Son of Big Box of Comics: Turtles, Surfers, and Science-Fiction Mayhem

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The big box of comics series is a tribute to the fun things I wouldn’t have in my life without the readers of this blog who help me earn store credit at MyComicShop.com or Amazon.com every time they use my handy “Collector’s Guides” links to make a purchase.

It’s a symbiotic relationship — much like when an alien symbiote bonds to your nervous system and drinks your adrenaline for survival.

Actually, it’s nothing like that, but you could read that story in the Spectacular Spider-man TPB #1 by Paul Jenkins and Humberto Ramos.

This month, thanks to readers’ generosity, I put together a run of inexpensive reprints of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2–5, courtesy of IDW’s “Color Classics” versions of early TMNT. A few months ago, readers helped me reunite with the ridiculous majesty of TMNT #6, and I couldn’t go on without reading the preceding issues at least one more time!

Was it fun? Oh, hell yes. But maybe not as great as I remember from my black and white collections or the original colorized graphic novels from First. IDW’s coloring is part of that, since they put dark colors over the original Zip-a-Tone midtones, and obscuring the mid-range tends to flatten the artwork and make it less dynamic. Also, one of the pages in one issue seems to be a misprint that duplicates a page from earlier in the story.

But in terms of being an affordable way to read the Turtles’ earliest adventures, these reprints did the job admirably. Because #6 is one of my all-time favorite comics, I enjoyed reliving the outrageous plot that led up to it, and seeing how the storytelling evolved and improved in the early days. As a bonus, I got a few issues from the second volume of Color Classics, including a solo Michelangelo adventure in a kind of Lone Wolf & Cub fantasy of feudal Japan mixed with mystic lizard demons from hell. That issue includes one of my favorite Turtles pages:

Also from the second volume, a color version of an issue of the Return to New York story that’s a favorite of mine.

Along with the batch of ninja nostalgia, I picked up some bargain-priced Fine copies of Paul Chadwick’s The World Below. It’s no secret I love Chadwick’s Concrete series. World Below and its sequel, the four-issue Deeper and Stranger, don’t have the same depth of storytelling and lush rendering as Concrete, but they are a fun romp through Chadwick’s science-fiction imagination.

I like the sequel better than the first series. The sequel uses black and white art with no color, which is almost always how I prefer to see Chadwick’s art. And, the first series suffered from too many flashbacks trying to make me care about characters I never properly met, since the story started right in the middle of the action. Each time a character faced a crisis I wasn’t invested in, the character flashed back to a similar situation in their early life to beat me over the head with how huge an emotional deal it all was. That didn’t work for me.

Also, I could have lived without seeing the characters say, “eff this” and “eff you, you effing effer” instead of using the actual profanity. Those pages in World Below #3 were physically painful to read, and even old-school characters like F@%$ would have been preferable.

It seems to me that if your dialogue depends on using the word “fuck”, then you should probably just say “fuck”.

The narrative problems (mostly) smooth out in the sequel, which has my favorite issue of the series and an unexpected ending that blew my mind. Deeper and Stranger fulfills the promise of the first World Below and the tagline on those covers: the deeper you go, the stranger it gets!

Finally, this month’s box of comics included a favorite from my Avengers collection that I sold off a few years ago. Recently, someone commented on my old post about the Stern/Buscema/Palmer run on Avengers in the 1980s. It reminded me that while I basically memorized those issues after reading them so many times, Avengers #266 featuring the Silver Surfer really needed to come back to my modest “Avengers favorites” collection.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: the issue is a post-script to one of the most god-awful, tragic dumpster fires Marvel produced in the 1980s: Secret Wars II. Don’t even get me started.

But this issue focuses on two powerful beings—one a respected hero, and one a reviled villain—who need to work together to heal a cataclysmic wound in the Earth before the planet falls apart and kills everyone. All in 32 ad-free pages, in which the fate of the world might depend on one total nerd’s desire to watch sitcom re-runs with his girlfriend instead of letting the disaster take its fatal course. It’s so insane!

