ExtraComicular Activities #3: The Clifton Comic Book Expo!

Comic purists usually shoot a cross with their fingers at me when I admit that I stopped buying actual comic books years ago. As soon as it was available, I switched abruptly to digital through Comixology. While I absolutely hate the fact that I can’t purchase the comics directly though their app anymore, I still love the immersive, guided reading experience that they offer because it’s the closest I can get to replicating the similar feeling I got when I was a kid reading the old See, Hear, and Read book and record sets, only sans audio.

Regardless of not collecting hard copies anymore, that doesn’t mean I don’t love a good comic expo. I’ve been to shows that had 5 tables of comics and to the ones where you can barely navigate through the sea of cosplayers. Fortunately, in the middle, are Pug’s Comic Expos of North Jersey. Pug Productions has faithfully put on comic book shows around North Jersey ever since I can remember. My Dad took me to these in the early ’90s when they were basically the premiere comic convention in Jersey without having to cross the river over to New York. Mind you, these shows are far from being on the level of a New York Comic Con, but they make up for their scale by laser focusing on comic books. Sure, there’s always a few tables with some action figures, trading cards and random plush toys, but for the most part, the Pug comic shows are meant for serious comic collectors without all the B.S and veiled advertising of the big shows.

Sunday welcomed the early signs of Spring and I happily absorbed every bit of it. The insane sub zero conditions and constant snowstorms made this winter excessively depressing in New Jersey this year, so this was a perfect chance to get out of the house and look through a hundred long boxes of dusty old comics with Matt from Dinosaur Dracula, who actually came up with the great idea to go. With the sun shining and temperatures warm enough to start melting mountains of snow that piled up throughout this abysmal winter, a quick drive up the Garden State Parkway was just what the doctor ordered.

Arrived: Community Recreation Center – Clifton, NJ

I noticed the old school NJ Devils mural above me as I walked into a big bright room that was starting to fill up with a bunch of mellow comic lovers. It was as if it was in some kind of artists loft.

Since I wasn’t looking for anything specific, I really left fate in the hands of the cover art. If it grabbed me then I grabbed it. With comic books, the covers are deceiving and are rarely a good indication of whether it’s going to be a worthwhile read or not. Chances are slim that I actually wind up reading any of these though. They’ll probably get more of a thumb-through job at most. Sounds pretty dirty, but accurate. The two limited collectors’ editions may get full-on reads, but I’ll get to them last.

It’s been unpopular to be a DC guy for most of my existence on Earth (Earth-One that is!), but I’ve been one for better or worse since 1982. Hence, as expected, my haul was DC heavy with a GI Joe and Vampirella thrown in for good measure. Most of the comics I bought ranged from 50¢ cents to $10 dollars. Let’s see what I came home with:

JLA #121, December 2005 
DC Comics

Arrow and Black Canary on the cover was the driving force of this pickup. Actually, who am I kidding? There was no way in hell I would pass up Black Canary’s lady parts all up in my face! C’mon, we know Canary is agile and even acrobatic, but in this issue, every chance she gets she’s putting her vajayjay on displayay. There’s no way the artist didn’t realize this. Before even opening the book, there was a possible 69 situation with one of my favorite female characters in all of the DCU, but after skipping through merely 3 pages…BANG there’s another one! As Black Canary narrowly escapes the path of Green Arrow’s exploding arrow, she’s spread eagle again, er, spread Canary more appropriately. For the record, here’s a “Hey now!” Worth the price of 50¢ cents, I’d say.

Canary Crotch Count: 3

GI JOE ACTION FORCE #13, May 1987 
Marvel Comics

I was pretty pumped to come across some back issues of Action Force for $2 bucks. Quickly, I remembered their larger format didn’t necessarily equal quality due to their super-thin paper that gives them a cheaper, newspaper supplement feel. It’s unimportant though when you check out the diabolically evil face on Destro playing Cobra like a marionette puppet. I love the concept and the colors really pop here too.

Inside, there’s a cool little scene where Scarlett takes the ferry to Manhattan from Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, our neighbors. You can see the Twin Towers in the background as they sail back from Manhattan. Later in the issue Destro stars in a Casablanca parody, you know, cause he loves his Bogey films.

VENGEANCE OF VAMPIRELLA #18, September 1995
Harris Comics

Although I’ve owned some Vampirella comics for many years, I’ve never actually read any of them. I’ve always meant to though. Although I adore it’s cover, this issue is not going to be my first foray into the exploits of the half naked seductive vampire. Not too much of interest inside this one, although the back cover is a completely different story. Hello nurse! I was greeted with a full page of Vampirella cosplay advertising Vampirelly strikes #1. And this stupid autocorrect keeps changing Vampirella to Vampirelly. VampiREALLY? Get off my back.


