ExtraComicular Activities #4: We Return to The Clifton Comic Book Expo!

2016 is history and I haven’t posted a damn thing in 2017 yet, but history is gonna change…

Recently, Matt from Dinosaur Dracula expressed to me that he was really charged up to dig through some long boxes. Coincidentally, there was a comic show coming up by me and I’m always up for comics. There’s nothing better than an old school comic book show. Picture a big room filled with geeks awkwardly attempting to navigate around other people trying to scan through thousands of old comics crammed too damn tight into long cardboard boxes. I’m talking about a true comic show run by local dealers where you can actually get some steals. This is the type of show that isn’t bogged down in ridiculous hidden advertisements from media conglomerates and not speckled with tables hawking products or podcasts that have nothing even remotely to do with comics.

Since NJ is my thing, let me clue you in on the city where this comic show went down. It’s the city where Rupert Pupkin hails from, the birthplace of Vera Farmiga and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, it served as the backdrop for a ton of scenes in The Sopranos, and it’s also home to a legendary place called The Gates of Hell. If you’re from the area, you know exactly what I’m talking about, but maybe you didn’t realize that they also have a pure, longstanding comic show that has been unfazed by trends. This is the Clifton, NJ comic show, the same show that I wrote about a couple of years back. Matt was super excited for that one as well. He’s onto something because stocking up on reading material during a cold ass winter ain’t a bad idea at all! He’s also detailing his windfall of comics over at Dino Drac so check that shit out when you’re done here! I can easily say that the plastic grocery bag I hauled home this time is 1000% better than that last time. Wanna take a look at some? Here’s 10, solely based off how eye catching their covers are.

1. Dracula Versus Zorro #2 (of 2)

Topps Comics, November 1993

During the comic book boom of the early ’90s, every company wanted IN on the comic book game. Though they were almost never in the same conversation as DC and Marvel, Topps had some decent comic book offerings. Starting in 1992, their lineup of well known licenses can only be described as wildly eclectic. During their 6-year stint, Topps ran comics from mega movie hits like Jurassic Park, TV shows like The X-Files and Xena: Warrior Princess,  horror icons like Dracula, Frankentstein, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface, and even the indescribably bizarre Barbi Twins Adventures. Shuffled in between was a classic hero who’s said to have inspired Batman. Zorro was created in 1919 and he’s still popping up in the comic pages, most recently with Dynamite Comics. Much like the Lone Ranger, I was introduced to Zorro as a young kid by my Dad (of course!) Reinforcing my interest in these characters were toy lines and cartoons for both LR and Zorro in the early ’80s.

I had forgotten that Zorro once faced Drac, but I’ll be damned if this cover doesn’t have me totally intrigued right now. The backdrop of a stained glass window bathes this cover in gorgeous hues of pink and purple. In the corner to my right, wearing all black, the man who leaves his mark in the form of a slashed Z, ZORRO, meets his match against the blood sucking DRACULA himself…and the Z-man even takes second billing! Since this is the second issue of a two-parter, we pick up the adventure right when the getting’s GOOD! It’s like an old fashioned swashbuckling movie serial where everyone’s fate (including the readers) is in Zorro hands! Giant rats are about to eat Zorro alive, but he’s fighting ’til the death. All veiny and gnashing his fangs, the ghoulish Drac is about to pounce as the enraptured Carmelita looks on in wicked delight. This is an old fashioned heroic horror adventure and now I have to hunt down the first issue.

2. G.I. JOE #43

Marvel Comics, January 1986

This issue was another one I picked out solely based off its badass cover. The grim reaper blasting a machine gun?!! Of course, auto-included. Wish there was a G.I. Joe figure of that guy. The story is thin and there’s nothing worth noting about this issue except for a two page ad where Spider Man plays detective and goes on a search to find Cap’n Crunch.

3. Betty and Veronica #104

Archie Comics, October 1996

With the upcoming premiere of Riverdale, everyone’s going to try to claim their lifelong alliegience to Archie Comics, but let’s be honest, before they revamped the characters with a horror/supernatural twist, the Archie gang wasn’t necessarily in the spotlight. I actually read the books quite often many years before the revamp because I always found them to be stupid fun, but mostly due to my affinity for the art by Dan DeCarlo and Dan Parent. Through the years, I’ve posted a few cool Archie items I picked up here and there, and I’m genuinely excited for the new era of these characters. Ironically, when I was a kid I thought the Archie comics were pretty dopey, so I think I’m aging backwards. Regardless, Betty and Veronica have consistently been one of the more entertaining aspects of Archie Comics, and the shenanigans depicted on this cover are a prime example. Betty faking the need for CPR so Archie comes and makes out with her, aw man, that’s the sales pitch right there. This book is filled with cheesy jokes and a few ridiculous storylines, but what do you expect? What will happen when Betty trips over Veronica’s in-line skates? Will Betty sue Veronica for real or is this just a ludicrous misunderstanding? You must read it to find out!

4. Darkhold: Pages of the Book of Sins #7

Marvel Comics, April 1993

I’ve got to be completely honest here, I’ve never heard of or read this comic series before, but look into those mesmerizing eyes! What the hell could she be so freaked out about? Oh, right, the SLIME! Coincidentally, DEATH BY SLIME is how I want to go out. Frankly, I don’t even care what’s inside this book because this cover needs to be framed. From what I gather, and I’m probably only a quarter accurate, is that the Darkhold book is sort of like the Necronomicon of the Marvel Universe. And go easy on me if that’s way off base. This comic features Scarlet Witch, Dr. Strange, a giant monster, demonic war planes, and…Ectoplasm Raining From The Freaking Sky. Ectoplasm Raining From The Freaking Sky. Sold. I’ll take it!

