Friday, September 21, 2012

1983 Columbia Blue Angel

Dedicated to the Ladies. Another "twilight of the banana seat" great. This step-thru frame features the more aggressive looking straight down tube, an acknowledgment of the emerging BMX bicycle craze of that era, possibly even a slight nod towards Olivia Newton-John. 

I took a few leaps at the local track riding a banana seat bike, way back when,  though not the one pictured here. I seem to recall a health advantage of the wide handle bars being that they allowed one to be better able to jump clear of the contraption when crashing back to the earth after some magnificent acrobatic feat.

The after-market white wall tires really 'makes' this particular bike.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

1978 HG Toys Godzilla Battles The Tricephalon Monster Playset

A timeless classic. When I recieved this as a youngster, the battleship was missing, so they tossed in an extra Tricephalon Monster. I wasn't complaining! Little did I know that the ship features a simple projectile launching mechanism that fires off missles that are 1/4" long by 1/16" diameter (!) The overall vibe of this playset is pure, chintzy goodness. I picked it up fairly recently for a mere $80.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

1977 Murray Ram Rod I

It was the dawn of the BMX , so we used to rip on the kid with the 3/4 Banana Seat. Now we drop coin.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Do You Toy Show? Part Five

Another SCC  has come and gone, earning me some cool swag but not much loot. The show is a tradition among toy collectors around here that has sort of mutated into a full scale media celebration, whereby even casual geeks (aka "just about everyone nowadays") can feel at home surrounded by TONS of uselessness. That's a mixed blessing. As the event continues to grow, so does the need for a more intimate event like the Pittsburgh Toy Show of yore. As one who specifically collects vintage toys, I find the size and content of the current show to be distracting. As one who sets up a table and trades, I find the demographic skewering towards modern and brand new toys to be discouraging. Increasingly, when I visit SCC I come away with the feeling that Pittsburgh needs an all encompassing vintage toy show experience, complete with trains. There is a massive toy collecting community in the region, so such a thing is probably already in the works. Back here in the real world we just came through yet another Steel City Con. Here's how it went:

-I finally got to sell Bandai Godzilla/ Ultraman sofubi to a woman cosplaying as a sexy character. Poison Ivy was a tall, friendly geek, and buying them for her (no doubt) geeky son. That tiny bit of information right there just about qualifies her as the coolest woman I am going to interact with for some time. But wait, there's more!  Her friend was dressed as The Silk Specter. And there were attractive geek women at the table across the aisle from me. Hot geek chicks in costume is something I'm still getting used to. It's not what this show was about back in the day, and I like it just fine, but it will never be as awesome as the girl in a Rush t-shirt riding a bicycle. Back to the Godzilla toys for a bit, I have been hit on by mom's buying Godzilla toys so many times that, as an aging bachelor, I have begun to incorporate them into my rap.

-I sold a friend's collection Konomi Gary Anderson vehicles to a real fan. I mean at a certain point this guy lost his composure and basically handed me the entire contents of his wallet. It's rare that the guard is dropped and a buyer reveals all emotional attachment, and it's always a great thing to witness. The real joy from that type of transaction comes from finding the toys a good home, and after a person reaches ten years of age or so, the seller never really gets to see that. So it must've been a big deal to this guy and I'm happy I could help him and my friend help each other.

-I'm selling genuine antique toys now. A few days after the show I saw a wind-up tin car in pristine condition on the Antiques Road Show  being appraised at three grand. It was very similar the one I sold to an old-timer for a reasonable forty bucks. Naturally all the non-toy collecting/selling people I know are extending their condolences for me getting "took", when in reality I think ARS is whack when it comes to appraisals. The results are people who don't understand how condition is the biggest factor and not every 80 year old toy is worth a small fortune. It gets worse talking to neophytes about modern toys, which in most cases are still very attainable, yet in their minds not so. More and more people seem to be getting a prototype Boba Fett mixed up with the garden variety, and then applying the same faulty logic to the entire collection. As a guy who has been selling toys for twenty years, I can say for a fact that you will never get $100 for a complete, loose  Darth Vader figure. Not anywhere, but I still have to listen to assholes tell me how my own game is played, all the time.Urban legend and now crappy TV shows are the reason why.

