Good things come to those who wait, right? Obviously, that’s not guaranteed, but judging from what I’ve witnessed, it’s often proven true. Things I’ve only dreamed of as a kid have materialized. I’ve flexed with Hulk Hogan and I live in a world where there’s a Wonder Woman feature film. Life is good. In many respects, it keeps getting better. How’s that, you ask? Read on! Continue reading Battling For Metropolis…In My Backyard!
Remember that scene in Batman Returns when Batman and The Penguin both tell each other that “Things change?” It’s simple dialogue, but I always loved it because it applies to so many aspects of life. Yes, I quote Batman movies like they’re Shakespeare. To Bat or not to Bat, that’s never a question because he’s universally appropriate.
Recently I went to a comic show at Great Adventure. I had heard that the crew who produces the Garden State Comic Fest touted comics, artists, toys, cosplayers and more at their first ever theme park comic-fest. They already had me at roller coasters, but had me speeding down the Turnpike with “oh, and by the way, did we mention that we’ve got a comic show?” That’s quite enough deal sweetening, you don’t even have to twist my arm.
As I’ve mentioned here pretty often, Great Adventure is one of my most favorite and nostalgic places to be in the entire state. I’ve been a season pass holder since as long as I can remember and I simply enjoy the hell out of being there. Going for a mini comic con was a double-whammy.
After waiting on the long security line, I headed straight for the comic show. I didn’t want to sell it short, but hell, I wanted to get on some rides! The comic show took up only a few small tents near the Joker ride. I noticed John Wesley Shipp, TV’s Flash from the ‘90s, was signing autographs and taking pics with fans. Good for him enjoying his CW resurgence. That’s bucket list shit right there: Personal appearance at one of the world’s largest theme parks (conveniently located in Jackson Township next to Dracula’s Domain!)
Considering the comic cons I’ve been to, this was low-key in comparison. Although the Flash was there to amp it up, to casual theme park goers this was probably a really cool event to unexpectedly happen upon. I didn’t spend any money at the comic show although literally seconds after I left the tent, something caught my eye.
I made a purchase at the concession stand and shockingly, it wasn’t a Churro. There was a sign advertising this awesome Batman figural popcorn bucket. Yes folks, I bought a Batman popcorn bucket that I will most likely never put popcorn in, let alone anything else for that matter, but this is the kind of junk that I live for. It came with a separate bag of popcorn which I gave to my friend Bob to snack on as he was running his Glowmania table at the comic show. This is the kind of thing that’s exclusive to Six Flags so I plunked down my money.
Although the comic fest didn’t blow me away, this GA trip came at a good time. When real life stuff happens, it’s a perfect place to escape to. Most people wouldn’t consider this paradise. There’s no beach, but they do have Hurricane Harbor. There’s often long lines and massive amounts of people aimlessly wandering with no f’n clue where they’re going. But the coasters on the other hand, the roller coasters are therapy for me. I really mean that. Some people like to talk to a therapist, I prefer to work out any stress or worries by riding thrilling high speed loops and corkscrews. I don’t surf, but I do from a certain point of view, I sit in a coaster car and surf through the air. There’s something special about slicing through the air with your arms up and floating in your seat, not expending any energy whatsoever. Maybe it’s the lazy man’s surfing, I don’t know. One thing is for sure, it puts things in perspective.
All of life’s speed bumps and road blocks seem minuscule when you willfully strap yourself into the craziest rides in the entire state. You’re volunteering to be whipped around and thrown upside down in furious fashion. When the ride is over, the brakes are abruptly applied just as if you’re driving fast and you halt for a red light that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. In most cases, this is a cue to vomit your brains out, and some people do. In fact, as an example, just as I was about to hop into my seat on Nitro, the ride had to stop and be hosed down because someone lost their lunch. Talk about clearing their mind, they could start with a clean slate for the rest of the day. Personally, these rides don’t effect me like that, they actually bring me calmness. After putting my body and brain through over a minute of complete and utter chaos, the momentary serenity restores my balance.
