TMNT Signed Issues

So, earlier this year I posted some photos bragging about the gems of my comic collection. They are first printings of issues two, three and four of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. They are framed and hanging on the wall of my office and look pretty nice I must say! Well, I’ve been meaning to get to this for some time now, but these books have actually become MORE awesome! I know it is hard to believe, but it is true! Back in the spring, on Free Comic Book Day, both Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, as well as several others who were involved in the original comics were all in the area. Eastman was hanging out down at Jetpack Comics in Rochester, New Hampshire and Laird was in Wells, Maine at Shellback Artworks, a little place run by Steve Lavigne, who did art, coloring and almost all the lettering for the original series.

I took the whole family down to Rochester to participate in the FCBD festivities and brought along my books in hopes of getting them signed by Eastman. Unfortunately lots of people had this same desire and the line was ridiculously long. With a baby and three kids in tow it was not going to work out to wait in line for a couple hours so I decided to skip the signing. Well, my good buddy and comic book guru, Michael Edgecomb, was waiting in line ahead of me, and, out of the kindness of his heart, said he would take my books along to get them signed. What a good dude! A good dude, indeed, because he didn’t just get my books signed by Eastman, he took them along with him to Shellback as well and got them signed by Laird and Lavigne. Seriously, huge thanks to him for hooking me up!

So, without further ado, here are my three little beauties all lined up nicely along the wall of my office:




Aren’t they pretty?

If you need ANYTHING in comics, Michael is the guy to talk to, he has found me several things that I was unable to locate on my own. You can hook up with him on Facebook or on his blog, Mr. Maczaps Comics. Seriously, he is a good guy, gives me great deals, and is always, as in the case above, willing to go above and beyond to help me out!


By: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

I’m not going to give this book my regular treatment, discussing the plot and my opinion of the book, since a) you know the plot and b) I would sound like an idiot sharing my opinions on such a classic piece of literature. What i will do is talk about the things that I normally think about when reading classic literature, the way I determine whether I will enjoy it or not, and how those things applied specifically to Frankenstein.

Let me start by saying that if I read a classic and don’t enjoy it, I tend to assume the fault is in me, and not in the book, and therefore, the following apply more to if I was able to enjoy reading the book, rather than if the book was “good” since I think we can safely say that a book which has been added to the canon of “Classic Literature” is pretty outstanding.

First of all, to enjoy a classic, I need to be able to read it. This is obvious, if you can’t read it, you probably can’t enjoy reading it. When I say I need to be able to read it, I don’t mean that it has to be in English, that should be a given. I mean that I have a hard time reading a book that has very lofty vocabulary or very old difficult structures. If I can’t get “flowing” when I read, I can’t get into the story and enjoy the book. I have learned over time that patience can sometimes be rewarded. I don’t like to write off a book before getting at least about a quarter of the way through it. Frankenstein is a great example of the value of patience. At first I thought the language was too out of reach in the way it was written, but as I got farther into the book, this became less and less of a distraction, to the point where I didn’t even notice it probably about half way through.

Another area that I struggle in with classics is the cultural perspectives of the author and a lack of ability to relate. Some books I just don’t get what people are doing and why they are doing it (this is very often true with more current books, but I will just toss those if I don’t get them, no need to try to push through with those). If stuff happens and people do things and I don’t get why or their reasons seem ridiculous, this can throw a roadblock up for me and make it hard for me to get invested in the story. Again, when this happens I blame myself, or better yet, the gap between my culture and that of the author, I don’t assume it is bad writing. In Frankenstein I came across this a couple times, in things like the fact that he was going to marry his cousin that he grew up with like a sister. That seemed weird, but ultimately the big ideas of the book made sense to me. The idea of creating the object of your destruction. The virtues of love and the ugliness of revenge and fear and loneliness. These are pretty universal and outshine the minor cultural differences between my world and Frankenstein’s.

Lastly, pace is important to hold my attention. Lots of classics are just too long and contain far too many asides for me to stick with them. I blame my short attention span. Coming in at right around 250 pages, there is no extra fat in Frankenstein. It is all story, and it is told at a rather breakneck speed. I actually was surprised when I reached the end, not expecting it so soon.