THE NEW TITANS #71, November 1990
DC Comics

This double sized issue is the first in a nine part storyline and it’s probably the most intriguing and well written of the stash I brought home. Why do you seem so stressed out, Nightwing? What I gather from the cover is that The New Titans 10th anniversary party didn’t go well so now Dick has to seek counseling. Starfire wasn’t happy with the puff pastry hors d’oeuvres and the Crab Rangoon was cold, WTF? The balloons were overinflated and they started to pop midway through the party (f*cking seriously?) which caused a ruckus in Cyborg’s earpiece. Shucks, this party was a bust guys.

Seriously though, Nightwing reminiscences about his team on their anniversary and we get a tour through his mind and get a front row seat of his thoughts and memories of each member. We see a retelling of some origins and his perspective of what qualities each member brings to the team.

There was also an interesting piece about how the Titans now have to keep track of all their cases, likely because it was becoming the technology age. As he sat near a computer, Dick described how different the team operates now, in some ways it’s easier but more challenging in others. Unlike the old days, they now worry about their finances! Can you imagine an entire one-shot comic detailing the bumpy road that Cyborg had to navigate to successfully file his income tax return? See, things were even meta back then since Dick was talking about licensing each team member for their own action figures.

A bizarre coincidence happened when I read through a panel that took place at the opera. A quick cameo by one of my favorites, Jillian Jackson, a.k.a Beast Boy’s girlfriend, made a comment to him about how she had tickets to see New Kids. What are the chances there would be an NKOTB reference in this comic? This proved to be even more weird since I bought Miss Sexy Armpit a couple of packs of unopened New Kids on the Block trading cards at the comic expo as well.


Possibly my favorite part was this whacked out convo about why Starfire needs to wear a bathing suit at the beach and how bathing suits make her feel inhibited. Meanwhile Dick is disguised as a ’70s porn star. This was the best thing in the whole comic haul. As an added bonus, there’s a cliffhanger with Deathstroke getting enlisted to help the Titans against that bastard Wildebeest to continue the story into the next several issues.

SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, LIMITED COLLECTOR’S EDITION, 1976
DC Comics

This book was a dollar originally, and if it came out today, given it’s size and the overinflated prices we see nowadays, it would probably be $12 at least. The first thing that hit me when I opened it up is that it totally stinks inside. The inside smells so foul it’s like a castle dungeon from the dark ages filled with decomposing corpses. That may have been too graphic, but I know actual people who were born the same year this came out and they don’t smell half as bad.

The book is in excellent condition otherwise and it was well worth the price of $10 bucks, in fact I might actually read this one eventually if I can survive the paper of eternal stench. The two page spreads of the diagram of Legion Headquarters and the wedding photo pinup of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel are awesome and frame worthy.

The other grabber for me here was Saturn Girl. I may cut her out and hang her on the wall of my prison cell if I ever wind up in jail.

SHAZAM: THE ORIGINAL CAPTAIN MARVEL, LIMITED COLLECTOR’S EDITION, 1974
DC Comics

My motivation for getting this one, in addition to mildly enjoying the character, was actually assembling the diorama that’s touted on the cover, but that would mean ruining the comic. I decided to look through all the pages to see what I’d be massacring. Turns out that it was filled with some pretty goofy, comic-strip type adventures. There’s no doubt that I enjoy these types of stories, but not enough to make me say say that I won’t cut the shit out of the back cover. Sorry Shazam. All things considered, I think having the diorama is going to be more fun in the long run than stashing away the comic in a pile of comics. Of course, when the Shazam movie comes out and this book’s price skyrockets to $150 on eBay, I will be kicking myself in the nuts with the strength of Hercules.


When buying stuff from discount long boxes under the tables, it’s easy to feel like you spent too much money since you’re probably going home with a bunch of books, but then you remember they were the least desirable books in the rec center that day, so you feel justified. You too can give books like these a new home for merely a stack of coins. Next show is March 29th! http://www.njcomicbookshows.com

Ms. Marvel #1 – Review by Mike Wirth a.k.a @IdiotAtPlay

I’m going to refrain from getting into my preference for DC over Marvel. Not avoiding it for any other reason that I would never argue that one is better than the other because I feel that neither side is better overall. Yes, Marvel may be putting out better, more lucrative movies and they have a more strategic long term vision for their product, oh, and they’re now owned by DISNEY. But with all those words that I just typed – all I really need to type in defense of DC is one word. BATMAN. So let’s not fight, OK? Moving on…

Mike Wirth, my friend of nearly 20 years, and co-everything on The Sexy Armpit show, has a badass blog of his own called Idiot At Play. If you haven’t visited it, I recommend clicking over there because he’s been banging out posts like a crazy person. Much like you see here at The Sexy Armpit, Mike reviews comics, movies, TV shows, and random events. Somewhere in all of that he finds the time to write actual books, like his first novel The Non-Linear Flow of the Universal Tides which you can buy basically wherever books are sold. I have the utmost respect for a guy who can write a blog, help me film YouTube videos with a sludge puppet, and write books, all while working full time. Dude makes me proud and ashamed of myself at the same time.