Aside from the therapeutic power of thrill rides, I was also unwittingly jettisoned back in time. I wish I could say I hitched a ride on a DeLorean, but this was more of a memory trigger.
One of the grabbers for me at Great Adventure was always their licensing of DC Comics characters. For me, The Justice League/Super Friends were never a passing fancy. As a baby, I had DC characters in my crib. There were times throughout the years that I feared Six Flags would distance themselves from DC altogether. Thankfully, with the superhero craze, it’s quite the opposite nowadays. The Justice League characters and their respective rogues gallery appear all over the park. For instance, Batman, The Joker, Harley Quinn, Green Lantern, Bizarro, and Superman, all have their own rides. Some of the characters even show up in costume to take photos with park goers. Shit, even the Six Flags fast pass is referred to as The Flash Pass, yet another reason why this is one of my happy places.
Six Flags’ affiliation with Warner Brothers also boasts the liberal use of the Looney Tunes characters as well. This isn’t marketing 101, but stick with me, I’m actually leading up to something here.
I’ve long felt that the shops at Great Adventure are the closest thing we’ll ever get to a modern day Warner Brothers Store. The WB Store in the mall was always on my short list of places to stop at when I was a mallrat. And yes, well before it was a movie, I was an actual mallrat. My friend E and I used to basically live at the mall every weekend for a few years in high school before I started working at the local movie theater.
I don’t regret any of those wasted days at the mall. We’d get there at noon on Saturday and leave at 5. We’d sit on the benches by the fountains and trade Marvel cards that we bought. Afterward, we’d set up shop in the back of Burger King and inevitably always ran into a handful of people we knew. E would get free food because the girl that worked there had a thing for him, even though he was hung up on someone else. After Whoppers and Dr. Pepper mixed with 7 other sodas, we would literally sit there and bullshit for an hour. Miraculously, we didn’t have cell phones to pick up and look at every 2 seconds either.
After leaving Suncoast or The Game Room, we’d simultaneously launch into the geekiest disagreements and the deepest conversations about Star Wars at a time when it was super uncool. It was the dark times – way before the prequels. We were completely focused on debating details of Yoda’s origins and what brand of salsa pairs most perfectly with A New Hope for our Intergalactic Nacho extravaganza later.
I could literally write 6 pages solely about all the nothing that we did during those days. My Dad and Uncle used to tell me the craziest stories about the over the top hijinks they would get themselves into as teenagers. In comparison, me buying the ultra cool, brand new Wizard magazine and a cherry ICEE was about as extreme as things got during that period of time. We once spent 2 hours in the aisles of B. Dalton while E read Jack Kerouac and I read an Elvira young adult novel. Calling back to Batman Returns, do things really change all that much? Maybe just the backdrop. For a fleeting moment, I was in a store that reminded me of those times in the mall, and the memories rushed back into my mind.
We’d stay up late in the summer, walk around the neighborhood with our friends, make multiple stops at 7-11 for snacks, play SNES, Nightmare or HeroQuest, watch horror movies and then fall asleep at whosever house we were at. It was unbeatable. As an adult, I can live pretty much that exact same life, but it winds up paling in comparison because it’s missing some key elements. Sorta like when Gary and Wyatt forgot to hook up the doll in Weird Science.
In this scenario, one of the key elements missing is the actual mall. The mall I described earlier that was basically our headquarters for a long time has changed, and not for the better. Amongst stores like Heroes World, Suncoast Motion Picture Company, The Game Room, Sam Goody, and B. Dalton, was the Warner Brothers Store. The WB Store was a mainstay for us. There was NEVER a time we didn’t stop in to lust after their DC Comics knick-knacks on display. I still own a large cross-section of inventory from that store and I’m happy I do. So much of the merch they sold was exclusive to WB Stores. Thinking back, I always bought their large sized action figures that you couldn’t find anywhere else. Cut to present day, I still buy giant sized action figures of Batman called Big-Figs. Things do not change.