5. ALF #24

Marvel Comics, December 1989

Alf’s girlfriend Rhonda always amused me with her ginormous super wacky pink hair. Naturally, this one was a must buy. The cover to this issue features wordplay involving the fact that Rhonda’s Back with an obnoxious arrow pointing to Rhonda’s “back,” but we really know what they were going for. Marvel worshipped that Melmacian ass. How can you go wrong with a comic that proudly offers Alf making uncomfortably perverse jokes on the cover of a comic geared toward 7 year olds? In the oh so slight chance that none of that appeals to you, this issue includes a random Rocky reference. Alf’s working out with a boom box blasting “Gonna Fly Now” while rocking a Philadelphia shirt and doing Sly Stallone impressions. A++.

6. The Real Ghostbusters #3

NOW Comics, January 1992 

Out of all the comics I used to collect when I was a kid, NOW Comics were in a class by themselves. At the time, even mentioning NOW made my friends confused because it wasn’t Marvel or DC. In retrospect, NOW didn’t get enough credit. Unlike other independent comic companies, the majority of their books were printed in full color on high quality paper while even the big companies were still using cheap news type paper. I was hooked on all their big titles including Fright Night, Terminator, Married with Children, Twilight Zone and all of the Green Hornet iterations. What was cool about their Real Ghostbusters series was that it was perfectly in line with the cartoon and enriched the RGB lore with further adventures. You’d even see some ghosts that you didn’t see in the show. Many of the issues offered some outstanding art (especially some of the later run) and this line is worth a day of nostalgic marathon reading.

This cover is worth it just for Egon and Ray’s getup. If you dig the cover, you get a free pinup poster of it inside! As a kid, the idea of that was better than the actual poster itself. It would cause me so much heartache to know that I had to try to dismantle the staples from the comic in such a delicate way as not to ruin the comic while trying to remove the poster. Didn’t they ever hear of perforation? Currently, I have a class action suit against all comic companies in the ’80s for taking years off my life.

Also within these pages, you’ll see the winners of the draw Slimer contest, you’ll witness Ray vs. the Loch Ness Monster, and to sweeten the deal even more, you get to see what the actual Tobin looks like, yes, that guy of Tobin’s Spirit Guide fame! Oh, and there’s one more bizarre feature that I have been holding out on. In the ’80s, when adults needed tips on parenting, they usually picked up the latest issue of The Real Ghostbusters comic where Egon had his own section, “Egon Spengler’s Parent’s Guide For Health and Safety.” No, I’m not lying, and he even signed it at the end! Step off Dr. Phil.

7. G.I. Joe Action Force #23

Marvel Comics, August 1987

Picking up these magazine sized Joe issues at the US-1 Flea Market back when I was a kid was one of my favorite things. I was hesitant to include Action Force because I know it’s considered more of a magazine rather than an actual comic book, and I already brought up a Joe comic in this post, but whatever – this cover is too incredible not to show off! Simple, yet effective. This Cobra soldier really has a chip on his shoulder. It’s either that, or he’s been inhaling whatever’s in that toxic canister. If it’s none of the above, the sweats and bloodshot eyes could mean he’s coming down from some crazy drugs, or maybe he’s just MAD! Ultimately, it all ties back to my fixation for toxic stuff since I’m from New Jersey and live with a talking pile of sludge.

8. Toxic Crusaders #1

Marvel Comics, May 1992

Thumbing through thousands of comics you’re bound find some treasures. For me, that means finding some classic issues that I forgot had and buying them again. In this case, I probably have at least 2 or 3 copies of Toxic Crusaders #1, but it’s so good that it’s worth owning more copies just so I can make one into a Japanese war fan. The premiere issue spins the classic tale of how Toxie became New Jersey’s favorite superhero and met such cohorts as Headbanger and Major Disaster and foes like Dr. Killemoff. For a New Jersey freak like me, it’s a historical document as far as I’m concerned, and all for 50¢!

9. VAMPIRELLA #106

Warren Magazine, July 1982

You know that old saying, “I’ve never seen a Vampirella cover that I didn’t like?” Well, I resemble that remark. If I had the resources I’d buy every damn Vampirella comic that I came in contact with just so I can frame all the covers. That was the main thing that hooked me as a kid. I’d drool over the gorgeous art on the covers, then I’d thumb through the pages and notice they were black and white. FYI, my turn offs include: Black and White comic pages. See, I was able to watch black and white movies as a kid, especially horror and comedies, but when it came to reading a black and white comic book, I was flabbergasted. In my young mind, I thought “how could a B&W comic book have the audacity to sit on a shelf amongst fellow comic books that were overflowing with vivid, colorful artwork?” No matter how exciting and vibrant the covers are, the inside totally lets me down. It was false advertising if you ask me. Take this cover as evidence. It’s so unbelievably awesome that it sends your mind into a spiral of thoughts. It makes me think if the cover is this cool looking, I can’t even fathom what’s inside, but not so much. Vampirella’s dead husband is in it trying to seduce her, that’s for sure, in all his black and white glory. (womp womp)

10. DC Who’s Who Vol. XXI

DC Comics, November 1986

With the hundreds of comics that I have from when I was a kid, I don’t think I have more than one or two issues of DC Who’s Who. As a kid in the comic shop, you had to weigh your options. As it was, I used to be lucky enough to get a stack of comics on a weekly basis, but even my parents knew which ones were worth the purchase. To keep up on the main ongoing storylines, you need the base titles, not the comics that were character encyclopedias masquerading as an actual comic.