-I ran into wo dudes, each named Matt or Mark (sorry guys, I'm bad with names) who were unloading some choice Macross and related, and who were also nice enough to float me a bunch of great videos for free! Then they got on a left wing New World Order conspiracy kick, which I also enjoy occasionally. More free videos. I feel like I picked up some cool stuff off of them years ago, but they weren't talking. I should have handed them all my money and pieced out the collection for the next ten years. Aside from bumping into friendly faces, these guys exemplify the need to thoroughly explore the show. They set up in the artists section, which is a considerably smaller investment than a regular dealers table, and one I avoid because I'm too afraid of getting roped into a conversation about some fictional character that I don't know or care about. This is always a fatal mistake; Macross swag, Godzilla's Gang, Bionic Bigfoot... all grails that were within reach if I had the sense to properly explore the surroundings.

-I got situtated next to and hung out with John from Strange Uncle all weekend. The guy is great and has always been extremely generous, whether pricing a vintage piece or one of the unique designs his operation continues to produce. Plus, he understands the fringe aspects of Asian cult cinema, and that makes a show neighbor so much more pleasant to be around. We traded back and forth all weekend, and half the stuff you see in my swag photo started out as his. It's also nice to know your neighbor isn't going to lift anything from your spread.

Lot's of good reasons to be at the show, for sure. It's not all touchy feely, however, there are aspects of this show that I cannot stand. Mostly things beyond the promoters control. Things like the venue itself, which is a warehouse converted into a convention center with the gobs of federal grant money awarded to Monroeville over the past decade. If you ever try to convert a warehouse into a convention center in your own neighborhood your biggest issues are parking and plumbing. At the Monroeville Convention Center, conventioneers cannot load anything into the show within an hour of the doors opening due to the massive amount of foot traffic streaming past all sides of the building. Little kids running through a stream of moving vehicles.  Inside, the sewage starts getting backed up by Saturday afternoon, in the manner of hundreds of unhealthy, inactive lifestyles. So it's not just catatonic nerd BO you have to deal with, depending on where you're situated with regards to the draft. If you're familiar with this crowd, you know that the facilities aren't ever good enough even when they offer showers.

One final thought is that maybe there was some pall cast by the wacko who shot up the Batman movie in CO. Maybe the pall was cast by the Batman movie itself. Maybe it's just that the summer show is always a bit off and nobody needs to be blowing cash on trinkets in an election year anyway. Maybe it's just me, needing to grow the hobby in some meaningful way that no one has, at least not around here. It's a strange time to be a geek, but some things "geek" will never change.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

1980 Huffy Space Invader

 Banana seat bikes are great. Put a kid on one of these and they love it. Get on one yourself and at least giggle for a few minutes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Amphitheater at Station Square UNCEREMONIOUSLY DUMPED

I'm just as guilty as anyone for not wishing the venerable asphalt parking lot cum festival tent a fond farewell. For all the decades of concert activity (and debauchery,)  you'd think people would want to do a little more reminiscing, and maybe even celebrate it's time and place in the grand scheme of Pittsburgh's pop cultural landscape. Here it is, months later, but not without heart.