E and I would hover around in awe of their commemorative animation cels that we couldn’t afford, but pretended we could anyway. One time the older, professionally dressed salesperson got into a conversation with us about which pieces we were interested in and what our price range was. We had to slink away after swearing that we were just browsing before they roped us into a $350 dollar Road Runner animation cel.
The WB Store was also good for some exclusive t-shirts, plush toys, books, mugs, and statues…yeah statues! I type this sitting a foot away from a 24″ silver age Batman statue that I only dreamed of owning back when we thought it must have merely been a larger than life store decoration. It never seemed like it was actually for sale, and even if it was, it never sold because it was probably way too expensive. Years later, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I own it, an actual piece of the Warner Brothers store. Oh, and an enormous Gossamer statue too!
As I eased back into the present day, I was standing in a shop in Great Adventure. It wasn’t a shocking revelation to call it virtually the modern day version of the old WB Store. I’ve mentioned this here on the site before, but my last few visits here have been so nostalgic that I almost felt like they should just call it what it is: The WB Store at Six Flags Great Adventure.
When you first walk into the park, two or three stores are connected and basically make one huge mega store. This is very similar to how shops are linked together in Disney World. In this case, you walk through the Looney Tunes section and then the DC Comics section. I stop into these stores every time I go to the park, but this time I literally spent 45 minutes because there was so much new crap to look at. As I browsed around, much like the WB Store before it, it’s safe to say more than half of all the merch was exclusive to Six Flags and Great Adventure specifically.
In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that the Hall of Justice shop was the pinnacle of stores in the entire park, and for DC Comics fans, it truly IS. Unfortunately, there’s been a bit of a misstep. Things are changing. The shop has lost so much of it’s personality since they decided to change its name to the…Gotham City Gift Shop? Are you f*cking serious bro? WTF! The name change obviously capitalizes on its proximity in the park to Batman: the Ride and The Dark Knight Coaster, but with the build up to the Justice League movie looming, the Hall of Justice is the most appropriate name for the shop, no question. On top of that, the OG storefront was faintly designed in the spirit of the actual Hall of Justice in the comics. Six Flags can try to justify the change in various ways, but there’s no better time in the history of Great Adventure to have a shop inspired by the headquarters of DC’s iconic Superhero Team. Now dropping a Roman Reigns quote on you: “Believe that!”
Just as a brief downpour began, I hopped in my car and headed for the Turnpike. On the way home I stopped in at Wawa. I rarely get their fancy pre-made iced drinks, but not because they aren’t delicious, more because they are filled with so much sugar. I felt pretty good about things at that moment. As I flipped through the touch screen options, I came across an iced mint creme drink. I know mint isn’t a flavor that everyone digs, but it’s probably my favorite flavor of ice cream or iced beverages. I was pleased with my decision and I loved it. I inhaled it about 2 minutes after buying it. It was refreshing and a cool way to cap off the trip. Treat Yo’ self!
On a trip to Great Adventure I would’ve never expected to get a rush of fond memories about the Warner Brothers store and summer days in the mall. Did I use this post to reminisce? Sure I did, but it was all legit. The ironic part is that I don’t even want to step foot into a mall nowadays, so in that respect, things have absolutely changed.
Since so many malls have lost their luster over the years, If you’re even remotely in the vicinity of Great Adventure this summer, I recommend escaping there for some thrills. It’s a blast, a diversion, and a therapy session all in one. Plus, they have the closest thing we may ever get to another Warner Brothers Store, and that’s one hell of an endorsement if you ask me.
For a guy who rarely likes to leave his condo I’ve sure been getting out a lot lately. I had a cool weekend and I’m here to tell you about it. Now’s a good time for a bathroom break because there won’t be another one until the end of the post!
JC Oddities Market, Cathedral Hall, Jersey City
Saturday marked the return of the JC Oddities Market at Cathedral Hall in Jersey City. I missed the last Oddities Market, so I made it a point to get there for this one. Plus, I needed to to fill my lifetime quota of attending an oddity flea market in an old church. Not only did I need to fill that very specific void, but with a long family history in Jersey City, I always look for any reason to venture there. Adding to that, my friend Bob Burke (the Glow Art champion of the world!) mentioned to me that he’d have a table there again. And to further reinforce my trip, the church is getting demolished at some point in the near future, so I’m glad I decided to go.