In the back of my mind I always wanted to have every single issue of Who’s Who and keep them in that badass binder. That’s right, at one point, Who’s Who came with three hole punches on the left side of the book so you can put them in a DC Who’s Who binder. It was a masterfully concocted gimmick, but still a stretch for me to justify. Doing a Google image search for DC Who’s Who will convince almost any DC fan in about 0.1 seconds that they need every single issue of Who’s Who that ever existed. That’s what made me pick up issue XXI. I’m a DC guy and reading obscure character bios makes everything right in this crazy world.

Now onto why I was hooked by that cover! Judging by this illustration of Solomon Grundy, I started thinking about how he could’ve had a career in the WWE back in 1993 against Yokozuna. Holy shit, I’ve never seen Grundy drawn to the point where he’s busting out of his shirt from eating over 4,000 White Castles. In addition to the character bios, there’s a map of Skartaris which details the Warlord’s stomping grounds. It was known to be a land where Dinosaurs somehow found their way to even though they were extinct on Earth.

Talk about stocking up on good reading material for the cold winter season! Trust me, there’s no better way to spend a snowy Saturday than to study the personal data and histories of Space Cabbie, Spawn of Frankenstein, Spellbinder, and The Spook, than in the yellowed pages of a limp, 50¢ comic.

Get yourself out to a local comic show and seek out the cheap bins! You never know what you will find. Until next time friends – thanks for reading!

Food Truckin’, Comic Shoppin’, and Antiquin’

After I heard about Just Jersey Fest, a gathering of food trucks coming to Randolph, NJ a couple of weeks back, I figured it might be a fun Sexy Armpit excursion. Food trucks have been enjoying a wave of popularity, especially in cities. I’ve really had no experience with food trucks, unless you want to count the ice cream man who I bought WWF Ice Cream bars from nearly 5 days a week for the span of 4 years in my early teens. Other than that, I’ve never eaten food that I purchased from a truck. I never really felt like I was missing out on anything either, but to have the option of sampling from ALL of them in one place seemed appealing to me since I don’t live in an area with many food truck appearances.

I wasn’t going into this one alone. I coerced friend, author, and co-star of the Sexy Armpit Show, Michael Gary Wirth aka @IdiotAtPlay, and his wife into going. We hopped in the car and headed up Route 287 on a super hot and sunny Saturday.

What started as your typical trip to eat at food trucks snowballed into an extensive trek up and down the Garden State searching for comic stores and ending with a brilliant finale: an unexpected drop-in to the most enormous and well stocked antique store of all time.

First, simply put, Just Jersey Fest was a big wide open lot that had a crazy amount of locally based food trucks parked around the perimeter. No false advertising here: there was a bunch food trucks, a DJ playing an odd array of oldies mixed with tunes you might here at The Colorado Cafe, and tons of people milling around, indecisive about what they should eat. What a perplexing situation. What altered my decision was how long the lines were at each truck. As a personal rule, I prefer not to stand in hideously long lines in the blazing hot sun. I melt very easily.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but judging by the unique and often one of a kind cuisine that many food trucks are offering nowadays, my bar was set pretty high. Judging by some of these Food Network shows, it’s apparent that every food truck has to have their own special gimmick or they won’t last. Since I adore gimmicks, the idea of food trucks appealed to me, and I was pretty geared up to think that we were in for some real treats. Sometimes, my positivity is my weakness, and my friends faith in me is theirs. Sounded clunky, but those shrewd enough might extrapolate the Emperor Palpatine reference buried in there. Regardless, I’ve been bandying around the word extrapolate like I’m 6 years old and I just started working “shit” into my diatribes about how Drake’s Devil Dogs would get stuck to my teeth and the roof of my mouth.

My first mission was to tour around the lot to make sure I knew each and every option I had to choose from. After my stroll, I was convinced there was nothing enticing me. I really wanted to be lured onto a line by a delicious odor or seduced by a superbly crafted stock photo of a shellacked empanada. As always, Mike and his wife were enthusiastic about the whole ordeal and they found a couple of trucks that had selections they wanted to try.

Mike went with a Cajun truck, one that I had mentioned sounded halfway decent moments earlier, but for some reason I opted for the Colombian food truck. I regretted not going with my first instinct. Always go with your first instinct no matter how impulsive – even if your first instinct is to order the 400-piece wing platter next time you’re at Hooters. Not sure if that exists, but you can ask Mandy, your waitress. Make sure she brings you extra napkins.

Lauren got sticky rice from a Thai truck, which, unbeknownst to me, is a freaking dessert! Rice for dessert? I had no clue. I’ve heard of rice pudding, but this thing looked like fancy dessert sushi. Sing this to the tune of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”: “I’m not fancy, I didn’t even kno-ow, that stick-y rice was an actual thing you can order for a Thai food truck.” See, it actually works, but you might have to jam those last 15 words together pretty fast to get it to sound right. Where there’s a will, there’s a way people!

You can check out more on our food truck cuisine sampling in the video above, but I will tell you a little bit about the fries. Affectionately referred to as Disco Fries, (at least here in New Jersey) they are known to the rest of the country (apparently) as New Jersey Poutine. I don’t know what the F poutine is, but I think Paxton Holley likes it. Disco Fries aren’t fries soaked in the sweat that has dripped onto the dance floor, nor are they possessed by the spirit of Barry F’n Gibb, but they are staples of a New Jersey diner menu. Freaking French Fries doused with gravy and melted mozzarella cheese.

