Mike Romo’s Wednesday Grab Bag

Hey, happy Wednesday! I’m kinda all over the place — just like the markets, I guess — so this post is basically a bouquet of different ideas that have bubbled into my brain over the past week. In fact, let’s start with what that kind of week is like:

Writing a weekly article for iFanboy.com, starting at the moment you are done with your post:

1) Check the Defer Publish box, enter the time and date (I go live at 9am PST on Wednesdays) and then press Save. For me, this usually happens on Tuesday evening… Tuesday afternoon… though it has happened very, very early on Wednesday mornings, I admit.

2) The day of the post, check the post a few times during the day to see if anyone is making comments. Try not to compare the number of comments your post gets compared to the other team members, but fail. Play Jimski‘s Ode to the Beyonder and recognize your creative frailty.

3) Live your life for a few days. Approximately 4 days before posting your next story, realize you do not have a column idea.

4) 2-3 days before it’s due, start looking at every aspect of your life in regards to comics. Think about everything you are reading. When reading a comic, make a mental note of what’s cool or terrible about it. If you can do this for three or four comics, you might have a story. Think about making a drink, but realize that you’ll probably forget about the comic the next day if you drink too much.

5) 1-2 days before — if you don’t have a story, start panicking, quietly. When people talk to you in “normal” life, ignore them, nodding as you mutter something about “Galactus” and “Millar” and “live action version of Kick Ass” and then walk away in the middle of the conversation.

6) When you find an idea (and you will get an idea, I promise) write as much as you can, immediately, before you get sidetracked by pie (or just the smell of pie, really).

7) Write write write then paste it into the site and then save it, otherwise you will lose it by accident and have to start all over again. Find pictures. Reread it. Submit it. Go back to #1.

It’s stressful, but it’s an honor to have a chance to discuss this stuff with you (believe me, with the way my work life is going, this is, like, the brightest part of my week, let me tell you). Thank you for reading.

So, today, instead of going off on a particular topic, I am going to touch on a few things. Let’s call it the Wednesday Grab Bag, shall we? WGB?

Now, I think of my previous article have been a bit down on comics. Like, the regularity, the boxes, the cost… you know — I was whining; I see that now. This past week I was getting caught up on my books and I realized that there are lot more cool things about comics than uncool things, and here are a few:

1) How cool is it that an artist can provide an overt style to enhance the presentation of the story? Take the Angel: Revelations miniseries. Now, I am not sure how many of you picked this up, but if you see a copy, flip through it. The pages are gorgeous — each page is a single art event, in a way. Adam Pollina’s framing devices, the layouts, the exaggerated body proportions — these elements add an almost post-gothic sensibility to the story, framing it in a very formalized way, providing gravity and, well, grace to the story, befitting the title. It’s not for everyone — I can see a few of your sneering — but I thought that the page layouts and overall framing added a lot to the story. Same could be said of other books (I think I’ve mentioned Simon Bianchi’s pages before — same kind of thing).

2) Here’s the deal, comic book publishers: we read more than one title. Oftentimes, we read titles that feature the same characters. These titles may come out at the same time at first, then the schedules might slip, get delayed, etc. The thing is, when we open the comic’s first page, we do not always remember the last page of the previous issue. Do us a favor and give us a “story so far” summary in the front of every book. If you can’t put it in the book, put a story summary on your website. Oh, don’t panic — you can always put ads on the webpage. Look, we just want to get the most we can out of the story and giving use a few sentences can help a lot. Kudos to Marvel for doing this with so many of their books (though some of the Secret Invasion intros could be a bit better written).

3) Sometimes it’s easy to be frustrated or overwhelmed by the sheer volume of books that a title might have, but the flip side is significant: it’s nice to come back to these characters every month or so. They give us a constant in our lives, which, at times, can provide a lot of comfort, in a way. Like, my week has been super hellish, but, in a way, it’s nice to know that, say, Matt Murdock’s at least getting some, you know? Seriously, the guy’s had a rough time, it was nice to see him smile (sure, of course, he feels terrible now, but he was still happy for a bit). On the less crass side, how about Powers #30? We have been worrying about Deena for the past year and really slogged through that story together with these characters — that issue was positively awesome, a total recognition of everything “we” all went through. That kind of regular story telling, unfolding month after a month, adds an emotional history, which really differentiates the comic book medium from other forms of storytelling. Though, I admit, that TV shows like Battlestar Galactica and, many would argue, soap operas (and yes, I realize that some might think that there is no difference between BSG and a soap opera) can generate similar emotional bonds between the characters and viewer.