This macabre market was unlike anything I’d ever been to before. The old church (Saint Bridget’s) was adorned with string lights and a random, oversized Delia Deetz-style snake sculpture in the middle of the floor up near the altar. I felt like I was on the set of a late ‘90s low budget horror sequel. (Definitely a part 4 or later.) The middle of the church floor was lined with vendor tables and artists selling everything from records and artwork to taxidermy and homemade jewelry. If only OMC sang a song called “How Bazaar,” now would be the most appropriate time to have that pop in your head. Even after being to so many cons and flea markets, most of these vendors were brand new to me. The basement featured even more tables, so I surpassed my usual 15 minute zip-through for one of these things.
I also ran into my friend Nicole and her girlfriend. You may recall Nicole, fellow Jerseyan and horror fanatic, who way back in 2014, let me post a piece of her writing here at The Sexy Armpit. It was so great to meet her after being friends with her online for so long. Nicole has since changed her social media handles so you can now follow her at @allthedamnvamps on Twitter and @allthedamnvampires on IG.
As for pickups, going into this thing I’d say that tea wouldn’t be a thing that I would come home with…AT ALL. Oddly enough, Brutaliteas was on site and proved me completely wrong. They were giving out samples and making tea cooler than it ever was, one tiny ass sample cup at a time. The creative offerings from Brutalitieas are truly game changing. This Jersey couple crafts their own homemade teas and infuses them with a horror or hard rock twist i.e Back in Blackberry, Apricot for Destruction? C’MON! Those are a must buy merely on the wordplay alone. I tried a sample at their table and it was delicious and the aromas are amazing. I was sold. I bought 3 packs. It was so hard to decide from a slew of amazing themes. I narrowed it down to Screamsicle, The Detoxic Avenger (obviously had to get that one), and A Nightpear on Elm Street. I haven’t brewed them yet, but I will very soon. I’ll likely throw in some ice cubes because I’m an iced tea freak.
The benevolent Brutaliteas donates part of the proceeds from sales of the Detoxic Avenger (Lloyd Kaufman approved) to canine cancer. Courtney and Adam are a seriously wonderful couple and it was great to meet them. You can tell that they love what they’re doing because it shines through in their teas. And those PUNS! You can read about their story at their website.
Barcade is for getting buzzed and playing old video games. That was what I did the previous times I’ve been there. Although, I never thought I’d intentionally waltz into a Barcade for a late lunch without taking in an arcade game, but that’s exactly what happened. This time, I plopped myself down on a stool at the bar and ordered my usual drink and a…wait for it…veggie burger?!?! What?
Possibly a little known secret, Barcade’s veggie burger is badass! Equally as shocking, I’m a bit of a connoisseur of veggie burgers. I order veggie burgers almost anytime I can’t get eggplant parm. Spots like Barcade that make their own patties from original recipes in-house are the best. To order a veggie burger from a place that uses frozen patties is crazy because those could be made at home. If you’re into Veggie Burgers, get one next time you’re at Barcade. YUM! Tell me you don’t start getting hungry after reading the menu entry directly from their website:
Veggie Burger Deluxe
6 oz. fresh patty of beets, brown rice, and black beans topped with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mayo & spicy ketchup on a bun.
In between all this I literally just wandered around Jersey City basically all day. I kept running into the best eye candy for my Jersey obsession. I snapped some photos for posterity.
8-Bit Mystery Pin, The Monkey’s Paw Store
Saturday was a good mail day thanks to the arrival of the pin pictured above. Scooby Doo meets Jason Voorhees has always been a mash up I’ve desperately wanted to see come to fruition. We’ve come very close a few times going back to an episode of Robot Chicken, and then some artwork from artist Travis Falligant, then there was also the Mystery of Crystal Lake enamel pin by The Monkey’s Paw where Shag and Scoob had a run-in with Jason. I snatched that one up as soon as it was released, but not too long after, they started teasing this 8-bit styled sequel to their original pin. What makes these pins so incredible is that they both had a run of only 50 worldwide. It’s a total collector’s item for a guy like me who loves both Scooby-Doo and Friday the 13th.
