incognito Comics (highly recommended for those looking for cool stuff online in the UK) to pick up a bag of goodies, and pay for it there. And then I got to meet John McCrea and he got this done for me! He did, though, subtly asked to leave him alone so he could finish it...

And then I struggled to spend any more money. So my Con experience lasted approximately three hours and this included the cup of coffee I had outside. And I was dragging it all out.

So, me being the kind of guy I am, these would be my recommendations to the organisers of this thing next year (and I promise that I won't take a consultancy fee);


1. More room at the venue. I thought it was small, I know I'm six foot of testosterone-filled muscle, but avoiding guys with capes and women with tails, with my natural poise and gracefulness becomes tiring after a while. The event space was laughably bad.

2. More exhibitions. They really struggled to get anyone in and it showed. There were the regular guys you'd expect to see at these things (Craig Charles, and the bloke who was in R2-D2 for example), some older footballer and some stalls. Diamond were exhibiting (Well I think they were exhibiting, it was like seeing a car showroom with no cars). Couldn't the organisers rustle up some help from other UK comic players? No 2000AD? no D.C. Thomson? no FP?

3. Manga dominated this event, which is fair enough. But, I was itching to burn some cash on American comic books, and walked away with two cheapo X-Men hardbacks. Maybe, it's just me: but aren't Comic Con's supposed to be about, y'know, comics. All comics. I could think of at least three comic retailers that would've loved to take up a few tables if they had been asked.

4. More and better creators. While I appreciate the British big players tend to do San Diego and other American Cons, it can't have taken a genius to look around and find some UK based talent. Meeting John McCrea was cool, but the other didn't exactly inspire me. I'd have loved to met any of the following: Pat Mills, John Wagner, Sean Phillips, Warren Ellis, Alan Grant, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill or Simon Bisley. One of those must have been available?


5. C'mon guys! A television showing trailers is not an exhibition. That's just laziness.

I know that this sounds like a total bitching here. But the organisers really missed a true opportunity to make this Manchester show really awesome. And I think that I might not be the only one with a sour taste in my mouth. God knows what the guys who waited over an hour, in the boiling sun, to get in must have thought of the experience later that day.

It reminded me of a company that I used to work for. This company, based inside the
M25, somehow got it into it's head that there was no culture, no interest and no money outside of London. This meant that nothing cool in the range ever came to other parts of the country, parts of the country that were crying out for this stuff. Basically the company cost themselves an awful lot of money by not being ambitious enough, although they kept telling everybody (in their usual standard, uncaring way) that they were always testing the market (although blatantly ignoring their own staff about the said market).

And this is what this event felt like: just an experiment. The event organisers must have group-thunk themselves into thinking that people outside London had very little reading ability. That people in the north still walk around in flat-caps with their whippets. That we still use imperial money.

The trouble they have here is that I won't go next year, because this show was so really, really underwhelming. I was originally exited before the event, as were a few others in the Que, and this excitement was not fully rewarded.
Well, at least I got an original Hitman out of it!

Monday, 1 August 2011

The Batman Quest: The Haul July 2011

Batman: 561, 562, 696, 697, 698, 703, 704, 705, 706, 707,
'Tec: 716, 819, 820, 824. 836, 865, 866
LotDK: 182, 188, 194, 199, 200, 202, 208 COMPLETED!
Batman: Street of Gotham:1-21 COMPLETED!
Batman Inc: #7:
Red Robin: 6
Bruce Wayne The Road Home: Red Robin
Huntress
(vol1): 1, 2, 3, 4,
Robin: 135, 136, 138, 163, 164, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 175, 176, 180,
Robin Annual: #7 (2007)
Nightwing: 35, 107, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 147, 148, 149, 151,

There were more than a few milestones in the Quest this month:

1. I finished the longest comic book series I've ever attempted: The Legends of the Dark Knight. I started this book during the early nineties with Issues 2, 3, 4, and 5. Over the years I've trawled eBay and comic shops to finish it. And now I have proof that it is possible to pull together nearly 20 years of a title.
2. Using the last of my eBay+ points (and this little incentive will be greatly missed by me) I was able to pick up a complete 21 issue set of Batman: Streets of Gotham, a load of Nightwing, Robins and Huntress for a very decent price.
3. By visiting the Manchester Comic Con over the weekend, more on that tomorrow, I was able to push my longest consequential B(40) run up to 150 issues, while my uninterrupted Detective Comics run is pushed up to 151 issues. Sad, I know, but for me these cricket score facts make me believe that I may actually be making progress in this Quest.