Back to the subject at hand. After I read about the new Ms.Marvel operating in New Jersey I had a few people e-mail and tweet me about it to see if I was aware of it. I was, but it never hurts to bring it to my attention again since stuff in my brain has a limited shelf life nowadays! Mike was the first to tweet me about it and although he thought it might be a good story for The Sexy Armpit, I always looked at him as my go-to Marvel Comics expert. Originally I wanted him to do a guest post on here, but he’s got a blog of his own so it makes much more sense for you to click over to the link below and read all about the new Ms. Marvel who hails from Jersey City:

*Is it me or does the Ms. Marvel cover remind you a little bit of the cover of Supergirl #1 from 1996?

New York Comic Con 2013 Recap by Jay

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We’re taking a brief break from the Halloween Countdown, and boy do I mean brief. I’m only 2 sentences in and I already want to get back to celebrating Halloween. New York Comic Con needs to happen in November. October is exclusively for packing in the most Halloween fun as humanly possible, not getting caught up in geekery and action figure exclusives…well there’s always a little room for that. New York Comic Con 2013 is now history, and I must say, if it weren’t for an insane headache and stomach ache, I had a good time. Of course, as usual, I have reservations about it though. Join me and I’ll tell you all about my experience this year at the Javitz Center.

This is only my 3rd official Comic Con which means in comic geek circles I’m an amateur. Not really though, because you only need to go to one of these boundless events to grasp how they work. I was always under the impression that Monster Mania and Chiller cons were chaotic, but they’re super tame in comparison. Comic Con literally brings in people from all over the world and packs them into the Javitz Center to the point where you can walk without getting jabbed by people’s costumes. You can’t walk through anywhere without asking people to let you get by because everyone is staring in awe at everything they pass. The amazing part is, only a fraction of these people read comics.

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I wouldn’t go a full post about comic con without posting the most bubbly and friendly Supergirl I’ve ever met. And what kind of cosplay does a New Jersey Pop Culture Blog post? 
Jay and Silent Bob cosplay of course! Snootchie Bootchies!

One of the main reservations I have about this event is that comic books and their artists haven’t been the main attraction in many years, and they obviously should be. The only reason I go to these is to meet the artists whose work I admire, and to possibly pick up some of their prints. Comic Con has become more about big time companies promoting their wares and cosplayers promoting themselves as a brand (nothing wrong with that, but some cosplayers are truly into the comics and the scene, while others just go as a chance to get pictures taken of themselves). Plus, don’t go thinking you’re going to get great deals on ANYTHING…cause you aren’t.

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Padme by artist Dennis Budd and Red Sonja by NJ artist Dave Bullock

Smaller scale comic book conventions are great for fetching you a ton of dirt cheap comics. Comic Con has tables with comic book sellers, but those prices aren’t that much more reasonable than what you’ll see on eBay. So, going for comics isn’t the best idea. Besides, I get my comics through Comixology anyway, so that solves that.

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The big comic book companies were there in full force, well, at least some of them were. Marvel was mobbed and they were doing gangbusters business. As expected, their booth was one of the most visited on the floor. Conspicuous by its absence was a DC booth. I looked all over for it, but little did I know that there was no DC booth on the con floor! I didn’t consult with the 380 page program that they handed me when I walked in, nor did I download the app in fears that I’d use up more battery power on my phone. If I did look at any of those things I’d probably know that the DC booth was tucked in a hallway far, far away. Once I finally found the limp DC booth about an hour after I arrived, I was so disappointed at what little they had to offer.

The DC booth had all the Superman movie costumes through the years displayed in glass cases. There was a DC video game station and a few other minor details, but nothing that enticed me to stay there longer than a minute or two. I didn’t see much in the way of free crap either.

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I haven’t watched our little friend Sam yet this Halloween season. Trick r Treat is on my watch list for this week and Afterlife with Archie is on my reading list.

Free crap is another big reason why people go to Comic Con. People love free crap. I learned my lesson from past Cons though. I used to take one of whatever was handed to me or available to grab. In the past I wound up with a giant bag of random comic con freebies that I didn’t know what to do with. I wound up trashing most of it and whatever was good enough to keep I gave away to whoever wanted it. I didn’t take one thing this time. OK, blatant lie. I DID take a Real Ghostbusters poster that FearNet was giving away. But that was it, I swear.

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Some NJ ink in the style of the NY Yankees logo and 
a poster for the new Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back MiniMates!

One obstacle with Comic Con is that you literally have to search for a way to keep your shit all together. Unless you come prepared with a giant bag or Uhaul, you might find yourself with a handful of stuff and you may find yourself in another part of the Javitz Center and you may ask yourself “where does that hallway go to?” IT GOES NOWHERE. IT GOES TO THE BATHROOMS. IT GOES NOWHERE YOU WANT IT TO GO. I REPEAT IT DOES NOT GO TO ARTIST ALLEY IF THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. And I ended up stealing a new garbage bag off the janitor’s garbage bin in order to hold all my stuff. Couldn’t find a damn bag anywhere. If they want me to come back they need to offer me a huge bag as soon as I walk in.