On Sunday, we went to iPlay for an event that wound up getting cancelled. We had a couple of consolation drinks then walked through the arcade area where I found this beautiful DC Comics game. All the major characters were featured on the game. I was stoked to see their Bronze age versions represented so I had to share it here. I didn’t actually play the game, just stood there drooling over it and took a thousand photos of every panel as blatantly illustrated in the collage above. Now that I got that out of my system, maybe I’ll actually play it next time.
With 2 WWE events this weekend, (NXT Takeover and Backlash) I spent a lot of time on the WWE Network. I wound up unexpectedly re-binging CAMP WWE. To call it a binge is a bit of a stretch since the season only lasted 5 episodes. I’m sure watching them all again sounds pretty wild to even the most die-hard WWE fans, since almost everyone I’ve talked to about the show haven’t seemed too excited about it. The first time I watched it was about a day or so after the WWE premiered it on the network and I found it amusing, but wasn’t crazy for it. After a second helping, I’m finding myself loving it.
When you think about it, there hasn’t been a WWE animated show since Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, which I loved as a kid (around 75 years ago.) Merely for that reason alone, it automatically gains major cool points in my book. Think about it for a second, a modern day WWE animated series is pretty monumental. Wrestling AND cartoons combined? Drink it in maaaan! Let’s not take it for granted.
There’s also the fact that it’s funny thanks to a ton of in-jokes for wrestling fans. It’s written and produced by lifelong wrestling fans and that translates to a show that doesn’t dumb anything down. I found myself having a blast with it way more this time. The summer camp backdrop is like built-in nostalgia and Mr. McMahon hamming it up is incredible. Some of the other highlights of the show feature The Undertaker becoming one with nature, A 7-year old Stone Cold Steve Austin getting tanked on beers at a bar, an amusing appearance by Goldust as Mr. McMahon’s personal assistant, the actual Lex Express bus blowing up, and a truly hysterical take on Bray Wyatt. Check it out if you haven’t yet!
Ice Cream at Jersey Freeze
Before we headed home to catch WWE Backlash, I abruptly screeched the car off Route 33 and into the Jersey Freeze parking lot for some ice cream. The last time I was here was at least 15 years ago, so it was about time to rectify that. I got a cone with peanut butter pie ice cream. It was so delicious. I’ve never had this flavor before so I asked the girl behind the counter what was in it. She had no idea so she asked one of her coworkers. Once she mentioned peanut butter ice cream, bits of pie crust, and peanut butter cups I was putty in her hands. If you’re in the area this summer, make a pit stop there! (or an ARMPIT STOP! <rimshot>)
Thanks for reading about my latest excursion! Hope to see you back here soon!
The DC heroes are about to blow up the big screen. Fans of the DCU are in their glory right now. Even though there’s been so many movies based on DC properties, the DC film universe will be ushered in with the premiere of Batman v. Superman. I was out on the black carpet event with Miss Sexy Armpit for the premiere of the film at Radio City Music Hall, and it’s making me count the minutes until I’m in the theater for this. Growing up, World’s Finest comics were always at the top of my list, so I’m extremely excited to see my two favorite heroes on the big screen, and even more pumped to finally see Wonder Woman joining the fray. In light of this major DC Comics event, let’s recall one of the biggest DC Comics movie events of all time, Batman ’89!
Can you imagine living in a world where there wasn’t super hero movies in theaters every 2 months? That’s how things were back in the day. If you were around then, you know what I mean. Super heroes wound up becoming almost taboo to be a fan of. For me, things were doubly worse since I was both a fan of comics AND wrestling…and KISS for that matter. All the cards were stacked against me, but I wore my obsessions proudly, and I’m glad I did, because there was a payoff – a major one. In June of 1989, one of the biggest pop culture phenomenons was released to theaters: Batman.