This issue has many examples of Stern’s dialogue that endeared me to his Avengers. Namor and Hercules bust each other’s balls like only gods can do, but below their arguing I sense a mutual respect born of the knowledge that they are both beings of power, and maybe they need each other to call each other out sometimes to help keep their rages in check.

She-Hulk isn’t turned off at all by Hercules’ temper tantrums; she flatters him and straight-up asks him to dinner, which is almost as awesome as that time she hooked up with Juggernaut. Jennifer’s a being of great power, too, and she seems perfectly comfortable and relaxed about it.

Hercules’ thoughts on nobility and heroism after the villain supposedly “loses his powers” while saving the Earth — also a lovely piece of internal dialogue.

But my favorite part is the final scene where the villain reveals he never lost his powers at all, and that the hero was complicit in this deception.

But why?

The Silver Surfer’s comment on courage and vulnerability really sums up what I love about this Avengers run. Sure, it’s all fun and games in spandex with lots of punching and the fate of the universe at stake, and there’s no shortage of expositional thought balloons. But every now and then, Stern’s humanistic and thoughtful depictions of his characters meld with John Buscema’s and Tom Palmer’s artwork to create high points of visual literature.

You know what? I might need to reclaim a few more of my favorite story arcs from this run — especially the Kang saga and the assault on Avengers Mansion.

That’s it for September’s big box of free comics, and I am excited to tell you about the October box that is on its way!

cover songs from the archives

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These two tracks are from a pair of live performances in 2002 in Depot Town, a small commercial/arts area in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I’d love to release them on an album, but I don’t want to mess with obtaining commercial rights to sell my versions of the original songs. So, here they are, free of charge.

The first is a cover of I Had a Chance by Morphine. I kept the lyric but re-tooled the music. Click to listen or download the MP3.

The second is a medley of two songs: Cactus by the Pixies, and The Letter by Joe Cocker. I took some liberties with the key and the chords. Click to listen or download the MP3.

Though I’ve never been a talented singer, I had a lot of fun in 2002 as a ‘solo act’ with my old Epiphone acoustic guitar, playing and singing in galleries, record stores, and other low-key venues. I still have her, though she’s worn from years of use and abuse, and the top is cracked from banging on it like a drum during an overly enthusiastic performance of Had My Chance. A couple years ago, I took her apart, painted her black, and reassembled her, and now she sounds about as good as she ever did.

The two concerts took place at Dreamland Theater and a record store across the street, whose name I can’t recall. They were recorded by Craig Baker, who passed away a year or two later. He was a regular on the same open mic circuit I frequented, and we had many great conversations about life, art, and music. I’m grateful that he volunteered for the job, because I’d have no record of these shows if not for his generosity.

indie box: Tales of the Cherokee

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Today’s pick from the box of indie and small-press comics is Tales of the Cherokee. Let’s have a look at Gene Gonzales’ illustrated version of the Cherokee creation myth in “How the World Was Made.” Dig that splash page featuring the worlds above and below!

Below is another tale, a Cherokee love story Gene calls “The Origin of Strawberries.”

Collector’s Guide:
– From Tales of the Cherokee #1, Mandalay Books 2001.

To see current works by Gene Gonzales, visit
http://www.genegonzales.com and http://www.genegonzales.blogspot.com

indie box: Saurians

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This week’s pick from the short-box of indie and small-press comics deals once again with Unnatural Selection, much like the Elephantmen issues we looked at by Casey & Ladronn. But this pick comes from CrossGen comics and deals with evolutionary developments in the course of a war between humans and reptilians.

From the reptiles’ perspective, they’re the good guys. One of them discovers that by eating the humans, the reptiles get smarter and more adaptable like humans. This change allows them to kick our butts in intergalactic warfare. But the politics and religion of the Saurians make things more complex, as does interpersonal rivalry that can only be solved through sword fights and ass kicking!

Hell, yes! It’s like Mark Waid wrote this one just for me, and the artwork is so much fun though this whole story, from the creative panel layouts to the glorious colors.