Anyway, good luck finding Artist Alley. You’ll have a better chance finding it if you wore ruby slippers, clicking your heels together, and letting a twister bring you there. For me, that’s the stuff I want and they bury it all the way on the other side of the building. Even on an extremely high speed people mover it would take you 39 minutes to get there from the main entrance. Screw that!

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Went to say hello to Dan Parent who I’ve met a few times and he was very cool as always. I bought a couple of pieces of art from him since I’m a fan of his and of Archie Comics in general. Here’s an original piece of Cherry Blossom and a print of Betty The Vampire Slayer vs. Vampironica. An excellent choice for Halloween!

A few of the toy booths I visited had some cool items that I was enticed by, but it turned out that the sellers weren’t at the table at the moment and they put random dudes in charge of their table. Said dudes knew nothing about pricing on anything and they weren’t authorized to make any sales themselves, so basically they were there to make sure people didn’t steal shit. That’s great for the person who was running the table because if they were in the mood for a sausage sandwich they could go grab one, but sucked for me since I stopped by the tables 6 times. I SAID I STOPPED BY THE TABLE 6 TIMES. 6 TIMES! Man I hope you get that reference. These guys were missing out on a possibly lucrative sale. Wait, what am I saying? What am I going to do with a repainted Skeletor figure that is supposedly rebranded as “art,” for $145 dollars. That’s just utterly f*cking ridiculous.

Go to take in the sights! Stay and absorb all the cosplayers hard work! But, most importantly, support the artists! The big major companies who are strategically situated on the con floor can afford it if you bypass their kiosk that’s merely serving as a sign up center for their silly e-mail list, so next time you go to Comic Con, head straight for Artist Alley and spend a good chunk of your time there. That’s where the magic happens. Literally. The con wouldn’t exist if artists and writers didn’t create the comics in the first place. Otherwise it would just be called New York Con and that’s just a dumb f*cking name.

ExtraComicular Activities #1: Dave Bullock

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My love of silly puns has has inspired me to bring you a new column here at The Sexy Armpit. All comic book related stuff will now be found under this heading. We’ll take a look at new comic books, comic artists, and the like, but it will somehow connects to Jersey, even in a roundabout way.

In this post we’ll take a look at some artwork by NJ artist and animation director Dave Bullock. Bullock’s old school style evokes images of comics from the ’40s and ’50s and blends it with a modern sheen to infuse his characters with a look that is original and refreshing.

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As we take a look at Bullock’s artwork, his versatility is apparent. I’m sitting here drooling over all of these. The New Teen Titans piece posted above would make an amazing animated series. He captures the ’80s era of the group so well, but yet still makes it look like an extremely viable possibility for a new show. I could also easily see his version of Batman above showing up in the same series.

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Masters of the Universe

Bullock’s illustrious professional career includes serving as director on the DC Animated movie Justice League the New Frontier and several episodes of the Spectacular Spider Man. He’s also worked in the Art and Animation department on more shows than you’ll ever be able to watch in your whole lifetime. Some of the shows that Bullock has worked on are a fan boys wet dream across the board: Transformers, Hulk, Superman, Batman, X-Men, Masters of the Universe, Kim Possible, Wonder Woman, The Avengers, and one of my personal favorites Sym-Bionic Titan.

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I’m not sure of his exact personal influences as an artist, but I do see a lot of Will Eisner and even hints of Steve Rude. Maybe one day we’ll get to speak to Dave about his amazing body of work. Presently Bullock is working on a project for Hasbro, but it’s under wraps. What’s more amazing is that this dude signs his stuff for free if you meet him at a convention! He often makes appearances, so you can keep up with his schedule at his blog FAR-OUT FICTION, which also details the development of his new original graphic novel called The Savage Blade of King Ronok, which looks friggin’ awesome.

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GREAT GEEK GORGE #7

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OZ The Great and Powerful

I can’t claim that I’ve read every single OZ book like our friend Pax at Cavalcade of Awesome, but I’ve been a huge fan of the OZ films since I was a little kid. The Wizard of OZ and Return to OZ have always been a couple of my favorite films of all time. I was also fortunate enough to see Return to OZ at Radio City Music Hall when it first came out for a Disney Summer Magic Spectacular which was an incredible day at Radio City in New York. So, I was pumped when I heard a prequel was coming out. I fought the wintry weather in Jersey and headed to theater with great anticipation.