In modern times, we’ve been spoiled by 8 Batman movies (9 if we count BvS!). The first Batman film in 1966 was an answer to that era’s Batmania hysteria caused by the TV show. In 1989, comic fans and moviegoers came out in full force to show that they were ready to get caught up in their generations Batmania. I was so lucky to be deeply entrenched in Batman my entire childhood, so to experience this kind of fervor for my favorite hero was astounding.
If there was a popularity contest between Bats and Supes, let’s just say, Supermania wasn’t really bandied around too often. That’s not a knock on Superman, but there was something mysterious about the 1989 Batman that made it so easy to fall in love with the film. One of the reasons for this is likely the fact that it was such a dark departure from the over the top, campy colorful fun of the ’60s TV series. If you weren’t reading Batman comics at the time, this was a brand new Batman that brought viewers into new territory. If you watch the film now, it seems pretty light, but in ’89 this was a dark, Noir inspired adventure which was unforgettable to so many who saw it in it’s theatrical run.
If you are a fan of this film, I recommend that you document your love for it. As it is with other forms of entertainment like music and books, the impact that the ’89 Batman movie had on the public may be documented for future generations in news articles, but it’s difficult to capture what kind of a massive Bat-frenzy it actually was. If you walked into a mall in 1989, to say that would’ve noticed over a hundred Bat symbols EVERYWHERE is not an exaggeration. Whether you went into a toy store, music store, or grocery store, Batman was literally everywhere. Two opposing boxes of cereal promoting Batman v. Superman cannot compare to how we were all lovingly swaddled in Batman’s cape with all kinds of goodies. You didn’t even have to be a hardcore Bat-fan to own a t-shirt or magazine that promoted the film.
What amuses me about all these superhero movies that come out, Marvel’s included, is that even though they make bank, we get flooded with them. All they have to be is “good.” Consider this: Will Batman vs. Superman make the same kind of impact that Batman ’89 did? Most likely no. It could wind up becoming the most well-reviewed DC inspired film ever, but I will wager that most Batman films since then did not have the potential to romance fans the way the ’89 film did. This is because on-screen Batman was in a unique spot to reinvent himself and turn the genre into serious business. Looking at this trajectory, you would not have any of the Nolanverse films without Batman 1989. Credit also has to go to Superman ’78 for being the genesis of the modern superhero film, but Batman ’89 had Kim Basinger!
I can write volumes about this movie because of how much I love it, but why not listen to our latest Purple Stuff Podcast where Matt and I talk all about it? In Episode 23, we detail many of our ’89 Batman memories. Matt and I share stories of seeing the film in the theater, the toy line, dressing up, reciting lines, the Prince soundtrack, theme parks and much more. This is our testimonial to what an indelible mark Batman 1989 left on us. If the Joker wrote this post, he may have ended it something like this: “…If you gotta go…go with a Smile!”
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Some people I know are often curious to see how I spend my money. Or should I say blow my money. Some people prefer to hoard their money, but my approach is that you can’t take it with you, so enjoy it while you are here. Many people live by that type of credo, but some indulge in a more extreme fashion than others. A woman can go out and buy a purse for $400 bucks and have no problem justifying that purchase, so I feel that an action figure, a box of cereal, and some snack cakes are more than worth it.
Batros Figure – Masters of the Universe Classics
In the MOTU Classics line, every figure and vehicle is referred to as “museum quality,” which I can’t argue with. The price point is about double or triple the cost of an action figure on a rack in Toys R Us. That sounds crazy, but believe me, I don’t buy every figure that comes out. The money I have spent on figures from this collection has been well worth every penny.
The time and careful attention to detail put into these figures is incredible. The badass looking Batros, stealer of information and books, looks like he just walked out of a TV showing his ONE episode appearance in “The Great Books of Mystery.” He’s part of Matty Collector’s Filmation line, which is inspired solely by characters from the original cartoon series as opposed to the mini-comics, or 2002 animated series.