We placed an order for Disco Fries at Romano’s Fries Truck, a truck who has an exclusive deal with C&C Cola. Depending on where you’re from you may have never heard of this soda, but it was always a reasonable alternative to the mainstream soft drinks in the grocery store. That didn’t swerve my opinion on this truck though. We waited patiently for what felt like 14 years for these stupid fries. Minus the exaggeration and I think we waited nearly 30 minutes, no joke. These were fries we were waiting for mind you, not a sizzling Kobe strip steak cooked to perfection. Finally, we received the equivalent of the fries you might get at the snack bar at your nephews Little League game, but drizzled with a little bit of gravy and some cheese. Meh. Nothing beats an NJ diner for these.

The ice pops were by far my favorite selection and the only thing I gravitated to immediately. Peace. Love. POPS are all natural, handcrafted ice pops made in New Jersey. The creative flavors are so dead on balls accurate and refreshing that I am 100% recommending that you try them if you are ever in the North Jersey area. Their cart is often seen around the streets of Hoboken. The pops are little pricey, but it’s worth it. Considering the care that is taken in their preparation and the fact that a good chunk of the money you pay for one goes to charity, these ice pops are well worth the purchase. Eventually the company wants to get these into a few local supermarkets and I hope they succeed! Check out their official Facebook page at this link.

A list of flavor options were detailed on their chalk board. The decision was easy for me. Without hesitation I chose Honeydew Ginger Mint because I love honeydew and mint, but F the ginger. Mike and Lauren got the Pineapple Mojito and Strawberry Lemonade. All of these were awesome. You can watch us inhale them in the video. They hit the spot on a hot, swamp-assy Saturday.

We just about had our fill with the food truck fest and we decided we still had some motivation left in the tank. “Why don’t we see if there’s any comic book stores around here?” Lauren said, and we concurred that it was a great idea. Sitting in the back of the Mikemobile, I started searching on my phone for the zip codes of each town we passed through to cross check them on the comic locator site. God, that might be the geekiest sentence I’ve written in 10 years of this blog.

In total, we stopped at 3 comic book shops, all of which I’d never been to before. Now we are entering critical territory because this damn post should really be two parts, but I wouldn’t do that to you…the waiting is the hardest part so said Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. F*ck it, let the Comic Book Store Tour commence!

I am always supportive of local stores and independent business, but I’ve been wrapped up in Comixology since day one because I wanted in on digital comics in a bad way, mostly because of the lack of storage space in my condo. Don’t get me wrong, I still own all the comics I’ve had since I was a kid, but I have no need for physical comics anymore. Plus, I am crazy about the guided reading style of the digital format. If you’ve never experienced it, try it out, I think you’ll dig it.

Our first stop was literally across the street from the food truck fest. All in One Collectibles in Randolph was filled with tables with some hardcore gaming going down. The large shop was stocked with 9 million Heroclix, comics, a few toys, and a ton of sports and non-sports trading cards. I was getting antsy. Onto the next one.

Next stop: Madison, NJ, a quaint, movie-set type town where we arrived at Dewey’s Comic City. The interior was nice and it was like the Barnes and Noble of comic shops, only smaller. It was neatly filled to the brim with every type of comic and graphic novel you can think of. The concentration was on new releases rather than old, but they still had a sizable collection of back issues as well as some random collectibles and t-shirts.

I think Mike saved the best for last. He hinted earlier that we should go to COMIC FORTRESS in Somerville, NJ and I was game. I always say YES to going anywhere that has Fortress in it’s name (i.e Fortress of Fangs, Fortress of Steele.) This place was seriously as incredible as Mike mentioned, (read Stop #6 on his Free Comic Book Day Tour log.) Not only do they have quite a huge selection of comics stocked on the shelves, but they also have the largest inventory of DC and Marvel statues, busts, and action figure collector sets that I’ve ever seen in a comic/collectible shop. If it was the early ’90s I’d probably be begging my Dad to bring me to this vast emporium every week after we made our stop at Steve’s Comic Relief.

I’m proud of myself. As much as I was tempted, I bought nothing all day except 2 giant sized Red Bulls.

As if all the previous excitement on this day wasn’t enough, I didn’t think it could get any more fantastical, but, IT DID! We inadvertently extended our little adventure even more. While walking back to the car we stumbled upon the Somerville Antique store. This place pulled me in like I was in a tractor beam. With zero expectations of the enchanted land of tchotchkes, we entered. Before us was the most insanely huge antique store I’ve ever set foot in. Two expansive floors with nooks and crannies of non-stop antique absurdity.

If I described all of what I saw at the antique store we’d be here for another 37 paragraphs and I don’t want to do that to you. It would be a violation of common decency. To see the contents of this wondrous, albeit pricey place, go watch the video!

Easter Bunny Blasphemy!

Mallrats
JAY: “You’re f*cking kidding me, the Easter Bunny did this?
BRODIE: “All I said was the Easter Bunny at the Menlo Park Mall was more 
convincing and he just jumped the railing and knocked me down”
JAY: “He’s f*ckin’ dead…”
BRODIE: “Oh, let it go he’s under a lot of pressure.”
T.S: “What the hell happened to him?”
JAY: “The guy in the Easter Bunny suit kicked his ass!”

