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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What A Green Lantern Ring Should Look Like

Being a comic geek, there are certain "props" I really like. A while back, I bought a Green Lantern ring off of Ebay. It was stainless steel, with an obligatory green dot in the middle. I mean, there had to be SOME green in there, right? Initially, however, I was captured by the "flash", cheap price and the fact that I could get one in my size.

I placed it on the shelf in my office and didn't give it much more thought; just kind of glanced appreciatively at it each day as I came in to work. 

After a while, though, something about it just began to bother me. It occured to me that I had NEVER seen a Green Lantern ring in any comic that contained even a trace of silver. Different styles and configurations, sure. But, they always had one thing in common: (Say it with me, now...) They were GREEN.

So, why DO they market unpainted stainless steel rings, with weak-looking circular green stickers in the middle, and call them "Green Lantern rings"? Not that it really matters. One $1.50 can of green spray-paint, and voila! 

Now THIS is how a Green Lantern ring is supposed to look!

Beam me up, Guardians!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Comics, With a Side of Blissful Ignorance

This is an article that I wrote several years ago, but which never made it to this blog. It's still relevant, as I still live in the same place, and I still get annoyed by unavoidable spoilers. What's unfortunate is, the two sources of comics journalism I referenced, Wizard Magazine and Comics Buyer's Guide, have ceased publication. Sign of the times, I guess.

To the article.

I live in the tip of the Oklahoma Panhandle - otherwise known as “the middle of nowhere.”  Those who live here know we’re living in no-man’s land, and we’re ok with it.  After all, we have some of the clearest night skies in the nation for star-gazing, as well as great neighbors, the people out here being friendly and outgoing.  And, we’re 30 minutes or less from Kansas, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico, so lots of beautiful scenery is close by.

Wondering what my point is, yet?  I do have one.  It’s that I’m cut off.  Cut off from comics shops and comics fans.  Cut off from the goings-on of the medium.  Sure, there’s the internet, but I work for a living and I have a family.  I don’t have time to be online day in and day out.  Besides, who would want to?

See, I remember the day when every comic I picked up contained the promise of a great surprise.  Just on the next page was the possibility of a cliffhanger involving my favorite character, which would cause me to gasp in disbelief, both at the hero’s precarious situation, as well as the unenviable prospect of having to wait a painful 30
days for the next exciting installment.  Upon completion, I might roll up that wonderfully-entertaining-yet-excruciatingly-frustrating mag and whack my chest of drawers with it.  Or, maybe swat a few Mego superhero action figures.  The thought of doing so with a precious collectible may be sending some of you through the roof.  It was nothing to my friends and I, back in the day.  After all, comics storage at that time meant rolling them up and shoving them in your back pocket, or tossing them in your closet amongst toys, games and dirty clothes that never made it to the laundry room.  I seem to have a vague recollection of one of my friends folding comics three of four times so they could fit in his FRONT jeans pocket.  And, yes, some of those were Silver Age books.  Anyone need oxygen, yet?

So, again, my point: There was a day when there was no “comics journalism.” No media constantly and incessantly reporting on the things that had yet to happen.  These teasers and party poopers, continually
extracting information on the future events and predicaments of our favorite characters from only-too-willing creators were not yet spoiling the fun for readers.  And yet, there are those who anxiously await the newest edition of Wizard, The Comic Buyers Guide and the latest updates to various comics web sites the way we “old timers” used to anticipate the newest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Batman or what-have-you.

Don’t get me wrong - I enjoy some aspects of those publications.  Various interviews, historical pieces and even editorials are often a joy to read.  But, I have no desire to know what’s going to happen to any character in any particular storyline....until I read it, myself.  I don’t want hints, clues, spoilers or previews.  Not from the internet, a magazine or even comics shop chatter.  Believe it or not, I like it that way.  I wonder if I’m alone in that...?

So, in a way I guess I’m living my childhood all over again.  Comics are fresh, and the promise of a cool surprise contained within each story is back.  I don’t miss the weekly (or more) trip to the Comic Empire of Tulsa that I enjoyed for so many years living near that city, though I do miss the owner, and other friends.  And, when I do make the rare trip back, or the much shorter trip to Big Apple Comics in Amarillo, I just try to keep my ears closed to any current events rap session.  No comics gossip for me, thanks.  I’ll have my sequential entertainment with a side of blissful ignorance.

Mark Allen

Friday, February 07, 2014

Right Out of The Comics - A Finger Inferno

Old-school Iron Man fans know that his long-time foe, the Mandarin, possessed a ring with fiery qualities. To whit:

And that the ring was quite destructive and deadly, as seen here...

Well, here's a guy who whipped up something similar in his handy-dandy workshop.

I just hope he never tries to fire it up while he's wearing it. Cool concept and imagery, however.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Ashley Wood Iron Man Figures

I like the idea of figures made in the style of the artist, and these are definitely intriguing...., BUT, I think there should have been a little more difference between figures than the paint job. Still, they're worth a look, and maybe even a bit of my hard-earned cash. Pop on over to Comic Book Resources for a gander.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Black Coat: A Call to Arms, published by Ape Entertainment, 104 pages, $12.95

This is a review from several years ago, which was syndicated under the Suspended Animation column, but never made to FCC. Thought it was time to give it new life, as, thankfully, this book is still going. Enjoy!

Who is The Black Coat? He’s a spy who leads The Knights of Liberty, opposing the tyranny of the British in Colonial New York City. Right off the bat, you have to give credit to Ben Lichius, Adam Cogan and Francesco Francavilla, the creators of The Black Coat: A Call to Arms - there aren’t many (any?) modern comics works set in the Pre-Revolutionary War period. This may be a first. Regardless of whether or not they are trailblazers, however, one thing is certain; The Black Coat is worth your time.

 Writers Lichius and Cogan spin a web of intrigue, adventure and downright macabre “creepiness” as they lay out the Knights’ struggle against an organization called “The League.” The presence of a shadowy mastermind concealed in bandages adds an element of mystery, while a Mr. Hyde-like serial killer called “The Butcher” supplies the appropriate “chill” factor. I’ll not reveal the secret that makes that character all the more indomitable, but it’s a fun detail that cranks up the story’s sense of urgency. 

 The art work on the story is handled by Francavilla, who has a wonderful eye for detail, as well as the use of blacks and textures. His evocative style sets the tone for the story very well, and is integral to maintaining the horror factor. I’ve said it before and surely will again, it’s a very small number of comics artists who can perform well in the black and white medium. Say hello to Francesco Francavilla, one of those who live there.

All in all, The Black Coat delivers the goods, and is one of those hard-to-find worthwhile alternatives to the glut of superhero books out there. It is recommended for older readers, due to some graphic imagery. But, even at that, the creators are good at weeding out the “gore” factor. It’s disturbing without being disgusting. Find it at comics shops, online retailers and auctions and at

Mark Allen