Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Baggage Check: Autopsy Press, EBay, Cardinals, DMZ

It’s been a while since I last blogged at you, but rest assured that lots of writing has been going on. First and most foremost, my new book is finally ready! It’s called A Sudden Rise in Life, and features a short story and five poems, all illustrated in full, eye-popping color by the incredibly talented Leontine Greenberg. The title story was originally published in Fortune’s Fools, an excellent little anthology of short stories based on fortune cookie fortunes. I also have a new website: Autopsy Press where you can order a copy of A Sudden Rise in Life (with Paypal) and some of my older books as well.

Other projects are also moving along. A new Love & Rockets column (#7) is finished and being edited as I write this, and I’ve read tons of stuff, both old and new, books and comics, which I will try to review in the not too distant future. Still, I have to admit, it’s kind of nice to be off the new comics treadmill for a while. The industry has grown so much in the last five years, it’s all I can do just to keep up with what Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly are publishing.

Considering how much stuff I have in my collection that I’ve never read, I’ve cut way back on my new comics purchases. I haven’t walked away from new comics completely, I’m just slowing way down. I’ve limited my visits to the comics shop to once a month, and am only really following titles which I love, like Walking Dead, Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, All Star Superman, Escapists, etc. There are also those titles which come out infrequently but I will always get, like Berlin, Kabuki, Optic Nerve, Palookaville, Strangehaven, Stray Bullets, Mome, etc. But for the most part, I have dropped most books, including virtually all superhero stuff, am trying not to get hooked on too many new mini-series, and am limiting myself to only one new graphic novel a month (though, addict that I am, I ended up buying both Chicken with Plums and Shenzhen: A Travelogue From China this month). Last month I ended up going with the 9/11 Report, which was very interesting, and well worth reading, even if I felt a little strange about the whole thing. I will try to gather my thoughts into a more cohesive reaction at some point, but this is definitely a book worth reading if you are curious how many different ways our bloated, complacent, mismanaged government dropped the ball.

As I mentioned last time, I’m also reading books again, which is something I had gotten away from for a while when I was really in the Crack Shots swing. Right now I'm about halfway through J.D. Salinger's other classic, Franny and Zooey, and I just finished reading White Rat, Whitey Herzog’s autobiography about his life in baseball. Whitey was the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals teams that won the 1982 World Series and lost both the ’85 and ’87 Series in seven games each. He’s a surprisingly good writer (helped by ghost writer and local columnist Kevin Horrigan), a no-bullshit, tell-it-like-it-is narrator, and his take on the behind the scenes of a baseball club is pretty interesting. You don’t have to be a Cardinals fan to enjoy it, but it probably doesn’t hurt.

Speaking of the Cardinals, I am ecstatic to see them back in the World Series. Not many people gave them a chance to beat the Padres or the Mets, much less the Tigers, but I think they can do it. Even if they lose, though, nothing will take away the pure joy of that NLCS Game 7 in Shea Stadium. As far as baseball games go, that was a true classic, a 10 out of 10, a game where every pitch carried with it the entire hopes and dreams of a season for both teams, and as the ninth inning approached with the game still tied, the pressure was almost unbearable. And then Yadi hit that homerun...

I was at a local bar in NYC with about 30-40 other displaced Cardinals fans and when that ball went over the fence, we erupted in a joyous, raucous group hug not unlike the ones you see teams do when they clinch the pennant. But, ten minutes later, when the Mets loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, we all sat there stunned, holding our breath with each pitch until the celebration began the second Adam Wainwright’s nasty curveball hit Molina’s glove, striking out the biggest Cardinal killer of them all, Carlos Beltran. Here are some great pictures from that night, and the drunken, champagne-soaked euphoria that ensued. For Cardinals fans, who Whitey himself describes as “the best fans in baseball” (and he should know, having coached for about 12 different teams), it was a crazy, unforgettable night.

But enough about baseball. This is supposed to be a comics blog, right?

Well, I’m still feeling pretty overwhelmed with all the comics I shipped back from St. Louis. I’ve finally gone through everything and unofficially shanked about 17 short boxes of comics, or roughly half my collection. Now I’m slowly going through and listing it all on EBay, a tedious, thankless, frustrating process to say the least. I’ve learned a lot, though and it’s interesting what sells on EBay and what doesn’t. For example, as a general rule, Rob Liefeld stuff does not sell. Why I even bothered to list it, I’m not sure, since I knew no one would want this crap, but I guess hope springs eternal. Anyway, it looks like I’m stuck with my NM copies Youngblood. Nick Fury vs. SHIELD, that atrocious six-issue prestige mini-series from a few years ago also didn’t sell. Of course, that’s not surprising since it sucked, but the covers were beautiful at least. Also, apparently nobody wants Mark Hamill’s horrific mini-series The Black Pearl and I didn’t even bother listing Secret Wars II.

But surprisingly, I’ve still managed to make some decent money off some stuff. Newer stuff is always easier to move. For example, my copies of DMZ #1-11 were pretty hot. Yes, I finally gave up on this series (and it’ll probably win an Eisner now that I’ve dropped it). There were parts of it I really liked, including its high concept and Wood's innovative and striking covers, but the core story just wasn’t working for me. The characters were too generic, as was the artwork, and I never felt like I was able to buy into the whole “militia war” idea, which seemed muddied, confusing and somewhat contrived. Living in NYC, I also felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities in the artwork. One scene in particular stands out that was supposed to be set in Union Square, but Burchielli’s generic art seemed like he’d never even seen a picture of the square.

Anyway, full runs, complete mini-series, and “key issues” also sell pretty well, which I’m sure is no surprise to anyone. I sold a lot with a whole bunch of key Thor issues, including Simonson’s classic Beta Ray Bill first appearance. (I never understood why that was such a classic, by the way. A duck-billed Thor? Just seems kind of silly to me, but it was very popular back in the day I guess). I also unloaded 66 random issues of good, ‘80s 2000 AD magazines. There’s some great stuff in there by Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Dave Gibbons, Peter Milligan and dozens of other well known British creators. Not their best work, given the genre and format, but still, some surprisingly fun and original stories. Somebody out there is going to have fun trying to track down the missing issues to fill out some of the story arcs.

Anyway, thanks for checking in and I hope to be back on some kind of semi-regular reviewing/blogging/rambling schedule in the not too distant future.

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