The territorial aspect of Kevin Smith’s films can’t be fully appreciated unless you are from New Jersey. If you’re from Pittsburgh, PA or Peoria, IL, the effect is not exactly the same. It’s like the way that people from Dallas felt a part of the long running prime time soap based on the Texas city, and it’s also no different than the way people in Philly connect with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. If you’re an outsider you probably didn’t know that the people who suit up as Easter Bunnies at malls in Central New Jersey have a bad chip on their shoulder, so don’t f*ck with them!

This doesn’t mean that if you are a non-Jerseyan you like Mallrats less than us, it’s just in a different way. Much like Clerks, it was a thrill when I first saw Mallrats in the theater since there were so many references to the local area. The mall scenes in Mallrats were not filmed in Jersey, but Brodie mentions Menlo Park Mall in Edison, New Jersey. Menlo Park Mall was quite an institution. It was one of those places where my family and everyone we knew would be at constantly. I have fond memories of it, especially before it’s revamp in the early ’90s.

Along with the above Easter Bunny scene, Mallrats also has an exterior shot of the old U.S #1 Flea Market. It was a legendary emporium that I also used to frequent a lot as a kid with my family. The flea market closed years ago to make way for a Loews Cineplex, which has since been taken over by AMC Theaters.

Back in 1995, even though it was merely through a couple of quick references, Smith provided a completely fresh take on Jersey in Mallrats.  He put Jersey on a pedestal, years before it was considered trendy. When Kevin Smith was originally embracing his home state there were no reality shows, and especially none that took place in Jersey. At that time Jersey wasn’t getting a lot of play in movies either, and when it did, it was usually the butt of a joke.

Smith also pioneered the fact that it was cool to be a geek. I can’t claim that trend to have originated in New Jersey but I can tell you that since then Seth Cohen from the O.C and the guys on Big Bang Theory as well as many others have been proud of their geeky lifestyle. They can thank Kevin Smith for making Brodie one of the coolest S.O.B’s in the history of movies. He’s literally a fanboy icon. I used to think that if a guy who liked comic books and video games as much as Brodie did could be that cool, it just reassured me that there were others like me out there. Although I doubt I’d ever choose a game of NHL Hockey on Genesis over a roll in the hay with a bitter, post 90210 Shannen Doherty, but that’s another story.

Smith’s films have helped geeks become proud of their fixations and he’s created films that have upped New Jersey’s coolness factor. For example, after Mallrats came out, people in Tonganoxie, Kansas thought we slackers in Jersey were pretty f’n rad, and meticulous with our comic book collections. I have news for you, we still are.

Wonder Woman Day IV: 10/25/09 in Flemington, NJ

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Sunday October 25th, 2009
12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
FREE!
Special guest artist signings:
Joe Sinnott, Chris Muller, Ken Haeser, Rob Kramer, Buz Hasson

42 Main Street
Flemington, NJ
908-788-0599

Wonder Woman fans should also check out these sites:

The Sexy Armpit @ New York Comic Con ’09 Part 2

I only walked a few blocks from the parking garage to the Javitz Center, but I froze my baguettes off! Frozen innards and frostbitten digits were a small price to pay for the opportunity to schmooze with like minded individuals. There’s something about geek society; whether it’s talking comics, trading links to websites, or discussing the pros and cons of the new G.I Joe film, it makes you feel like you belong.
After the lingering Comic Con buzz, going back to work and hangin’ and bangin’ at the gym was a real bitch. I’ll be honest, I’m running on fumes. So far today I’ve downed an energy drink AND a medium iced coffee – black, but somehow, it’s just not enough. JUST NOW, I took the precaution of gulping down this Health energy potion that the people from Mana Potions booth gave me to test out. 

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Let’s hope I’m not up for the next 5 hours since I’ll need at least a few hours of sleep so I can be relatively coherent for work tomorrow. The cool little bottle is definitely eye catching. When I stopped by their booth, the blue and red varieties nearly glowing through the clear bottles made me feel like I was in a video game and just found a “power up” potion. (Their motto happens to be Replenish or Perish!) The scantily clad Mana girls did a decent job enticing me as well. The Health potion has tons of vitamins, folic acid, and even biotin which has numerous health benefits. Even though it tastes only a step above children’s liquid cough medicine, I was in it for the “energy” portion of the potion. The formula which includes ginseng, caffeine, taurine, amino acids, elderberry juice, and other ingredients gives the formula it’s “get up and go.” I can ignore its medicinal taste and syrupy consistency as long as it works. It’s been a few minutes and I’m not feeling tired or jittery, but pretty good. I’ll let you know if I crash by the end of the article.

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I met Christof Laputka at the Leviathan Chronicles booth. Headphones were set up in the booth to listen to installments of his science fiction audio saga. Christof’s quite the renaissance man. He’s gone from Wall Street to traveling the world, and he’s not ashamed to hide the fact that he’s a just a geek at heart. As a kid he grew up obsessing over Science-Fiction shows like Battlestar Galactica. Christoff described his aural creation to me as a throwback to old time radio shows, which thanks to my dad, I grew up listening to. I’m sure there’s a ton of people out there who have no idea what it was like to tune the old Philco radio and listen to Inner Sanctum, The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, etc. Through cassette tapes he ordered from a mail order old time radio catalog, my Dad introduced a young impressionable Armpit into the “theater of the mind,” and I appreciate that he did. 