I was looking forward to seeing if this talented cast could pull of some magic of their own. They did indeed. With the directorial efforts of Sam Raimi, they did what I never thought was possible by bringing an awesome OZ film to the big screen.The key aspect that was a major element for me is if they could make me feel like I was watching a movie that was presented on a grand scale. During the film I was truly sucked into the world of OZ, albeit one that was fully fleshed out with CGI and not made up of painted backdrops. The effects were fantastic and they weren’t overdone to the point where everything looked fake. There was fantasy, scares, and a lot of jokes. There was also many nods to the original film, most importantly for me was to see how the movie would transition from B&W to color. They didn’t go for the sepia tone that is used early on in The Wizard of Oz, but the B&W contrasted even better with the vibrant world of OZ.

The cast was strong and each actor brought an authentic performance. *Spoiler* I wanted to love Mila Kunis in the role of the Wicked Witch, but I had a hard time buying her as a demonic looking evil witch since we are used to seeing her as a sweetheart as in movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and even when she’s a materialistic airhead like Jackie in That ’70s Show. I felt like her role would’ve had more impact if she didn’t look like a demon. Apparently, from what I’ve read, they weren’t allowed to use the specific green color makeup used on Margaret Hamilton, but if Kunis’ makeup was a little more natural looking, it may have worked better, but I’m still satisfied with the result. Also, I’m not sure if Kunis recorded the Witch’s cackle or not, but it was pretty dead on.

Aside from the standout performances by James Franco as Oz himself and Michelle Williams as Glinda, the highlights of the film is the Garden Stater Zach Braff as Frank and OZ’s sidekick Finley the flying monkey and Joey King as China Girl. Also mentioned prominently is that OTHER Wizard who Oz admired…”The Wizard of Menlo Park, NJ,” Thomas Edison! New Jersey was represented well in this film and that was genuinely cool since I didn’t expect there to be any NJ love coming from the magical land of OZ. Even better news is that thanks to a strong opening weekend, supposedly a sequel is already being formulated at Disney.

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Marvel Alliance Action Figures

In past installments of this sporadic column, I’ve warned myself not to get into collecting another series of collectibles, but in this case I was powerless. Many of you know me as a DC guy, but I’m not against Marvel in any way. As a kid I was a huge fan of the Secret Wars figure line. Come to think of it, I always use Secret Wars, Star Wars, and Super Powers as the measuring stick for all other action figures.

I haven’t been collecting toys and figures as much as I used to since it’s all getting too expensive. But on a recent trip to Target for my niece’s birthday I ran into a sweet Punisher figure from the Marvel Alliance series. Also, for my birthday Miss Sexy Armpit got me Black Widow and Ghost Rider from this line.

These 3.75 inch figures are way overpriced at around $9.99, but the whole series is sculpted with much detail and they are meticulously painted, so they didn’t give me much of choice. We’ve come a long way from the Secret Wars line in terms of detail, but there was a sleekness and simplicity in those Mattel figures. Considering the size of these it feels like they were reaching out to me telepathically claiming “We’re the modern day equivalent to Secret Wars…COME PLAY WITH US!”

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Cracker Jack’d “Snacks With Impact”

Has anyone ever told you that you have a serious impulse control problem? Why yes Riddler, I’ve been told that many times. In fact, I told myself that at Hess Express on Saturday when I bought two bags of new Cracker Jack’d snacks. I must say, the branding is what made me curious enough to take the shot at buying them. If I didn’t have fond memories as a kid of eating Cracker Jacks that my Dad bought me I don’t think I would’ve give these new Jacks a second thought.

After tearing into the Chocolate Mocha bites first, I really enjoyed the flavor. These are little chocolate covered nuggets of what almost has the interior texture of chocolate crunchies from an ice cream cake or some wafer-like cookie, but with a flavor of strong coffee, like an espresso. These little bites also contain real coffee beans and are caffeinated. The problem with them is that due to the chocolate they are pretty high in fat. If you don’t care about that then I recommend these because they are tasty. I actually did feel the effects from the caffeine whereas a few other reviewers around the Internet claimed they didn’t get even a minor caffeine buzz. There’s also a vanilla mocha flavor which I didn’t see at the store or else I would’ve picked it up.

As for the other bag, the Spicy Pizzeria flavor (Intense Mix) were pretty mundane. There’s a bunch of pretzel type bits in the bag along with a bunch of other random and nondescript pieces of other snacks or nuts dusted with Pizza flavoring. The flavoring is questionable. It’s definitely not reminiscent of pizza flavoring from Combos or Keebler Pizzarias unfortunately. Pass on this one.

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Doritos Jacked Ranch Dipped Hot Wings

Skip these. Just skip them as furiously as possible. If I had the time traveling means of Bill & Ted I would’ve had my past self to visit me in the present day at the local Target to warn me NOT to buy these silly things. They “Jacked” Doritos are masquerading as real Doritos when in fact they are a completely different and extremely less enjoyable tortilla chip. The flavor varieties are great, but they don’t pull them off well. I didn’t find the ranch dipped hot wings to taste authentic at all. The hot wings OR ranch flavor didn’t really hit me. As I stated in my last post about these, they are too large. I always find myself having to break them into pieces to actually eat them. In addition, they are too hard and too crunchy. If you’re the type of person who loves snacks that have the potential to break your teeth, then get these, but they should not exist as Doritos. You can never go wrong with the regular line of Doritos. The Jacked should cease to exist.