4) Here’s something I am thinking about a lot lately. The fight scenes in comics. Like, some are really good — Powers has had some great battle sequences, the recent Wolverine have been awesome — but I gotta admit, sometimes, after a few pages of fighting, I am like, okay, I get it, get on with it, especially when the pages devoted to the fight come at the expense of moving the plot forward (cough, Secret Invasion). I mean, even flashbacks have some kind of use, but long, drawn out fight scenes… in the end, they just seem pointless without real emotional stakes building up to the battle. Without being firmly supported by plot and character, fights can devolve into the droid battle in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace — who cares? It’s just a bunch of pixels fighting each other anyway, right? No emotional stakes.

5) Finally, anyone else happily skeeved out by these “Embrace Change” ads? Unlike HervĂ© over at the Comic Book Bin, I really I love them — the kids smiling really freaked me out. I think this stuff is great; I would love to see them in a regular magazine, just to see how people react (I guess they were on ESPN 2?). Though I know nothing about it, I do think that the ads have been really effective, perhaps because, all of a sudden, there are photos of people in comics? Of course, some of the print spots are better than the others (I think the one with the kids is the best of the bunch). Hate it or love it, at least it’s fun to see Marvel trying something different. But if this means there’s another Skrull event or something coming, count me out. I’ve seen enough of those chins to last me awhile, thank you very much.

So, there you go, just a few random thoughts for your October. (Anyone read the 3-D Final Crisis? I haven’t popped the glasses out yet.) Hope you have a great Wednesday… oh, it looks like I will be on the Pick of the Week Podcast this week, so “talk” to you then.

Mike Romo is an actor in LA. He’s glad he’s not a skrull because shaving those chin ridges would be rough. He can be reached at mike@ifanboy.com.



  1. Great post Mike. It’s alwasy interesting to be able to understand the thought process of another person. The seven steps to writing a post gave me a chuckle or two and were very entertaining. Also, I’m digging these new Skrull ads as well with children as Skrulls, much more than I liked the heroes as Skrulls(seeing as how none were for the most part). As for Superman Beyond… it was an interesting issues, I know alot of people like it. Frankly for me the 3-D vision hurt my head and so did the story, but I do not regret picking it up.

  2. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but whenever you go to post a comment you always have to hit "SUBMIT". It can’t just say post reply, or comment, no it has to make us "SUBMIT" to the entity that is IFanboy.

  3. I’m with you on the "catch up" page.  I wish DC would do this only because there are times when I want to start picking something up but have no idea what’s going on.  And believe me, I know it’s the joy of comics to hop on Wiki and look things up, but I’m lazy dammnit!

    Also, I love the "Embrace Change" campaign.  I remember the first time I saw one, I laughed hysterically.

  4. I think the catch-up recaps would be cool. I read Ultimate Spider-Man and have read The Ultimates, and i kinda just breeze right over those pages. I’m secure enough knowing and seeing that it is there in the event that I would want to actually read it to get caught up.

    Yes, I know, I’m a nozzle.

  5. I had a lot of fun sending the embracechange.org link to a large group of friends, some who read comics and some who don’t.  I sent it with no info other than "This is weird" it was interesting to hear some responses.

    Oh and that Powers WAS awesome.

  6. I’d like to see a recap in the beginning of the Superman books, since they’re all intersecting and I forget what happens when and where.

  7. I’m glad to see that Angel book made an impression on someone else. If that art team were working on Avengers or something, everyone would lose their minds, but for this book it was a perfect, expressive match.

    You did forget the alternate posting week: come up with an idea six days in advance, spend the week screwing around because you’ve got it in the bag, then sit down the night before and go, "Oh, crap; there is no meat on this bone at all."

  8. Great post. On the fight scene thing- I think there’s a big difference between a bunch of disconnected action-pose splash pages (SI, Phantom Menace) and a fight with a definite sequential narrative where action follows action in a logical, strategic way (Kirby). Of course, emotional stakes are the most important part.

  9. I almost never buy a book soley on based on the art (i.e., when I do not find the story compelling).  Angel Revelations was an exception.  You stated it well.  There was FANTASTIC artwork in that book.

  10. Or revert to those old editor remarks that were in old comics like old Spider-Man comics.

    Like: * happened in Civil War: Heroes for hire #3.

    Marvel tried apes, so why the hell not?

  11. Great post, Mike! I look forward to your WGB’s!


  12. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Take all the steps in Mike’s column writing checklist and shoehorn them into Tuesday morning, around 10:00-12:00 (sometimes 4:00). That’s my slow jam.  The work does not stop after clicking publish.  I’m usually still editing well after the second comment is posted.  I refuse to work under any conditions other than complete panic.  

    I’d like the Embrace change ads if they were executed a little better.  They look really cheap.  

    Angel: Revelations is now on my list.  

    Love the scattershot grab bag posts!  Joshables!  Mike’s Wednesday Grab Bag!  More bang for your buck!  I like it!