Saurians: Unnatural Selection is a two-issue limited series telling the tale of the reptile that first made the discovery that eating people is the smart thing to do for an evil space dinosaur, and even if you never followed CrossGen’s main titles, this is a damn good story!

Collector’s Guide:
– From Saurians Unnatural Selection #2; CrossGen Comics, 2002.

drive

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Drive is a song by The Cars, and I recorded this instrumental version in the living room at my old place, on a sunny afternoon with heavy traffic outside. The car noise seemed to fit the theme.

Listen or Download the MP3: https://app.box.com/s/gv0bl75qgvooosetgaolgnosxh5gjs9q

About ten years ago, this track appeared on a limited edition CD of maybe 100 copies, an album recorded with friends and sold at a CD release party. I haven’t made it available anywhere since.

indie box: This Is Sold-Out

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This is Sold-Out lampoons the comic book industry of the 1980s, and no one walks away without a few lumps. It’s too bad the creators never did a sequel satirizing the 1990s speculator craze. Long-time comic book fans will enjoy picking out the altered comic book titles on the racks and the ridiculous hyperbole about the medium we know and love.

My favorite moment might be when a rodent and a turtle use random words from the dictionary to come up with the title of the latest black-and-white indie sensation: The Catastrophic Obsequious Belgian Hibernation Retrieval. Someone must create that book!

This Is Sold Out has an outrageous second issue that concludes the story as the “Color Police” get together to eradicate all competition for the black-and-white madness. Absolute lunacy!

Collector’s Guide:
-From Sold Out; 1986, FantaCo.
Last we checked, FantaCo was defunct and this title is out of print.

 

 

 

indie box: Teknophage

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Inside the indie comics box today, it’s Teknophage: a walking, talking, totally evil dinosaur who rules a world much like ours, only infinitely more terrible. Teknophage feeds on souls, which he extracts from helpless humans in the horrifying vats of his mobile city. He cruises his planet spreading misery every where he goes. Many have tried to overthrow him, only to have their souls ripped from their tortured bodies and consumed.

Rick Veitch created this evil bastard reptile for Tekno Comix, a Neil Gaiman venture. With artist Bryan Talbot, Veitch blends horror, science fiction, and a cynically hilarious social satire to make Teknophage a story you will never forget – assuming you survive!

Here is a preview of the pages where Teknophage recounts his earliest days as just another evil telepathic dinosaur, and how he discovered the multi-dimensional technology that made him master of the planet.

Collector’s Guide:
– From Teknophage #4-5; Tekno Comix, 1995.

indie box: Salvador

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Today we open the indie short-box to find the first and only issue of a series that never happened: Salvador!

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The ultimate intent of the lavish, wordless art remains a mystery to me. I felt like I followed the central character’s journey, even though the world was unfamiliar to me, and I could draw some conclusions about what it was all about. But did this episode set up a longer storyline, or is this issue a self-contained story? What did the creators think was coming next?

The blurb in the back of the book, which you can see in the scans below, says Salvador was to be a five-issue series, and the main character was a “savior for DNA discards” in a world of genetic engineering gone awry. He can fly, but he was born brittle, so he is easily broken. I don’t know if that will help you make more sense of this unfinished work, but have a look at these gorgeous pages anyway.

Collector’s Guide:
Salvador #1; Boom Studios, 2007.

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indie box: Thrasher Comics

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The short-box of indie and small-press comics this week crawls right out of the gutter to bring you the underground skateboard glory of Thrasher!

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Thrasher Comics came from High Speed, the publishers of Thrasher Magazine, who also produced the art magazine Juxtapoz. You don’t need to be a skater to dig the artwork in Thrasher Comics, however. Here is a sample: L. E. Coleman’s “Skate Greats of History,” featuring Elvis Presley skating on a guitar, and Julius Caesar skating the Colossuem.

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Though it’s unsigned, Thrasher contributor Ken Jones informed us the cover was created by Kevin Ancell. The style brings to mind the work of Rick Griffin. Griffin did freelance work for Thrasher Magazine and even designed several Vans shoes, a brand loved by skaters everywhere.