The longstanding outdoor venue escapes recollection, despite its tenure and the notable talents it hosted, for two main reasons; 1) confusing naming rights, and 2) the low rent vibe. The latter actually appeals to locals, who favor the homespun DIY aesthetic, especially when merging with live music with alcohol. The former, however, is something no one in this town can stand. So while the necessary naming rights continued to bring minor improvements to the venue's structure itself, the market never quite wrapped its head around where it was they were enjoying all these great times. So, whether the show was booked at the Melody Amphitheater, the I.C. Light Amphitheater, Chevrolet  Amphitheater, or (ugh) Trib Total Media Amphitheater, concert goers inquiring as to the location of the event merely spoke in terms of it occurring at "Station Square," the re-purposed historic center of commerce it nestled up against. By the time the Tribune Review got involved, it was utterly confusing, sounding a little too much like The Post-Gazette Pavilion, and probably sending people on wild goose chases of an unfortunately grand scale. Throughout this essay I will continue to refer to the place as "The Amphitheater At Station Square" even though no one ever really called it that, because the place never really had a name for itself. It had a vague description for itself. There aren't too many businesses that can operate that way, and the fact that this one did, as long as it did, is a testament.

Once you figured out where you were going, and if you had never been there before (and maybe were a little too used to the full scale productions promoted by the national media landscape, trotted out to the major concert venues, exclusively) you could be excused for being somewhat disappointed in the venue itself. Essentially a 1/2 mile long stretch of blacktop with a temporary stage and scaffolding, the Amphitheater at Station Square had a strictly bare-bones utilitarian vibe. It was fine, thanks solely to it's location, with panoramic views of downtown Pittsburgh's skyline, Mt. Washington and it's inclines, and even the Ft. Pitt Bridge (which looks really cool against a sunset.) It sat against train tracks, and depending on how rooted in the blues the act you were watching was, a passing train could create a memorable scene. Then the addition of a massive canopy, functioning as an ad-hock roof to shelter equipment and people who don't belong outside, diminished nearly all of  the venues magical qualities. To make it even more unpleasant they eventually added rows of folding chairs where general admission used to be, basically killing whatever good vibe the place had left. These additions would otherwise seem to makes sense except that the place was still basically a shitty parking lot in dis-use, and each attempt to elevate it only drove the point further home. Then there were the bathroom trailers. The facilities at The Amphitheater at Station Square bathrooms notoriously sub-par, the kind of glorified port-o-john that had flushing toilets and not nearly enough capacity to keep a drunk metal fan from pissing in the sink. Other amenities would eventually include a variety of food and drink vendors (beer!) a side stage, and some picnic tables. As I said, in the glamorous world of entertainment, all very low-rent. Yet, good. There was something to the idea that it didn't matter if you broke something, or regurgitated a gallon of cheap beer right out in the open. It was as if the parking lot scene was NOT replaced by the inside venue scene, as happens with most venues. A certain fluidity or continuity was afforded in this way, and it showed in the crowd atmosphere at any given show. Every time you went there there was something to comment on, or bellyache about, but you always had a great time, always talked to some new people, always came away with fond memories.


1988- We headed down to the embryonic 500 seat general admission Station Square Festival Tent to see 80's metal guitar god Yngwie Malmsteen. It had rained earlier and the show was postponed due to water collecting on a stage full of electrical equipment. As the enthusiastic crowd continued to line up, I ran into one of the three girls I had kissed up to that point, as well as Greg from the old neighborhood and school, and finally some weirdo from the North Side. After more than an hour, Yngwie emerged from the entrance of the tent and waved to his adoring, cheering fans, then climbed aboard his bus and drove away. WTF?! The girls went back to Bloomfield, and us guys conspired to get some beer and convince them to join us, except we were all underage. All, except for the weirdo, who hopped in our car and took us on a winding ride through the slopes of downtown Pittsburgh. As he ran into his house, for reasons we couldn't know, Greg leaned over and advised us that he knew the area and that the guy was driving us in circles. Then the guy hopped back into the car and we headed to Oakland, to pick up a case at the Uni-Bev. While the guy was inside Greg started freaking out, so we decided it was wiser to ditch the strange fellow, and we sped off into the night, laughing hysterically over our misadventure. Great memory!