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.64: Captain America

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“Oh, you’re from Paramus now? You know it’s illegal to lie on your enlistment form. And seriously, Jersey?” – Sgt. James “Bucky” Barnes 
Prior to becoming The First Avenger, the meek Steve Rogers lied on his enlistment forms in his many attempts to get into the army. His various physical issues disqualified him from serving military duty in World War II. I love that Captain America himself lied and said he was from New Jersey to get into the army. Captain Paramus just doesn’t have the same ring.

Prior to its release, the concept art and trailers for Captain America were enough to sell me on the Marvel Studios film. Still, that didn’t mean I would be motivated enough to actually venture out to the movie theater to see it! Unless it’s a huge event for me, I wait for Redbox or Netflix. Sure, Captain America looked awesome, but it didn’t get me as psyched as you would’ve thought. Last Friday I finally sat down to view the film on bluray, better late than never, right? It turns out that I didn’t fully agree with the majority considering it has a fresh rating of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes.

In my world, one of the cards stacked against Marvel is that I’ve always been a DC guy. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy Marvel characters, comics, or movies, but I’m just more into DC comics. Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk were both brought to the screen in a very cool way. Shit, I even liked Fantastic Four! Although, during the time Thor was in theaters, all I kept hearing was how bad it was from friends of mine. After I finally saw it, I thought it kicked ass! It was so much better than I had heard. It wasn’t the greatest super hero film ever, but it was definitely a fun movie. After seeing Thor, I got pumped for the upcoming Avengers film and wanted to make sure I saw Captain America next.

As exciting as it originally seemed, Captain America fell a bit short of my expectations. I was convinced that this would be Marvel’s best superhero film thus far, but Iron Man still holds that title. That’s not to say Captain America was bad at all, in fact, the more I think about it, the more it seems that it was everything it could have been. The fact that it’s an origin story held back the action. Just the thought of a sequel sounds more exciting than the first. The casting of the film was fairly dead-on. Chris Evans played Cap perfectly, Hugo Weaving was killer as Red Skull, and Stanley Tucci was awesome as Dr. Erskine. The only exception for me was Hayley Atwell who was pretty bland as leading lady Peggy Carter. All the elements were there, but it still wasn’t a complete home run for me.

Overall, the film lacked the high level of adventure that Iron Man and Thor had. Again, that was most likely due to the hindrance of having to tell Cap’s origin story. If you are comic geek like me then you can do without origins because we’ve heard them all before. Reintroduction of these iconic characters is a necessary evil though. Many folks in the country don’t even remember TV’s Captain America from the late ’70s and Albert Pyun’s take on the character from 1990. Finally, we have a definitive Captain America film that looks superb on bluray, so, mission accomplished Cap! Now onto The Avengers!

New York Comic Con 2010

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My video montage of The 2010 New York Comic Con
Music by Kevin MacLeod

I say screw all the people having a blast in San Diego right now! I’m content waiting a few months for the 2011 New York Comic Con! Originally, I had plans to publish my review of The 2010 New York Comic Con shortly after it happened in October, but for several reasons I held out. The Internet is blitzed with all kinds of content and updates about both the New York Comic Con and it’s big brother on the west coast so I figured I’d wait it out a bit. Then before I knew it, months began to pass. I had my review on the back burner to drop it when no one was expecting a review of an event that they’ve already heard about months prior. My theory was that geeks, fanboys, and even your typical everyday Joe Schmo ALWAYS want to read about Comic Con. If you continue reading this, then you have proven my theory correct.

Comics from 2010 New York Comic Con
Trick, Treat or Comics?!?!

MORE? That’s what last year’s New York Comic Con offered. Demos, Artists, Dealers; there was more of everything. Even though I’ve never been to the San Diego Comic Con, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that the New York show’s reputation pales in comparison. I’m actually glad that the New York show hasn’t gotten as out of hand and ridiculous as SD because I would start to fear going to the Con rather than wait in baited breath all year for it. Ultimately I just want to walk around the floor all by myself.

What’s the allure of the con? Is it the crazed fans dressing up in their favorite characters costume? Or maybe the stars that come out to promote the blockbuster movies that will be hitting theaters and DVD in the near future? In the midst of all the glitz and glam of the Con, we cannot forget the comic book artists. The main reason why the real hardcore comic fans go to this is to meet, interact with, and perhaps even have a custom piece signed by their favorite artist. To me, that’s the biggest thrill. Most of my time at Comic Con is spent in Artist’s Alley drooling over their portfolio albums.

Mimobot by Julio E. Carrillo
“Mictlantecuhtli”
A cool looking limited edition 4GB drive created by Julio E. Carrillo
Thanks to the jovial Jessica Smiley from Mimobot – maker of designer USB flash drives. 
While I was tempted to grab a Batman or Star Wars drive, I opted to support original art!