Frankenstein is a classic that I was able to enjoy. I was able to really get into the story and felt the feelings of the monster and of Dr. Frankenstein and the people around him. I felt his despair as he realized his creation had destroyed his life. I understood his ups and downs as he tried to live a normal life, knowing that the creature was out and about but knowing that his depression was hurting his family. I liked the parts that described nature (which I normally wouldn’t) because they contrasted the monster so well. I liked that the monster was deceptive and hypocritical but seemed to think he was good and blamed others for his evil. I liked that the whole thing wasn’t about the creation of the monster, but about the aftermath, and I especially liked that it didn’t have a nice neat happy ending.

This is a classic that I would recommend people try out.


By: Joe Hill

So, I am a pretty big fan of Joe Hill, son of Stephen King (yes, THAT Stephen King). I became acquainted with him through his comic series, Locke and Key. If you haven’t read these and like comics, check them out, they are very cool. Since getting into Locke and Key I have read a couple of Hill’s novels including Heart-Shaped Box and Horns, so I was pretty excited when I saw that he had another book coming out.

Synopsis: NOS4A2 is about Vic, a girl who can travel across a magical covered bridge to find things that have been lost. She learns about this special ability when she is a young girl and her parents are fighting over a bracelet her mother had lost. Vic takes off on her bike to get away from her parents and feels drawn to a covered bridge. When she crosses she is in the town where they had vacationed and goes into the restaurant they ate at, where the cook gives her the bracelet the mother had left behind.

Over time Vic realizes that she is not the only person with this special ability. She meets a girl who has magic scrabble tiles which tell her the future. She also learns about Charlie Manx, a man with a magic Rolls-Royce (with the license plate number NOS4A2) that takes him to an imaginary place called Christmasland. Unfortunately Mr. Manx doesn’t use his special ability for what most of us would consider good ends. He steals children and takes them to Christmasland.

Vic ends up on a  collision course with Manx when he steals her son to take him to Christmasland. Vic must outrun the law, who think she is the culprit in the disappearance of her son, to get to Manx and her son before it is too late.

My Opinion: I love that Hill is not afraid to tell really wild stories. Lots of more recent horror stuff feels the need to have some kind of gritty realism. Hill isn’t afraid to go deep into the fantastical places of his imagination, and I really like that. He builds whole worlds within single volumes and he does it well.

Also, Hill is younger and his writing style is younger and his characters tend to be younger (Don’t think teens, think mid-twenties and early thirties). I like this. His characters are flawed, but that isn’t anything new. But, they are flawed in a way that relates to a younger crowd. They have depression, and deal with anxiety and awkwardness around the opposite sex and fear of failure and all that stuff that I don’t know if other authors grab quite so well. Sometimes you feel like the writing is immature, but then you realize that it is actually the character that is immature, and that is pretty impressive. That all sounds kinda weird, but it’s almost as if you relate to the characters better because you don’t always get the way they act, because you don’t always get the way immature people act, so it feels real in that way.

That is all general praise for Hill, but NOS4A2 is his biggest book so far and I think improves on both of those fronts over his previous novels (although Locke and Key is mostly on par in these areas).

One of the coolest things about NOS4A2 is how it ties in lots of other books, both by Hill himself, and by his dad, Stephen King. Before even picking up the book, I thought the evil car idea sounded very familiar, but when you actually start reading it you come across explicit references. I came across the first of these tie-ins fairly early in the book and thought it was just sort of a nod at his dad and his fans, then it came up more and more and I realized Hill was actually filling out the world of NOS4A2 and all these other books, by explaining how this special ability is the reason that a bunch of mysterious things happen in places like Derry, mentioning Pennywise directly, and the doors to Mid-World of the Dark Tower series. He also ties to Locke and Key, Horns, and Heart-Shaped Box. I love all this! It seems from interviews that Hill was just trying to be funny, but you still gotta love it from a guy who didn’t even want people to know he was King’s son just a few years ago.

NOS4A2 is a really fun book to read. Not overly scary, but definitely has some intense page-turning sections. If I felt like there was any problem at all, it was the big confrontation at the end between Vic and Manx. It felt somewhat anticlimactic. You know how you hold your breath for that big moment when you can finally let it go? I didn’t feel that moment. It was kinda like my breath just slowly eased back out, but honestly the more I think about it, the more I realize that it was kinda unsettling. I never felt that moment when everything was ok again, and maybe that’s a good thing. This is a great book to read right now with Halloween coming up and Christmas in the not too distant future. It’ll make it hard for you to hear Christmas songs without looking over your shoulder!