Collector’s Guide:
– From Thrasher #2; 1988, High Speed.

indie box: Rare Bit Fiends

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What’s in the short-box of indie and small-press comics this week? It’s Rare Bit Fiends by Rick Veitch!

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Here to introduce the descent into the dreamworld is a strange and nameless beast who begins every issue of this unique series.

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In Rare Bit Fiends, Rick Veitch made his dreams into pages of comic book art. Don’t look for traditional stories in Rare Bit Fiends. You’ll only find the psychedelic language of dreams and the weird workings of the inner mind. Veitch’s artwork is in top form.

Below is a sample of an illustrated dream whose narrative comes from a special-guest dreamer Neil Gaiman and rendered by Roarin’ Rick in ultra-cosmic perfection!

Collector’s Guide:
– From Rare Bit Fiends.
– Collections include Crypto Zoo, Pocket Universe, and Rabid EyeKing Hell Press.

The title Rare Bit Fiends is a nod to the early 20th Century comic strip Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend by Winsor McCay, who created Little Nemo in Slumberland.

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rare bit fiends rick veitch119

indie box: Zero Killer

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What’s inside the short-box of indie comics this week? Dystopic, post-apocalyptic future? Check. Girls kissing in punk-rock gear? Check. Ass kickings? Check. Tattooed mutant brothers living in a vandalized World Trade Center with a massive stockpile of weed? Check.

How about a guy eating cockroaches? Dudes hacking off a dude’s limbs and feeding them to rats? One totally stacked mama running a vicious gang of leather-clad boy-toys who kill on command? Check, Check, Check!

What’s there NOT to like about Zero Killer?!? Arvid Nelson put together a monumental adventure story with complex characters in this six-issue series published by Dark Horse. Illustrator Matt Camp made the story come to life perfectly, including a rockin’ wraparound cover featuring dinosaur skulls! It’s like they made this one just for me.

Collector’s Guide:
– From Zero Killer; Dark Horse, 2007.
– Reprinted in the Zero Killer TPB.

indie box: Elephantmen

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What’s inside the short-box of independent and small-press comic books this week? It’s Elephantmen from Image Comics! Now, you might argue that Image Comics is too big to be considered “indie” or “small press” anymore, and maybe you’re right. But I remember when it was a start-up company with only a handful of titles, and one important thing remains the same: a focus on creator-owned projects.

Richard Starkings’ Elephantmen is one of several books that made me pay attention to Image Comics after having written them off years before as having better art than story, and too much focus on spandex-clad super-types. While that judgment might seem more accurate if you consider the quality I encountered in the earliest issues of WildC.A.T.s and StormWatch when Image began, even those titles became pretty awesome a few years later. So, Image can thank Richard Starkings for getting my damned attention, and I also thank Richard for the amazing tutorial he created that taught me how to letter comic books using Adobe Illustrator. See the Comicraft company website for awesome fonts, and that tutorial which is well worth the $10 if you want to learn how to letter digitally.

In the Unnatural Selection story–one of my favorites–Joe Casey and Ladronn created a gruesome future history for Richard Starking’s Elephantmen. A future where soldiers are bred from men and beasts, incubated in horrific labs, and indoctrinated as murderous slaves. Dig the following sample pages from Elephantmen: Unnatural Selection. We witness the birth of the starring character Hip Flask and the strange brand that gave him his name. Also, we encounter the brutal training and combat our hybrid heroes endured before they gained their freedom. One thing is for sure: mad scientists are jerks!

Collector’s Guide to Awesome Elephantmen Stories:
– From Elephantmen #0: Unnatural Selection; Image Comics.
Elephantmen TPB
Damaged Goods TPB
War Toys TPB
Unhuman: The Elephantmen Art of Ladronn.

more mixes added

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I added a few more music mixes to the archive page for my streaming sets. Simmer (Mix 56) is from last month featuring a blend of ska, reggae, vocal jazz, latin jazz, and rock. Rock1 and Rock2 (Mixes 5 and 6) are two hard-rocking sets from 2016 featuring punk, metal, psych, garage, doom, and more — with a few other things to spice them up. Enjoy!

indie box: Pounded

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What’s inside the short-box of indie comic books this week? The punk-rock mini-series that glorifies juvenile debauchery and ill-advised life choices as only Brian Wood and Steve Rolston could bring you: Pounded!