While some of the costumed characters walking around the Con were employed by exhibitors, others are simply fans who seem like they just want to get some attention and their photos plastered all over the Internet. To the attendees who are just looking for attention, you’re really just clogging up the Con floor! And to the cosplayers who are loyal to the art of cosplay or just obsessed with a certain character – you are definitely worthy of making the local tri-state TV news broadcast. I commend their creativity and the time and effort they put into it!

Archie and Friends at the Riverdale Shore
Archie’s Jersey Shore parody 
The folks at the Archie Comics table saw me eyeing their last issue of this 
and gave it to me after they found out what The Sexy Armpit was all about!

Ultimate Comics NJ
I was stopped by a few guys at the Ultimate Comics Group table. They are an indy comic publisher out of Egg Harbor, NJ. I picked up a few of their books. Lots of comic book boobies.

DC Comics Digital Subscriptions

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I can only imagine what the Disney/Marvel juggernaut will be unleashing on us within the next few years as their alliance grows stronger. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my personal favorite, DC Comics. Why did it take blockbuster movies like The Dark Knight and Iron Man to make the two big comic book companies finally nut up and begin to truly exploit some of their other heroes? DC has a responsibility to it’s readers to provide them with the best adventures of our favorite characters in the various mediums available. The DCU animated movies are a step in the right direction, but first, innovation needs to be applied to the source material.

I was never a hardcore Green Lantern fan, but I can imagine how ridiculously pumped true GL fans will be in June of 2011 when the film hits theaters. Did it really take 23 years for a theatrical version of Watchmen to hit the silver screen? Shit, the rights to make a definitive Batman film were purchased from DC in 1979 and after enough scripts to fold up an entire origami model of Wayne Manor, the movie was finally produced and released 10 years later. Anticipation counts for something, but totally frustrating the shit out of your fans is a completely different story. I don’t mind waiting a couple of years for another Batman sequel, but if I have to wait 4 or 5 years I’ll be having flashbacks to the 8 year span of time that it took for WB and DC to grow enough cajones to release Batman Begins. They clearly wanted to be sure that the public had pretty much came to terms with 1997’s farce Batman and Robin. Finally, this brings me to my point, why the hell is DC Comics taking their sweet old time in rolling out a digital subscription plan?

Rather than living in the past and pandering to the old school of fans, DC desperately needs to commit itself to using the most cutting edge technology at all times. If there are so many readers out there who only want to buy print versions of their favorite comics, then why not produce both the hard copies as well as the digitally scanned issues? I’ve read some bullshit on the Internet that DC reps claim that they haven’t found the right method of presenting a comic book via the Internet. That’s funny considering you can find almost any popular comic available for download somewhere on the Internet. Collectors are nice enough to scan them in for archival purposes rather than alternatively finding an issue on eBay and paying a ridiculous $15 or $20 bucks for a comic with yellow pages.

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Based in New Jersey, Galusha’s Zuda Webcomic “The Meadowlands” is awesome,
but still not exactly a digital subscription of my favorite DC comic books

What better way to reintroduce lesser known characters and bring superheroes to the forefront than by revolutionizing the way we read comics books? Making the comic book relevant again should be of paramount importance to the newfangled DC Entertainment. For the past few years, DC’s Zuda imprint has been their only foray into webcomics. The only problem with it is that the comics Zuda features are all original works, none of our favorite characters from say…Justice League or The Outsiders. It’s also a competition which provides independent artists and writers the opportunity to showcase their material. Think of it as the American Idol of DC Comics.

A true comic book fan merely wants an escape. They want to experience stories of their favorite heroes while being immersed in spectacular comic art. Personally, I could care less if I have the actual issue in my hand or not. It’s even better if I don’t because I have enough crap in my bedroom and I don’t need even more stacks of comics. My large screen computer monitor is a perfect way to enjoy a comic book, and it would sure make storing and organizing your collection a breeze. Many of us have learned to let go of albums, definitely shitcanned VHS and cassette tapes, and we’re even forgetting about CD’s, so why can’t we forego comic books? The best way of making a superhero eternal is to immortalize them on the Internet, or in a more modern fashion, make them available through an easy one click purchase on iTunes. As far as I’m concerned the fact that Marvel does offer digital subscriptions is a huge win for them. If DC Entertainment wants to compete on the same level as Disney/Marvel, they need to get in the game.

Spider Man on Broadway: Just Turn It Off Already

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Almost 8 months ago I was super excited when I first read about Spider Man slinging his web over to star in his own show on Broadway. There are times when the word impulsive just can’t begin to describe how over excited I get upon hearing news like this. Momentarily I become a little kid again without even thinking of previous disasters like the 1966 musical, It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman. I wasn’t even on Krypton let alone Earth when some genius let that outrage make it to Broadway. How could Spider Man be as bad as that? We’ve come so far since then, haven’t we? With 3 blockbuster films, an animated series, comics, and toy web slingers, could there possibly be another way of running this Marvel property into the ground? Why yes, as a matter of fact, Spidey on Broadway! Looking back, I have no idea how I didn’t see this disaster of epic proportions looming on the New York City skyline.