1996- We headed down to the I.C. Light Amphitheater to witness The Pirates Ball, one of the great underrated, under-documented hippy concerts of the era. The Band cancelled out, as Levon was on a downturn, but we all quickly got over it because the great Vince Welnick and The Missing Man Formation were there for a rare live appearance. We all got ripped and danced our asses off. People were laughing and singing, Steve Cooperstien won the Jerry Garcia look-a-like contest, and for a brief moment in time Pittsburgh did quite literally seem like the West Coast of the East Coast. Great memory!

2000- I escorted my girlfriend, a striking beauty with a serious case of Farm Girl Rage, to the annual Rib and Wing cook-off, and saw some classic rock act that I don't remember.  The small town pageant winner/ race queen was ever so susceptible to flattery and loved making her companion jealous by basking in the attention of total strangers, but this trip took it to another level. As we continued to imbibe and the nature of her helplessness grew more apparent, she was spotted by one of the more experienced "marketing reps" working the crowd, and so we were both invited aboard the Cutty Sark traveling promotional vehicle. That was one of the first places I ever spilled a drink merely by trying to put it to my lips, while the muscled Lothario in charge of the operation cuddled with the aforementioned slut and attempted to persuade my girl to join them on their merry way. Naturally, she was ready to make the leap to fame and fortune via the back of a tour bus, expecting me to wait for her return. For days after the guy called and tried to persuade her, and she kept seeking my approval when all I could say to her was to do what she had to do. A short time later when we broke up, her friends would use that as an intelligent rational for my being too "controlling," but the truth is, by that time, the bitch had entered into a respectable career and now even has a family. Great memory!

2008- By this point I had been to the venue dozens of times, with different crowds, witnessing all the permutations, all the great music I love to see live. I had seen Grinch end their hard won success by standing on stage advocating killing the pigs and then never materialize again anywhere, ever. I had entered the music trivia challenge and been stumped by the shitty 'DVE playlist I had forced from my consciousness decades earlier. I had stood outside the Green Day show passing out flyers for my own fledgling concert promotion attempts, and did not cheat on the Cutty Sark wannabe even though it was probably the right thing to do. This would be my last visit to the place, when we would finally get to witness the great Levon Helm live in concert (on the drums, with Laryngitis) opening for The Black Crows. This is when my aging hearing decided that earplugs were essential concert gear, and that a venue leaning up against the side of a cliff didn't need to be so loud. The Crows are typically great, and the crowd was fun, as usual. Luckily enough, I didn't drop ALL of the joints I had rolled when reaching into my pocket for the ticket at the admission booth, and what was initially a disappointment gradually morphed into the satisfaction of knowing I probably made some unsuspecting, scuzzy-looking burnout's entire week. There would be a few other acts to appear at this venue that I might've enjoyed seeing, but by now I've seen hundreds of concerts, and my evolving musical tastes (combined with the fact that I've been rocking out rather than advancing my career) were keeping me firmly situated at the $15 or under club level.


As happens, the Amphitheater could not survive the onslaught of the big corporations who like to pray on situations like the one we currently face, which is a low turn out for live performance in light of a bygone era of giant concert venues placed ridiculously far outside of city limits. What the big money can do is get the laws re-written, get the tax breaks to allow them to correct the situation that the little guy has been chipping away at for years. So the out of town hawks swooped in and built a sparkling new, mid-size facility in the vain of the Amphitheater at Station Square, on the opposite side of town where the big development push is occurring. They locked in all the struggling mid-size touring acts and strangled the like-sized local promoters. It even has a shitty naming rights name, right from the start, but it has already made more of an impact in three years than the Amphitheater could in as many decades. Stage AE is definitely the venue for it's time, but so was the Amphitheater at Station Square. The differences are on the surface (newness, high levels of functionality and versatility) and underneath (corporate infiltration of what was once sub-culture) with AE taking all the honors. It's an actual building facing a wave of entertainment options and audiences not accustomed to festival crowds and atmosphere, therefore it feels more like watching something through a monitor in your living room. That doesn't necessarily have to translate to less of a good time, but it makes me wonder how far can it go? Will the new venue operate for decades and what will it look and feel like by that time? Will audiences for live music still exist? What happens when the music biz completely tanks and the Ohio promoters pull out? We'll have to wait and see. Stage AE is a classy upgrade, for sure, although it probably indicates more about the currently sad state of Rock 'N' Roll than any mismanagement on the part of the Amphitheater. With little choice, Pittsburghers will now be going to the North Side to Rock out, shelling out for absurd ticket surcharge fees, paying more for parking, and paying craft beer prices for the terrible selection of Canadian beers. Probably getting arrested for public drunkeness at a higher rate, too.  In the end it's just as well, and I'll be among them soon enough, admiring all the glitz and conducting myself like a guest at somebodies house, all while being thankful that there is at least SOME place still around to enjoy the time honored tradition of seeing a favorite musical act perform. In fact, I've already starting creating fond memories of the new place, yet it will never be mine.