Did you ever have one of those mornings when only the F word will do? Heavy Parker has, too! In the third and final issue of Pounded, after getting his ass beat, Heavy makes it through four whole pages of a lousy morning with just one word to describe his feelings.

Pounded from Brian “DMZ” Wood and Steve Rolston is a quick read but a fun one. It’s much more guy-oriented than Wood’s work on New York Four and New York Five. I got the impression those were written for a young female audience who finds drama in texting and… texting… and more texting about texting… PLEASE KILL ME! But in Pounded, we get rock and roll, tough talk, sex and drugs in the bathrooms of concert venues, brutal fist fights in the street, and plenty of profanity! Man out with Heavy Parker today. Guaranteed to improve your fucking morning!

Collector’s Guide:
– From Pounded #3; Oni Press, 2002.
– Reprinted in the Pounded TPB (which is more often in stock.)

indie box: Nemesis

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What’s inside the short-box of indie comic books this week? Nemesis, published by the UK-based Eagle Comics, and originating in the pages of 2000AD. Thanks to my high-school buddy Brian and his older brother Michael, the insanity of British comic books was percolating into my awareness by the mid-1980s, and by the time creators such as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and Warren Ellis (to name just a few) were working on mainstream franchises at Marvel and DC (or their subsidiaries), I was primed for a ‘British Invasion’ of American comics that rivaled that of blues-based rock music in the 1960s.

For me, it began with Nemesis. When Brian saw this creative team sparked my interest, he also shared with me Marshall Law and Metalzoic. Since then, I’ve dug O’Neill’s art on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Mills’ work on Flesh, which I only discovered decades after its original publication.

The following self-contained short story about Nemesis begins in a dungeon where alien species are imprisoned, along with humans suspected of harboring or assisting aliens. Though they suffer, their spirits are lifted by memories of the revolutionary alien warrior, Nemesis!

Nemesis the Warlock! His name strikes fear into the hearts of humans everywhere. Humans living in a religious monarchy that persecutes and exterminates all aliens. Just look at this glorious propaganda poster for Torquemada, the arch-nemesis of Nemesis and totally disgusting scumbag.

That’s right. This evil freak is everywhere, spearheading an inquisition across the galaxy to torture and murder peace-loving aliens! It’s almost like living in the United States in 2019!

But take heart, species of the universe. Nemesis the Warlock has an even freakier face than Torquemada, and his sword is way more huge! So huge that it has its own origin story — a violent, grotesque space epic of suffering and sacrifice for all the wrong reasons. Suck it, humans!

Collector’s Guide:
– From Nemesis the Warlock; Eagle Comics, 1984. By Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill.

a new page for music mixes

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If you’ve enjoyed the virtual “mix tapes” I’ve been posting here since late last year, then visit the new page that collects them all for your listening pleasure:

https://marswillsendnomore.wordpress.com/pbn/

I once thought I would end this mix series after the fiftieth recorded set. But thanks to other DJs, I kept discovering new music. That’s the beauty of hanging out with other music maniacs. Plus, I now realize that several styles I love are grossly under-represented, from modern jazz to classical music of India. So you know what? The PBN will live on and explore more sonic territory.

Thank you for supporting the Puma Broadcasting Network, a division of the Feline Liberation Front. Long live the resistance.

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indie box: Alexis

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This week, the indie short-box holds the only issue of Alexis I’ve ever seen. This book is so small-press that it might as well be extinct — which is a shame for a book with bold and exciting black-and-white artwork, boobs, and tentacles.

Individual issues appear sometimes on eBay and Amazon, but with little agreement on the market value. I’ve never seen a listing for a full set of either Volume 1 or Volume 2, and certainly not both together. [This is no longer true! See my update in the Collector’s Guide below.] Each volume was five issues long. Below are my scans of issue #5 of the second volume. It seems like a grand climax to a fun story with awesome art that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I’d love to see the other nine issues.