So far, the Monster Cereals have been all the rage this season, and rightfully so, but I’m afraid Halloween Crunch is being overshadowed. Since it’s introduction in 2007, I haven’t had the easiest time finding Halloween Crunch locally. The last couple of years I’ve found it at Wal-Mart, but before that I felt like it was some kind of treasure that only appeared at certain stores around the country. Several of the gimmick Cap’n Crunch variations have been very elusive, but Halloween Crunch is easily my favorite. I’d even walk the plank and say that Halloween Crunch is my favorite of all the seasonal gimmick cereals presently offered throughout the year. It turns my f’n milk GREEN, what more is there to say?!!
Justice League Fruit Snacks
The Justice League fruit snacks box art is incredible and there was no way I could pass these up, especially with that giant notification at the top of the box that these are um…NEW! It’s exciting to see all the DC heroes getting some attention finally. As always, Batman looks like he’s about to kick somebody’s ass for taking a picture of his box.
If only these existed when I was in elementary school! Fruit snacks were as big a part of lunch time in school as the type of chips you brought. There was a certain measure of respect and jealousy if someone brought a type of snack that you hadn’t eaten before or one that was harder to find. I always considered myself lucky if I had PB&J, a Ssips juice box, a bag of Doritos (or Bravos which sound second rate, but are also very good), and a dessert such as anything Little Debbie (which we’ll get to in a minute) or a “pouch” of fruit snacks.
Early on here at The Sexy Armpit I wrote about my affinity for 3 types of fruit snacks in the 80s, there was Sunkist Fruit Wrinkles, Shark Bites, and Thunder Jets. Most of the fruit snacks are similar today, containing one or two offbeat colors like black or pastel blue. Below you can see that Superman is pastel blue which pretty much excludes him from portraying a fruit flavor. Something tells me that touting “real fruit juice,” doesn’t pertain to the pastel blue variety of fruit snacks.
The fun part about fruit snacks like Shark Bites and Thunder Jets was the chase. The commercial would get you all geared up to rip open your pouch to see if you got one of the specially colored and flavored snacks. The Great White and The Stealth Bomber respectively were the chase variants as it were. I don’t think there’s a mystery fruit snack in these, but you can compare the box colors to the ones I got and easily notice that the black Batman is supposed to be purple. The flavor was grape-like, but I’m not sure if it’s officially grape or blackberry. Either way, these brought me right back to the lunch table in school!
Green Margarita Mix in a Glass Skull, Target Exclusive “Ghoulish Potion”
Target just sucks you in, doesn’t it? Every damn time I’m in Target I wind up spending an exorbitant amount of money. In this case though, I am able to balance out my ridiculous purchases, like this glass skull filled with margarita mix, with other more justifiable purchases such as actual food, albeit occasionally healthy food, as well as necessities such as toilet paper, toothpaste, and laundry detergent. Let’s see how this shit turns out. I’m sure it’s going to taste like every other margarita mix, but one never knows. It may taste like Mountain Dew, we shall see momentarily.
The bottle clearly puts it over the top. I wouldn’t have bought margarita mix if it was in a witch, ghost, or werewolf shaped glass bottle, but skulls always do the trick for me. Since I probably couldn’t drink a whole bottle of vodka in less than a year or two, I’d probably never buy Dan Akroyd’s Crystal Skull vodka. Tequila and margaritas on the other hand will disappear rapidly at my place.
Verdict: not so good. After the mix was mixed it tasted more bitter than sweet and I prefer it to skew a bit on the sweeter side. After having margaritas at Jose Tejas in Woodbridge, most other margaritas don’t taste as good. Fortunately, after the mix is done, we are left with a cool bottle. I’ll probably dump the mix and put some Berry Blue Kool-Aid in it.
Tales From The Crypt Season 2
It’s easy to regret impulse buys, but Tales From The Crypt Season 2 seemed like a great deal. I picked it up for $9.99. Before I committed to it by dropping it in my cart at Wal-Mart, I checked Amazon and a few other sites on my phone to make sure it was a good price. If I could get it on Amazon for $5.99, I would’ve dropped it right back in my cart. At the time, Amazon listed it for well over $20 dollars so I bought it. I wasn’t actively seeking the Tales From The Crypt series, but Halloween is coming up and I figured even if I watch a couple of episodes it was worth the purchase.