Maybe fifteen years from now, when Stage AE is finally converted to cheap office space, some thirty something dude will wax philosophic and try to convince readers that the pop-cultural world is changing maybe not for the better. That's the next generation's duty, and it will be framed within the context of fuzzy memories, generated by a spirit of carelessness and discovery. That's  the same spirit by which I fondly recall the Amphitheater at Station Square (or whatever you call it) and with luck I will continue to pull from that as I grow into an old man. It was a great, trashy run, and it lives on in people's hearts whether they realize it or not.

Monday, April 30, 2012


I want to thank Jim @ Phantom for tipping me off to the fact that there was something of a kegger going on at this show. Not only was it a great record show, there was, in fact, complimentary Iron City beer (among other Pittsburgh Brewing selections.) It's amazing how much a cold beer can effect ones vinyl LP consumption.

At this show I was able to snag two grails, Dio "Intermission" and Brian May's Star Fleet Project, so you can imaging how pumped I was at that point. After a beer and two favorite movie soundtracks ("Raiders" and "The Black Hole") I am having the best time at a con that I've had in a while. The $3 cover was a deal.

When I was fourteen years old I ate this garbage up

 The Film Makers has a great vibe in general, but it surprised me by being a such a suitable venue. I've always enjoyed the small con in the unorthodox space, where the relaxed attitude of the knowledgeable crowd is the only thing keeping what is otherwise a major fire hazard from erupting into the nightly news headlines. At PGH Vinyl CON everywhere you turned there was a box of records. In every room and outlining the hallways, it was records and audiophiles. I'm talking congestive foot traffic situations, almost surreal, like the fan conventions that sometimes occur in my dreams.

It's great to know Brian May knew exactly what was going on inside my head back in 1983.

Friday, April 27, 2012

April 28th in The 'Burgh

There is so much to do in Pgh this weekend, it's almost crazy.

That there is enough to bring to mind the halcyon days of the 90's (as well as my rapidly diminishing youth,) and all the FLUX events and pub crawls, and the student radio Music Director swag I sold to used record shops to pay my way.

There are also these two gallery exhibitions by people I know from the bicycle and toy circles.

Phantom of the Attic, Oakland is having a huge sale on old comics. They're blowing out their warehouse inventory. If you've never been, it's a first rate store worth the extra time it takes to find a parking spot.

I would also be up for some Frolf, or park life in general. Always a good way to mix things up!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Do You Toy Show? Part Four

Zen HQ is once again gearing up for the Steel City Con, which is on it's fiftieth show or something. It's a real pleasure to set up and hang out with my fellow collectors, but not much fun to set up and tear down. That is why I never buy a table, at the show, on Sunday, at a discount. I can never sit there when Dominic makes the announcement and feel anything but loathing for the idea of going through this whole routine for another weekend. But here it comes again...