Art & Story by Adam Kelly. Published March, 1996 by Kim Thompson and Gary Groth of Eros Comix, a defunct imprint of Fantagraphics. The inside cover contains this text: “RETAILERS ARE INSTRUCTED NOT TO SELL THIS PUBLICATION TO MINORS.” Compared to some of the publisher’s outright porn comics advertised in the back of this issue, Alexis #5 seems pretty mild.

Collector’s Guide: I have no idea where to find this series. Do you? Leave a comment and enlighten me. UPDATE: I found a store that currently has all issues of Volume 2, and a package deal containing all ten issues of Volumes 1 and 2. Prices are about $10 per issue. See the listings at AbeBooks.com.

dinosaurs of the tellus science museum

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This month, my mom and sister took me to the Tellus Science Museum in Georgia, and I was spoiled with an afternoon of prehistoric life and outer space! The museum lobby showcases a huge apatosaurus skeleton, and my sister snapped a photo for me to share with all the dino geeks who frequent this blog.

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The camera on my phone isn’t as nice as hers, but I snapped a few pics, too. Here is the apatosaur’s head in a position where he might be eating a planet.

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The planets in the pic appear over the entrance to the planetarium where we enjoyed a presentation about how Earth was formed. This was fortuitous timing, because the film showed something I was reading about that very day: how an ancient proto-planet named Theia crashed into an early version of Earth, a cataclysmic collision that enlarged Earth and resulted in the formation of our Moon, our tilted axis of rotation, and eventually our ocean tides.

The film presented this event as a known fact, but it’s a hypothesis that best explains how things got the way they are now. The Theia hypothesis is explored in more detail in the book I took on my trip, an amazing and often poetic exploration of geology, chemistry, and cosmic history that begins with examining a single pebble found on a Welsh beach.

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The Planet in a Pebble: A Journey into Earth’s Deep History by Jan Zalasiewicz is a bit wordy at times, being written by a lecturing professor. What it lacks in concision, it makes up for in its flowing language that links many scientific disciplines to each other and gives insights into how big-picture events like the origin of Earth relate to small-picture events at the atomic level, all to create the rocks we sometimes ignore beneath our feet but which, upon examination, reveal so much about our world.

The prehistoric exhibit at Tellus Science Museum showcases specimens found in Georgia, and it features some fossils visitors are invited to touch (including Megalodon teeth and Triceratops poop). The Appalachiosaurus pictured below was new to me.

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This fearsome beast shares exhibit space with a pair of Dromeosaurs whose informational plaque needs a bit of an update. The plaque mentions feathers and the relation of dinos to modern birds as a kind of hypothesis, but these things are now known with about as much certainty as we can get. After all, we’ve found the feathers, and paleo-artist William Stout was among the first to depict them in his mural paintings for the San Diego Natural History Museum. You can read more about that in Prehistoric Life Murals by William Stout, which includes amazing reproductions of his paintings in a glorious hardcover volume.

Tellus also has aquatic beasts, including a Mosasaur and a sea turtle, the two main characters in one of my favorite stories, Archelon and the Sea Dragon by Francis K. Pavel. You might enjoy the short essay I wrote about the book for an undergraduate project a few years ago.

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For flying reptiles, Tellus has a trio of Pterosaurs. Here’s one of them.

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Tellus has prehistoric mammals, too, including this Smilodon.

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These are just a few of the wonders in the prehistoric life exhibit. And I didn’t even photograph any of the awesome space exploration stuff. Tellus Science Museum has a bunch of other exhibits, too. I didn’t see them all, but I loved what I saw. If you go, you might call ahead to find out the showtimes in the planetarium, because several shows play at different times throughout the day. The Birth of Planet Earth is well worth seeing, and I’d have liked to see the other features if we had more time.

On your way out, you can visit the gift shop and get a cuddly ammonite and a few of his stuffed trilobite friends!