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Why the f-ck did I even want to get tickets to this piece of trash anyway? First of all, no offense to the Marvel maniacs out there, but I’m a DC loyalist and have been since 1982. I still enjoy many Marvel characters and their films, but I have always enjoyed the DCU more. I would never EVER want to see any of the DC characters in a musical on Broadway, so hopefully if some marketing guru from DC Entertainment tosses that idea around…GET IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD IMMEDIATELY and then someone give that m-therfucker a swirlie.

So, yeah, I’m coming clean. I did something stupid. I bought tickets the moment they went on sale. Originally my excitement was high for no good reason other than sheer boredom and a lust for fanboy stimulation. There also seemed to be a bit of mystery involved since no details were available yet. Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark (dumb title) was set to premiere on January 16th, 2010. With no info available, I incessantly called Ticketmaster since the transaction wasn’t even appearing in my account history. There was no record of me even purchasing tickets to this crapshow. After several calls, I gave up. (I loathe Ticketmaster by the way.) A few months later, the Internet was buzzing with bad press about the budgetary issues, production problems, and set design perils that the Spider Man musical had run into. This almost sounded as bad as the time those mynocks latched onto the Falcon and started chowing down on those power cables.

The premiere date was pushed to the end of February. I hoped that the new date might give the producers enough time to get their shit together, but truthfully, I started to get fed up when I received an e-mail from terrible Ticketmaster. They wanted me to call them to EXCHANGE the tickets for the new date?!?!?! WTF? Shouldn’t they have just sent me tickets for the new date? I purchased the tickets and now I would risk losing the seats that I bought? That is pure bullshit, but like a shmuck, I called and exchanged the tickets like they asked. The employee who answered had no idea about anything I was referring to. She even snickered when I told her for the second time that I was calling about the Spider Man Musical. Clearly none of the Ticketmaster employees are made aware of postponements or cancellations. When she asked for an order number, I couldn’t even give her one because the transaction didn’t even exist and I was never given an order number, nor did it show up in my account. I was super pissed now. Finally, she figured it out, but the same seats I purchased were no longer available! They gave me seats at the end of the same row, which I settled for.

Today, more articles were published all over the Internet about Spider Man being postponed until Fall of 2010. Many of the news pieces reported that Ticketmaster would be offering refunds at this point. Earlier today I received an automated message on my phone from Ticketmaster stating that I was able to call them for a refund if I desired. If not, I would have to wait for a new sale date to exchange the tickets yet again. As soon as I got home, I called Ticketmaster and asked for a refund. Wouldn’t you know that the jackass who answered the phone had absolutely no clue about anything I was referring to. I told him that I received an automated call and that I was requesting a refund since the show would be postponed for a third time. I’d say it took a good 3 minutes of holding and listening to the same stupid music until he came back and asked more questions. By the end of the near 14 minute conversation full of needless back and forth, I got my refund. Now all I have to do is make sure it actually goes into my account or I’m suing Tickemaster for $200 bucks!

If you’ve been following the continuing debacle of the snowballing Spider Man Musical budget, you probably have a pretty good idea how I arrived at my decision. As of today, the budget is apparently in the realm of $50 million dollars and growing. Maybe I was sucked in by the thought of Edge working on the musical score for the show, or the idea that Mary Jane would be played by Evan Rachel Wood. Why don’t they just take those ideas, and before they shove them up their asses, put them to good use in either another feature film or an animated DVD movie? Considering that ticket sales for plays and musicals have been slumping for the past few years, the question here is…how many of you would be eager to go and shell out $100 bucks per ticket to see a Spider Man musical?

KWT: Ethan Van Sciver’s “Guardian of Freedom”

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This week Kip Winger Thursday kills two birds with one stone. Kip and NJ all in one.

In 2006, Kip Winger called upon comic book artist Ethan Van Sciver to create the cover art for Winger’s album, IV. The art was also released for sale in poster form.

In an interview on Comics Bulletin, Van Sciver reveals that he was born in Utah but grew up in South Jersey! He also admitted to having some unfavorable jobs in the art field before becoming the prominent comic book artist he is today. He told Comics Bulletin that he “…took a much envied job at the Cherry Hill Mall as a caricaturist. I had to wear a tuxedo, but I was ‘Goth’, so I also wore eye-makeup and a big clunky ankh around my neck, just under my bowtie.”

In addition to his own creation, the Cyberfrog comic book series, Van Sciver has worked on comics for DC and Marvel including Batman, Flash, Green Lantern and X-Men. Recently he’s done work on The Flash Rebirth and Blackest Night series for DC comics.