Unlike most toy nerds, my operation occurs mostly in seclusion. Everything I hoard is in storage. I do not have a space dedicated to displaying my collection, not even a shelf. If I did, perhaps I would have a small posse to help out when at the last minute I feel like I need to set up a table somewhere. For the most part it's just me, worrying about some big ticket item walking off while I'm making a trip to the vehicle, though I never seem to have trouble finding help during show hours.

Being that this is a big Star Wars gathering, I might break off one or two as yet to be determined vintage pieces, as well as more of my vintage domestic toy collection in general. When I store these toys, I kind of sneak them away where ever there is room. When my collection is placed all together, it brings to mind all the other uses I could make of the space it's taking up. Then it occurs to me I could be in total denial about my collection, because a large toy collection is really just one more thing to manage, so I kind of put it out of my mind until the niece and nephew need something to do, or there is a blizzard and I haven't admired my M1 Godzilla bust lately, or occasionally when friends are over and good and settled in already. I keep bringing the stuff in, but I don't feel like I have time to be organized, then I realize I have too much stuff. It's a cycle. I think back to the last show and I can honestly say that I knew I would be doing this next one, but still couldn't pull the trigger because I'm not joking about the part that it can be a drag.

My dealer (never liked the term) info indicates they need my tax ID #. My accountant has yet to get back to me, but it's that time of year/ keeping my fingers crossed. Plus, it's supposed to snow, which I love, and this new venue doesn't have windows. NEW VENUE. Yes, I miss the Expo-Mart, but what the local toy community needs is something a little more off-kilter and less dependent on celebrity guests and online retailers, something that celebrates the culture that has grown from over thirty years of regular-ass comic book and sci-fi conventions. Something new.

Until then, we'll settle for old and reliable, as long as it helps me clear out some clutter.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

George Lucas Strikes Back

This is great interview with George Lucas. It asks questions I've wanted to know for years, and reveals things that I never would have imagined.

For us thirty and forty somethings, Lucas was the childhood game changer. Although he didn't really help any us get laid (except for that brief period in the early 90's when SW was the epitome of self-referential cool,) he certainly provided the template by which we would determine what attitudes and behaviors were acceptable of any right-minded young man. He changed the way we absorbed visual information while at the same time providing us with characters and themes of multigenerational appeal. George Lucas belongs and will be on any respectable list of the great 20th Century innovators.

Now he's coming forward with his thoughts and feelings, and announcing his semi-retirement. See, he's not so much retiring as intentionally fading into obscurity. Art films, he says.

Go for it, I says.

After "Red Tails" Lucas intends to make the types of obscure films that landed him so much attention in the first place, and it's about time. People forget what an innovative cat this guy is, like it's his fault cinematic storytelling hasn't changed much since 1977. It's unfortunate that he feels like he has to make a big announcement, instead of just doing like Spielberg and making whatever kinds of films he wants, whenever he wants, but then George was always a different animal. It could be that is exactly his plan; a couple of sleepers, then a Spielberg approved sequel to Close Encounters of The Third Kind.

I hope that's what happens, or something along those lines. I hope the guy has nothing but fun making his movies from now on, whatever type of movies they need be. I look forward to another tribute, another dystopia, maybe even a comedy or two. And the weirdness... oh, the awesome George Lucas weirdness!

George Lucas is a national treasure. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My 2012 Comic Book Pull List

With the new year comes the realization that I shelled out for entirely too many mediocre floppies during the biggest event in comics publishing history, so it's time to trim the pull list!

Naturally, I'll start with DC, the main siphon of cash over the past four months. I'll admit, I am for the most part enjoying the relaunch, although I'd really appreciate it if they stop depicting all of the supporting female characters awkwardly copulating with second and third string anti-heros. Here's what I'm sticking with, in no particular order:

Demon Knights- The biggest surprise, I never liked the character before, and still kind of don't, but the supporting casting and setting are brilliant.

Resurrection Man- Another surprise, again with the cool premise and supporting cast.