Written by: Garth Ennis
Drawn By: Steve Dillon

I am going to talk about this as a complete series, since that was how I read it and it is written as one long story arch anyway, so no real need to split it up among TPB volumes.

Preacher is a series that was done by Vertigo back in the 90s and, in my opinion, is everything awesome about the 90s in comic book form. You have some ultra-violence, some antihero action, some morally ambiguous characters that you love, but shouldn’t. a little rock and roll, drug abuse, boobs, and probably the best part, just a little fun irreverence (as in, the whole plot of the story).

So the story follows this guy, Jesse Custer, who starts out as a preacher who kind of hates the job and hates the people he shepherds. He likes to drink and smoke and generally have a good time. Well, during a sermon, he gets hit with this crazy power. Everyone in the church dies, but he walks away. Apparently when demons and angels do the nasty, their spawn is a being with basically the same powers as God. When that spawn, known as Genesis, possesses a person that person gains the ability to make people do whatever he says. Pretty friggin sweet! That is what happens to Jesse Custer, The Preacher.

Once endowed with/possessed by Genesis, Jesse goes on a journey to find God, not in like a metaphysical sense, in the God-abandoned-heaven-and-is-hiding-on-earth sense. God gave up on humanity and heaven and all that, and decided to take a little vacation. Jesse aims to find him and set him straight.

Jesse and his friends, long lost love Tulip, and hard partying vampire Cassidy, journey all over the world, fighting mutant rednecks, a whole religious/political secret underground, an undead cowboy assassin, various angels, and, oh yeah, don’t forget arseface!

The story is ridiculously absurd, but super fun and easy to read. There is a ton of humor. Great storytelling. All around great series that is well worth the read. If you are new to the comic world, or are looking for a good story to try out, I would definitely give this a shot, assuming you are not easily offended.

DIY: Storing Comics in Old File Cabinet

I have been trying to figure out a better way to store my comics besides those ugly long boxes that have to hide in the closet. I thought a file cabinet would be cool, but they aren’t really the right dimensions for storing a row of books. I saw a couple things online about either using a legal paper file cabinet and storing two rows, or sort of criss-crossing books. I didn’t have a legal paper cabinet available and I didn’t really like the criss-cross idea, so I decided to just kinda do my own thing. This is the result. It’s super simple and basic, but I couldn’t find anywhere online where anyone was showing how to do it, so I am filling that gap. Hope this helps!

So I had this old file cabinet that I was given. They are pretty easy to come across either free or really cheap on craigslist.


But, as you can see, the problem with a file cabinet is that it is a little wide for comics:


So I just grabbed an old box and cut out some pieces to make an insert. The dimensions are below the image.


  • Long pieces are as long as your file cabinet, and are about 5 1/2″ tall. They are each cut with a notch on both sides. The notches should be approximately 2″ from the ends and as all the notches will be, about 1/8″ thick. I cut the notches about 3″ deep.
  • End pieces should be 16″ wide (if your cabinet is the same 12″ width as mine) and about 9″ tall. To fit your comics nice and snug, the end pieces should have the notches cut from center about 3 7/8″ on each side, for a total width of 7 3/4″ (you can check the math, I think it’s right!). Each end piece should have 2 inches folded over on both sides. so that the total width is now 12″ like the file cabinet! I cut these about 2″ deep

Then you put them together and this is what you get:



Now, I had originally just stuck these in the filing cabinet as is, but, like all good projects, I couldn’t just leave it alone, so I decided to add a “book end” to keep the books from sliding if the row wasn’t full. I had to take everything out to do this, so if you think you want something like this, probably do it now, before you get everything put together!

The piece is pretty simple.


It’s about 12″ wide and 9″ tall. The notches are the same width as the end pieces, 3 7/8″ from the middle to each side. The only reason this has the circles cut into it, is because I was using a banana box, they don’t really serve any purpose! The notches are about 6 1/2″ deep to the bottom of the circles, and as above, they are about 1/8″ thick. Like I said, simple.