 
I popped The Leviathan Chronicles CD into my car stereo on my way to work and really got into it. I commend Christof for taking the chance to release this series; what better time than now? Everyone has an iPod or an mp3 player and FREE, high quality content is hard to come by. It seems like a no brainer and I hope the Leviathan chronicles gains a large following because that would open the door for Christof to produce other audio adventures. There’s plenty of websites doing original fictional programs for download but I’m going to wager that they don’t have the production quality of the Leviathan Chronicles. A description in their press release sums up the scale of the production: “The cast includes over 40 voice actors, cutting edge sound effects, and an original musical score.” The soundtrack really does rock! Each show is free and ranges from 30-40 minutes. You can find it FREE at their website or on iTunes!
NJ at NY Comic Con!
While Making my way around Comic Con it was great to see so much New Jersey representation! Like I mentioned about others in part 1, Rob Feldman of Earworm Media (based out of Jersey!) is another guy, who turned out to be a phenomenal dude! Rob didn’t know me from a vampire hiding behind his booth, but once I discovered that we had New Jersey in common we had a few laughs and then he introduced me to his creation, Dr. Shroud

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Robert even posed for a couple of photos. Here’s a priceless moment where Rob struck what he coined “The Sexy Armpit Pose,” that goes to show you that Rob was brave, and hands down the coolest guy in the entire Javitz Center that day!

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Shame on me for not knowing about Dr.Shroud already! It’s nearly impossible to keep up on EVERYTHING! When you have entire seasons of Dallas stored in YOUR brain, miss some things your radar will! Dr. Shroud is a radtastic animated series available on the Internet and mobile phones. Shroud is a plastic surgeon with a secret past as a reformed vampire. Shroud’s daughter gets kidnapped by vampires that lurk in the city of Necropolis. Shroud embraces his former vampiric ways to defeat the city’s evil creatures in his quest to track down his daughter. The animated series features stylish animation, a creepy atmosphere, and an awesome soundtrack! Rob gave me a cool set of Dr. Shroud fangs so I can act out scenes at home. Thanks Rob! You can watch full episodes at Joost:
Skullboy threw me for a loop when I saw how creepy he looked with his Misfits style face paint. I looked down and saw the all too familiar outline of NJ all over his table! There were t-shirts, stickers, and some killer skull art. All of a sudden, Skullboy reached his hand up and gave me one of his skullboy styled New Jersey stickers! That kicked ass!

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Skullboy is truly adding to the great art culture in New Jersey and spreading the infectious Jerseyana. In fact, he’s not only a dedicated artist, but he’s also an event organizer. Skullboy has been putting on shows that mix art and rock music all over the state. Here’s some of Skullboy’s creations:

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For show info go to myspace.com/theartofskullboy

To purchase his artwork, T-shirts, or stickers go to skullboy.net
Image comics: Jersey Gods!

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I literally had to stand and wait for a middle aged female newspaper reporter from the Star Ledger to finish her “interview” with Glen Brunswick, writer of Jersey Gods. It was clear that she had to have been given this assignment to tackle, because either her interview skills sucked ass or she was completely unfamiliar with anything comic book related aside from reading the Jersey Gods comic. I bet the Jersey Gods and Ziggy are the only comics she ever read in her life.
I’m standing there like Biff Tannen with my arms folded all cocky thinking “Well lookie what we have here…” some self important newspaper reporter trying to horn in on Comic Con. When I saw Jersey Gods for the first time I thought to myself “a match made in heaven!” It was as good as Macho Man and Elizabeth…a comic book filled with superheroes published by Image comics and it’s based in NEW JERSEY? It seems like it was created specifically for me to write about on this site.
If I could only get a word in edgewise. Every time Glen was about to cut over to me, she kept going and going with more irrelevant questions. She’s a wonderful, insightful, writer and I enjoy her articles, but I can’t say that I use the same interview style as she does. The whole situation made me feel uncomfortable. It felt like my 7th grade math teacher was interviewing a guy who WRITES AN IMAGE COMIC BOOK! It’s not supposed to happen! My mother interviewing Nikki Sixx would easily be 10,000 times more entertaining.
I’ve been reading comic books for over 25 years now, and for some reason I just felt protective of my passion. This lady had to pause and write notes on a pad every time Glen gave her a response! C’mon lady! Step into reality, we’re approaching the year 2010! We have digital voice recorders that can detect the sound of a pin dropping at a Gwar concert. Finally she finished momentarily with Glen and he directed his attention to ME! I explained to him what I do here at the Armpit and he was very enthusiastic about it. I mentioned that I’d like to review a copy for the site, so you can expect a full review here coming soon! Saturday morning rolled around, and sure as shit, as I was walked out of the gym I looked over on the Star Ledger rack, and staring back at me was a pic of Glen Brunswick and Dan McDaid at Comic Con with Amy Nutt’s interview. It made the front page! 
Aside from the invasion of all of these “official” print/TV people, the Comic Con was just a great time. The legit press folks should stay out of comic con though. If you are a virgin do you go to watch the Rocky Horror Picture show at your local theater? I would advise not to. The majority of important news events only invite certified media and “prominent” bloggers, so why should we let them into our world? Bloggers, podcasters, vloggers, and all the other mavericky online criers are welcome at Comic Con. We gotta keep some shit to ourselves! I hate the mainstreaming of geek! 
BTW: I didn’t crash. I feel energized but not shaky. Perhaps that Health potion is the real deal?

The Sexy Armpit @ New York Comic Con ’09 Part 1

It’s highly possible that a fanboy could very well “totally geek out” out at Comic-Con, it’s our form of cardiac arrest except it’s more emotional, ridiculous, and involves more girlish yelps. 