Frankenstein and The Agents of Shade
- A retro-trippy delight. So far so good.

Bat-Man- I wish I could hold off on it for a few years until collectors start dumping, but it's just too much fun. The most "Bat-Man" of the current Bat-books.

Action Comics- Morrison back on Supes is a no-brainer, even though an issue costs four bucks (!) When Morrison goes, so do I.

Swamp Thing- Finally! Something happened! I was afraid I was going to have to drop this book. Nobody wants to NOT like The Swamp Thing, right?

Red Hood- I know what you're thinking, but Roccofort is great, even if the story isn't. It will probably get dropped as soon as he leaves.

Wonder Woman- Not bad. The new origin story might make a warlike Diana more acceptable. One thing I do not like, however, is the return of the hot pants. The revised costume from last year took a while to grow on me, but it did. It was great. WW's traditional costume now seems like a cop-out.

Aqua Man- A fun initial story arc. It looks like Geoff Johns really gets the characters and mythology.

and finally,

Justice League- A really fun team book created by industry superstars. Hopefully we'll get more flashbacks in the future.

Mr. terrific would've made the list if they hadn't tried to totally re-invent the character. Karen Starr is the only reason any one picks it up. This is about half the titles I was collecting during the intial launch. Of all the publishers I collect, DC is the one really on the chopping block.

Most people I know who read comics read DC, whereas most people I know who like comics, but don't actually read them, like Marvel. After DC's impressive re-tooling, with it's emphasis on exposition, it's getting tougher to make it through Marvel's offerings. They edit their stories to accommodate the eventual graphic novel, so why bother with their monthlies? Plus, they continue to deluge us with messy crossover story lines that at this stage in the game are only succeeding at turning me off. Here's what Marvel I can stick with:

Amazing Spider-Man- Peter Parker is another icon whom I feel is getting waaay too much tail these days, something which will no doubt occur again now that Carly Cooper has dumped him. At least Marvel is still willing to keep the sex pg-13. I like the decent mix of new and old characters, a universe within a universe. This book has a life of it's own, and is one of the few that I have subscribed to for years.

Venom- I can hardly believe they were able to re-invent the character so well, and the story hasn't slowed down one bit. This is the best new Marvel comic in years.

I'm giving up on Avengers Academy, since I don't follow any other avengers books and I have no idea what is going on from issue to issue. To be honest, I only picked it up because Tigra is a personal favorite, however I grew to enjoy the young cast. That said, it doesn't make any sense that Tigra is teaching children, since she is a femme fatale who wears almost no clothing. This nonsense might work for me if Marvel could write an energetic, concise story. This problem plagues all of their team books. Overall, Mighty Marvel is looking kind of clunky these days.

There are two Dark Horse publications that I can't give up, ever:

Hell Boy- discussing this books greatness is redundant.

GANTZ- The only manga on my list, this provocative sci-fi actioner is over forty volumes and still publishing in Japan (we're on volume 20 in the states.) I can't imagine this story ever getting boring.

As for the rest of the comic book publishers, I will just mention the few titles that I still regularly enjoy. They are:

Red Sonja- Showing improvement

Queen Sonja- Yes, I am that big of a fan.

Dejah Thoris
- I actually like this better than the series it's based on.

I was disappointed in Vampirella, but at least there's Guns and Dinos to look forward to. Indies aren't doing much for me these days.

That's a healthy list, by any non-comics reading persons standards, and that's where I'm going with this hobby for now. Obviously, I'm not purchasing a copy of GANTZ out in public, and there will always be one or two faves worth subscribing to, but buying floppies in the era of graphic novels is becoming a luxury. So, with the intention of pairing back the frivolous purchases even further, the biggest change to my comics buying habits will be a new policy of visiting the shop only once per month. As I continue to accept the fate of the floppies, I will go from needing a weekly fix to enjoying a monthly feast of moronic entertainment.

Congratz to DC for becoming the new biggest publisher overnight.