Then attach the book end from underneath:


And you can now put the whole thing in your file cabinet:

P1060908_smallThe back of the cabinet is actually movable so if your long pieces are a little short you can tighten it right to them.

Now put your books in:


And then tighten the book end:


And there you have it!

I even added little labels to indicate which books were in which drawer:


To make this cabinet EVEN cooler, I have a very cool project in mind that I hope to share soon!

The Sandman Volume One: Preludes and Nocturnes

The Sandman TPB Volume One: Preludes and Nocturnes
By Neil Gaiman

A few years ago, I found TPBs (trade paperbacks) volume one and three of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman in a used book bin. I didn’t know anything about them, but figured for 50c each, it was worth a shot. I wasn’t really into comics at the time, so they sat on my shelf unread until fairly recently. After finishing up a few books that I had, I was out of reading material so I went through my bookshelf to find something interesting. That was when I spotted those Sandman books I had acquired a few years back. I pulled volume one off the shelf and started into it.

Let me start by saying that I’m not really into artsy (aka pretentious) type books. As far as comics go, I like them to be fairly straightforward with some action and good storytelling. I find that if I have to think too much about what I am reading, it breaks me out of the world of the story and I’m not really a big fan of that. Sandman stands right on that edge. Based on the reviews that I had read on it, I was pretty skeptical. It is overwhelmingly respected and well received by readers and critics, but there are lots of comments about it being groundbreaking and deep and stuff like that, which all probably sound like praise, but were kind of red flags for me. Had I not been out of stuff to read, preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman TPB One) would have probably stayed on the shelf. I’m glad I ran out of reading material and picked it up, though. The story is pretty far out there.

In Preludes and Nocturnes these people are trying to trap death, but instead capture his brother Morpheus, The Sandman, the Dream King. They keep him trapped in some sort of spiritual cage for decades until someone accidentally breaks the circle and frees him. He spends the rest of the book trying to regain his tools (bag of sand and similar items) and restore order to the dream world. This seems like a super bizarre story (and probably is) but it is told in a very accessible way, so it doesn’t seem nearly as outlandish when you are reading it as it just did when I explained it. You get sucked in, and that, in my opinion, is what good story telling is all about. You care about the characters, you want to see things work out for them. That means someone is doing a good job building these characters.

So, that’s where milk comes from!

As far as the art is concerned, it is as bizarre yet engrossing as the story itself. As you can probably imagine, a story about the Dream Lord in the Dreaming (the dream world) with his cast of sidekicks, including Cane and Able among many others, as well as some of his siblings: desire, death and so on, has lots of room for some great visual story telling. While the art has the feel of old super hero comics, the content of the art is really unusual.

If you want a comic that is a little out of the norm (ok, a lot) and, I guess, has importance to the evolution of the genre, I think Sandman is worth picking up. You probably won’t find it for 50c anywhere so it may be a little more of a risk for you than it was for me, but I think you will find it worth it.

The Sandman Volume One: Preludes and Nocturnes on

TMNT Issues 2-4: The Gems of My Collection

So, as promised, I am going to start writing about comic books. This is a post I am particularly excited about writing, because, unlike books, comics are both fun to read AND to collect, and I gained some very exciting pieces for my collection yesterday. My wife worked out a deal with my buddy Michael over at Mr. Maczap’s Comics (who I can’t say enough good things about) to get me three really awesome first printings of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. He gave us a great deal on the books and threw in a couple really cool bonus items. Anyway, after meeting up with Michael, I ran to Walmart and got some frames for the books. When I got home I framed them up and hung them. I’m really happy with the way they look on the wall, and super psyched to have them in my collection. So, without further ado, here are some photos I snapped. Enjoy!

Issue 2, First Printing (1984)

Issue 2, First Printing (1984)

Issue 3, First Printing (1985)

Issue 3, First Printing (1985)

Issue 4, First Printing (1985)

Issue 4, First Printing (1985)

Looking pretty slick, all lined up on the wall!

Looking pretty slick, all lined up on the wall!

Raphael One Shot, First Printing (1985)

Raphael One Shot, First Printing (1985)

Now I just need that Issue 1, First Printing, and the collection will be complete! If I could just remember where I left that spare $1500 laying around…