This was my first official Comic Con and it was exactly as exhilarating as I expected. John Malkovich, in one of my favorite SNL sketches from this season involving a calculator, had a line that’s become an oft used quote in my repertoire: “I’m going to need freak out control.” After surviving the natural disaster that is NYC traffic, the accident that was holding up the flow for several miles at my Turnpike exit, and the aberration of forgetting my iPod, (no tunes in the car!!!) I finally made it home. I was mentally and physically drained since I spent 6 hours trying to contain my excitement and actually put my “freak out control” into effect. Then there’s the fact that I lose my patience while driving, especially when navigating around Manhattan. FYI – KITT was no help at all. Scumbag. I did a shitload of walking, probably made my way through every aisle 2 – 3 times, and I was forced to eat some fairly awful empanada from a lemonade stand that was fresh out of lemonade. What can ya do? There wasn’t much to choose from at Comic Con in the food department but there were plenty of artists, cosplayers, and a ton of geeky new stuff to check out. Read on!

Lots of Video Game Previews!

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This is Jared Carr, art director for the upcoming DC Universe Online game was much more informative and cooler than the folks at the Ghostbusters video game preview. The specific reason I wanted a PS3 was to get the DCU game and fans have been waiting quite a long time for it. “We’re not discussing dates” Jared told me. WTF man? Give me a break, honestly. Comic Con wants the masses to come and visit all the latest products and kiosks, but if the game isn’t coming out anytime soon then what’s the sense on wasting a whole booth for it? If the makers of the game are trying to avoid setting a date only to have to push it back 3 times, that’s understandable. The burning question people want an answer to is WHEN will it come out!?! 

I spent a good 20 minutes talking to Jared and despite him seeming rather irritated that I asked the release date, he was extremely easy to interact with and provided a lot of great insight into what the game is going to be like. You’ll be playing as a character YOU create and the customization is basically without limits. The landscapes and graphics in the game are beautiful and flawless. The PS3 version for instance has no noticeable difference visually to the common person even though the creators of the game naturally had more leeway in terms of power when working on the PC version. Jared told me that every map, area, street, city, and point of interest has been researched with the DC comics team which means the player will be officially emerged into the DC Universe when playing. 

The new Ghostbusters game looks awesome although they didn’t have as many of the actual makers of the game at their booth. At least when I was there they had hired hands who kept asking people only to take still shot photos and NO video. The DCU game people were OK with video AND still shots. Regardless, I’m buying both of the games for sure. You can find plenty of video and screen caps from the new Ghostbusters game all over the Internets. They actually DO have a release date (6-16-09) and the Ghostbusters Blu-ray comes out the same day!

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Legends of Wrestlemania is gearing up to serve as nostalgia to the old school WWF fans and also bring wrestling video games back to the basics. For years, wrestling video games have grown to feature complicated game play, intricate combinations, and other nonsense that the casual gamer doesn’t want to deal with. The best wrestling games were from back in the day. Games like Super Wrestlemania and Royal Rumble on Genesis and Super NES were so much fun that I’d be hanging out at a friends house playing them for hours on end. Legends of Wrestlemania is authentic since it features all the major classic WWF stars and their entrance themes. The venues to choose from have been those that have hosted Wrestlemania. The fueds and options are all based around classic Wrestlemania matchups. It’s literally a WWF/WWE fans dream come true. The American Dream Dusty Rhodes was there to sign autographs and promote the game which will be release on 3-24-09:


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THE ARTISTS

There were many artists who had other business to tend to throughout the day. Some of the artists were doing signings or interviews and had someone else sitting in for them at points throughout the day to sell their artwork. Unless you’ve sought out pictures of the actual artists you’re a fan of, or have met them before, you may not know what they look like. At several of the artists’ tables I passed, I couldn’t be sure if it was really them or not so I always made it a point to look at their professional badges around their neck.

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Even though I read his name on his tag “Dean Yeagle,” I verified “Is it really you!?!” I was so excited to meet this guy since he’s a legend in my book. I was first introduced to his art when I first saw his
Mandy character getting into mischief in the pages of Playboy magazine. His art is playful and amusing, with a dash of big-eyed Disney wonder. He signed a hardcover copy of Mandy’s Shorts that I bought. Check out his company at www.cagedbeagle.com


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Within the past year or so I really got into the pinup art of Amano Jyaku. Since I’ve never attended an official Comic-Con before, (been to a slew of conventions) I didn’t realize that I’d be running into artists and other folks who I knew solely through cyberspace. Creators and other people that I’ve become a fan of online seem to be imaginary until I actually meet them. As I strolled up and down the “Artists Alley,” I quickly glanced at a portfolio book and was immediately familiar with the pin-up style girls staring at me from inside the plastic sheets. It was Amano Jyaku, an artist I became friends with through seeing his art on various websites and on Myspace. I spoke with him and Paigey Pumphrey about how the Internet has opened so many doors for artists who, without the ‘net, might be struggling or forced to confine their skill to simply a hobby. I purchased 2 prints that he signed for me: 

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Amano’s guitar hero hottie (check out his logo on the guitar!)

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Amano’s a big fan of spiced rum, 
hence his love for sexy pirate chicks! I love that blue streak in her hair!