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If you can’t make it to Georgia any time soon, Amazon also carries critters from this plush toy line called Paleozoic Pals.

more free comics

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Just when I’d wrapped up a series of posts about the big box of free comics I got thanks to readers who used my affiliate links to find books at MyComicShop.com, another note from the retailer arrived to say I’d earned an additional $80 in store credit. That same week, I’d found a good deal on eBay to replace one of my favorite (and previously sold) action/crime series, DC/Vertigo’s The Losers, so I was left with very few holes in my collection. The Dark Horse Conan stories I’d like to read again were either too pricey or currently out of stock, so I dug around in my short boxes until it hit me: I still don’t have the complete original Miracleman series!

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Over the years, I’d tracked down affordable copies in respectable condition of issues #1–20, and this quest was aided near the end by Marvel’s reprints of the original series. As Marvel made new, high-quality reprints available, the ridiculous prices for the original books decreased. Issue #15, one of the last gems to enter my collection, used to run from $150 up to several hundred bucks, for example. Now I have a copy in wonderful, though not perfect, condition, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

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I didn’t worry too much about collecting issues #21–24 because Marvel reprinted #21 and 22 in their repackaging of Neil Gaiman’s Golden Age storyline, and it seemed that Gaiman was slated to finish the Silver Age story that ended with a cliffhanger and was never completed due to Eclipse Comics’ demise. But here we are, years later, and we still haven’t seen the end of that story. I’m glad for Gaiman’s recent success with American Gods, but it isn’t a project that interests me. The gods I want to read about have “Miracle” in their names!

So, armed with some store credit, I picked up issues #21-23 of the original series, leaving me with only the rare (and still a bit pricey) #24 on my wish list. I’ve read them all before, thanks to scans posted online, but it’s just a different and more satisfying experience to read the physical copies. (You can find scans of the original series at https://readcomiconline.to/Comic/Miracleman-1985)

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Those three books ate up most of my store credit, but I had just enough left over to pick up another story I’ve read before but was partially incomplete in my collection: The Price by Jim Starlin. Sure, I have the color “remastered” version that was the Dreadstar Annual, but I have never seen nor owned the original magazine-sized black-and-white edition, and I just love the black-and-white painted art of the original Metamorphosis Odyssey that appeared in Epic Illustrated and started the whole Dreadstar saga.

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The original art reveals just how much the coloring/painting process enhanced the artwork’s mood and the story’s vibrancy. The original feels cold compared to the color version. It lacks the brilliant reds of the robes worn by members of the Church of the Instrumentality, the eye-popping colors that bring various cosmic and mystical energies to life on the page, and the powerful emotions suggested by the reprint’s color artwork.

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However, the front and back-cover paintings are rendered in their original full-color and full-size glory, unlike in the reprint where they are shrunk and surrounded by additional cover elements that distract from their beauty—a complaint that at least one reader expressed in the original letters column of Dreadstar when the Annual was discussed.

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I’m pleased to now have both versions of The Price in my Dreadstar collection, and the original was the one piece I’ve felt was missing over the years. How I assembled, lost, and re-assembled the entire original series four times is a saga of collector triumph and tragedy, but I’m happy to now have every issue I ever wanted from one of my all-time favorite stories in any medium.

Now if we could just see the end of Miracleman, all would be right with the universe.

Thank you, readers and fans of sequential art for visiting this site and using it to find the books you want!

Collectors’ Guide:

Miracleman #1-24 (original 1985 series, Eclipse Comics)

Miracleman (reprint series by Marvel Comics, includes original issues #1-16)

Miracleman Golden Age (reprint series by Marvel, includes original issues #17-22 )

The Price (original magazine-sized b&w edition, Eclipse Comics)

Dreadstar Annual #1 (full-color reprint of the original, Epic/Marvel comics)

 

July Ebook Giveaway!

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From now through July 31, you can get the following ebooks absolutely free on Smashwords:

Meteor Mags: The Battle of Vesta 4 and Other Tales

Meteor Mags: Omnibus Edition

Never See the Night

The Baby and the Crystal Cube

Three Years Dreaming: A Memoir

Anything Sounds Like a Symphony: Poetry at Maximum Volume

Animal Inside You: Poems of Chaos and Euphoria