At any given time there would be Peanut Butter Boppers and various trendy snacks of the day, Drakes Funny Bones and Coffee Cakes, some really old Pixy Stix banished to the bottom rear, and then dominating the cavernous drawer were the Little Debbie products such as Swiss Rolls, Nutty Bars, Peanut Butter Bars, Oatmeal Cream Pies, Fudge Brownies, and Strawberry Shortcake Rolls. Reading this laundry list of snacks it sounds like we were the fattest fucks ever to walk the planet in the ’80s, but really my sister and I practiced self control. Most of the time we’d be limited to one of these snacks after school and we adhered to it.
If you thought Ben Affleck playing Batman was weird, wait ’til you get a load of this. I think the Verona, NJ-born comedian Jay Mohr should play The Riddler. Yeah, not shitting you. If you can see beyond his dead-on-balls accurate Christopher Walken impressions, continue reading to see where I’m going with this.
Obviously there’s almost zero chance of seeing The Riddler appear in 2015’s Man of Steel 2, but down the road I think this would be such an unexpected casting win.
After looking at his film and TV career, you’d be surprised at how many different projects Mohr has taken on. He’s proven his comedic and dramatic acting chops, but more importantly, this is the type of role I could see him really getting into. As The Riddler, I see Mohr being able to infuse a multifaceted approach to the villain. Previously in the Bat-films, we haven’t really seen The Riddler get sadistic, or even sympathetic, and these are traits that Mohr would be able to deliver intensely on the big screen. Think about it, Jim Carrey was totally over the top and glammed out as The Riddler in Batman Forever, while The Riddler we saw in Batman: the Animated Series lacked any element of Carrey’s bombastic take on the character. We’ve yet to see a live action version of the Riddler depicted in the video game Arkham City, nor have we seen a live action take on The Riddler from 2004’s animated series, The Batman voiced by Robert Englund.
The Riddler in Arkham City can be obnoxious and narcissistic, two idiosyncrasies that Mohr is a bit of an expert at. In the TV series Ghost Whisperer, his character Professor Rick Payne has been described as annoying, abrasive, rude, yet still quite amusing. Mohr is also known for playing heelish characters in movies such as like Jerry McGuire, and Suicide Kings.
As an actor Mohr’s got a quirky sensibility, but he gives the impression that beyond his smart ass exterior, he’s somewhat dark and twisted. Alot of my reasoning for this left field casting choice comes from the element of his personality revealed in the 2000 slasher, Cherry Falls. Starring Garden State Playmate and one of my all time biggest crushes Brittany Murphy, Falls was marketed as another in a long line of Scream knockoffs, but when looking back on it, it actually was pretty original ahead of it’s time in some respects. The film dealt with gender themes as well as tinkering with horror tropes such as the intent to murder virgins rather than the typical promiscuous teenagers.
Cherry Falls gets a bad rap and I personally don’t know many fans of this film, but I dig it. Underrated isn’t quite the best description for the film, because I think if more people knew of it and saw it it would easily be more widely regarded as one of the better horror films to come out of the early 2000s – a time when tons of shitty horror movies were getting released. It’s not necessarily a “scary” film, but definitely kind of effed up. It was never released in theaters and had a bunch of issues with the MPAA. Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-. Dread Central said “…it remains an enjoyable example of post-Scream carnage – save for a terrible performance by Jay Mohr…”
If you could imagine The Riddler a bit more sick and twisted, either like the Arkham Riddler pictured above or even more like the Marilyn Manson-esque version in the 2004 animated series The Batman, Jay Mohr is the man for the job. Sure there will be an insane Batfleck style backlash on Twitter in the extremely minuscule chance it happens, but if we’re being told to believe in the proprietor of Fashionable Male as Batman, then is this such a stretch? What do you think?
*IMDB says that Mohr is a New York Jets fan, so he already has an affinity for green, which means we’re halfway there.
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.
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.
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.
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.