The magic of comic con or any convention of this type is not only the chance to meet the artists and industry people that you are familiar with or look up to, but also hopefully discover an artist or a book you haven’t heard of. Thanks to the Con, I became aware of Jamie Fay for and his awesome art for the first time. I fell totally in love with one of his Emma Frost pieces and I refused to leave without a signed print:

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Ms Emma Frost by *windriderx23 on deviantART

Another artist who I was pleased to discover was Richard P. Clark. His diverse portfolio is dramatic and mesmerizing. Clark is a truly versatile artist since he creates everthing from caricatures, and comic book characters to still life paintings. Richard was the type of guy who made me feel like I was already friends with him. He was sociable, funny, and appreciative. Clark was curious about The Sexy Armpit.com and it got a few laughs out of him. He signed an awesome Director Bones DC Comics foil card that he illustrated. www.zippystudio.com

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Almost everyone I ran into snickered when they read my badge, that in a plain black font labeled me as “The Sexy Armpit.com.” It’s become somewhat of a nickname and I always get a few chuckles or comments, which I invite or I wouldn’t have kept this name otherwise! Thanks to all those who handed me stuff for review and answered my questions. New York Comic Con isn’t as revered as the San Diego Con, but I was still thrilled by the experience and I recommend getting your ass to one of them if you can. Check back soon for Part 2 of my trip the NY Comic Con!

What the World needs now is Comic Book Stores, Sweet Comic Book Stores

I’m not a big fan of shopping but I’m a sucker for a good comic book store. Growing up, going to a comic book store was one of the main things that I looked forward to. Aside from new comics, you could find boxes of 10 cent comics, random junk, posters, and the newest collectibles. Unfortunately there aren’t many decent comic stores around anymore. I think it has more to do with the personal connection that many of us had with the store owners and employees back then.

I was immersed in comic book collecting from a very young age. It all started with a back issue my sister picked up for me, Batman #349. It was 1985 and she bought it at the store that occupied the future spot of Heroes World in Woodbridge Center, I believe it was called The Paper Tiger. The cover is still etched in my mind and the style of Batman and Robin is still a favorite cover of mine ’til this day. I prefer Bronze Age Batman which is reflected in the ’70s and early ’80s comics books. For a better idea of these you can take a look at this site where you can find comic book covers of all kinds. I began collecting several Batman titles, some Superman, Supergirl, The Outsiders, and The Green Hornet to name a few. It was pretty difficult to find a comic book store before the Batman movie in ’89 created Batmania all over the place. Luckily, I started collecting before the Batman movie was on the horizon. At that time comics were getting more and more popular but they were still bought by a relatively small fan base.

My favorite shop, Comic Relief in Colonia, was where my father would take me every week. They had some really good people working there who would remember me and hold my “pull list” of comics for me back when I didn’t even know what a pull list was. For those that don’t know – they always remembered what titles I collected and which issues I was looking out for. Stores aren’t as personal anymore now that eBay and online shops exist. You don’t even have to go searching anymore, you can type in the issue and order it in a few seconds! Not to sound like an old fogey, but it was more fun back when you actually went to the shop and searched for a specific issue in the back issues boxes. It was a great feeling of excitement when you first walked in and saw all the new issues on display. What wasn’t fun was the point you realized you had a stack of 10 books and you were about to pay close to 40 bucks for them! Occasionally for a change of pace we’d go to Tommy’s Cards and Comics in Metuchen. Tommy, the owner, always acted real cocky and wore odd fishing hats. Not necessarily the kind of guy you want to buy your comics from.

Comic Relief in Colonia and Heroes World closed and I was constantly being jerked back and forth like I was on a bumper car. An avid comic collector such as myself was left without a store to get comics at. Heroes World became my destination for comic, collectibles, and action figures for several years. Later, Comic Attitudes in Menlo Park Mall was close to me and a decent enough replacement for a while. The people working there were kind of snotty and they were also overpriced probably due to Mall overhead. Eventually, out of the several locations of Jim Hanley’s Universe, the most convenient for me was the one in Fords near Vintage Vinyl. I liked Jim Hanley’s a lot more than Comic Attitudes since it catered more to the fanboy, not the mall shopper.

It wasn’t until I was about 13 years old that I discovered what I consider the mecca of comic book stores, Midtown Comics in Manhattan. I had an sensory overload when I realized all of the comics, shirts, toys, and hard to find bootleg videos they had. The only problem was that I only had the time and money to get to Manhattan maybe once a month. I started heading into Manhattan once a month to load up on comics. That was before I even had a license! NJ Transit back and forth. After the demise of Jim Hanley’s in Fords and Comic Attitudes, I started giving Adventure Planet in Edison a try. They had a great selection of books without all the glitz of other places like Comic Attitudes. It reminded me most of Comic Relief. In fact, I believe their store was originally a location of another Comic Relief. They also had a killer selection of used and new toys and figures. I used to sell a lot of my stuff to them.

I began this post basically saying there are no more comic book stores around here. That’s not really accurate, because they are around, they just aren’t the same. Or is it that I’m just older? Or is it that the personal touch and rapport that a frequent comic buyer and a store owner/employee used to have with each other?

We still have hope. I visited Little Shop of Comics in Scotch Plains and it’s a pretty decent little store. They have lots of collectibles and a wide selection of new and indy comics. Thanks to Miss Sexy Armpit, another store I visited about a year ago is actually called The Record Store in Howell. It’s pretty awesome and has a large selection of figures, comics, collectibles, and music. My buddy Rebecca reminded me that there was also Rogue Comics in Cranford, which is also a good stop.  Classic Comics in Rahway is OK, but it feels like they’re watching you when you’re browsing. I hate that. Finally, I can’t leave out Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash which is a fun stop at anytime I’m in Red Bank. If you know of any great comic shops please post/link them. Thanks!