November Grab Bag!


When I was a kid, I remember all the adults would read Herb Caen in the San Francisco Chronicle. He had a good thing going, he was kind of like a prototypical blogger, in a way — he would just fill his column up with short paragraphs, discussing what was going on in San Francisco. Maybe it was an attention span thing or just a good way of filling up his column? Not sure, but I had a few thoughts, so I thought I would do my monthly “Grab Bag” column, complete with Caen-like asterisks to break up the thoughts…

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So, I made the mistake of mentioning the Economic Comic Summit from last week to my LCS owner on Saturday afternoon. I told him how there were a few people talking about the whole market going to a trade model and I literally thought his head was going to fly off. He’s always in the mood for a good rant, but he definitely took the whole issue — we talked about pricing first and it turned to trades — rather personally. It was really interesting, he assumed that people thought that comic book store owners made this great living (I never assumed this, but I guess others do?) and how the customers really didn’t understand how difficult and crazy it was to be in the retail business. I did learn something that you might find useful, though — if your store takes them, it would help them out to use checks instead of your ATM/Debit or credit card. I guess every time a card is swiped, it generates a charge for the store (a debit swipe incurs a smaller fee than a credit swipe). He explained that even when he deposited cash there was a small fee — but none with a check. I dunno if that’s the case with your LCS, but it sounds like the credit charges, in particular, were pretty intense. So, in these times, talk to your dealer and see what works best for him or her; I think they’d appreciate it, especially as the holidays approach.

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Not sure if you picked it up, but Sandman Dream Hunters by P. Craig Russell came out two weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. As I was paging through PCR’s wonderful, lyrical art, I realized that I actually like these kind of otherworldly, fantasy tales a lot — like, maybe more than superhero books, in a way. I think that might be because many of the books I like tend to be gritty-in-the-city hero books like Daredevil and Batman, so the room for creativity, while obviously there, is limited by its very focus. You just don’t have the artistic leeway when doing a crime novel set in set in the city when you compare it to mystical, fantastical stories. Comics might be one of the best ways to experience books like this (Countdown to Mystery comes to mind, of course, and there are plenty others) — there is a the capability for the writer and artist to truly create a unique world limited only by the combined imaginations of the creators. You know what I mean? It reminds me of animated movies — you can tell stories with animation that are not possible (or at least economical, perhaps) in live action. And, even if you could, you wouldn’t really want to — look at Bolt and Up, for example. Like, I don’t think the movies would be nearly as good if they weren’t animated. I think the same can be said of some kinds of comics books.

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I will take the opportunity to undermine what I just wrote and say that Paul Dini’s Detective Comics #805 was obviously a very good book (check out the Pick of the Week). I really enjoyed it for all the reasons Ron and Conor did, but I must say, the ending was just terrific. The Aristotle quote, “We are what we repeatedly do” has really stayed with me — there is a lot going on in this world, and that quote made me think a lot about what I am doing with the opportunities that make up my life and really appreciated Dini throwing down (very) old knowledge with that story. Made me think… of course, it make me think while Elliott was killing his mom, but still — thinking good.


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Earlier this year, our good friend (and inspiring comic creator) Matt Silady was in town, so I took him to a few shops, and he recommended I pick up Super Spy by Matt Kindt. I did, and I really liked it (I am not sure if I talked about it in an earlier essay or not — if I did, sorry). I am finding that I am a real sucker for not only flighty, whimsical fairy tales (wheee!) but I also like the spy stuff, especially World War II spy stories an awful lot (there seem to be several good WWII books out there — I trust you checked out Battlefields: Night Witches #1). What’s great about Super Spy is that it is basically a collection of short stories, scenes, even, that are all related. You can read the book as a whole, with the characters coming in and out of focus, or you have the option to read them in order (you can read the “dossier numbers” in order to read the story chronologically). It reminds me a bit of the Sin City DVD — you can watch them all a single vignettes or have the stories cut together. This book is well worth picking up, and I daresay it would be a pretty great present for someone who likes comics but doesn’t have a whole lot of time for superhero trades.

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Speaking of which, you would think there would be a really great opportunity to a James Bond comic, but as far as I know, I have never seen one. I would love to see a James Bond book where Bond did not look like any of the actors in the many films… let’s have Brubaker write it with Maleev, shall we? That would be pretty hot. Same could be asked about Jason Bourne, too I like the character, it would be great to see Bourne and Bond in longer missions, you know?  

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Good news! I have a new strategy for my battle to read my unread comics — read them during breakfast! Not only does it force me to eat breakfast, which is a very good thing, but it makes me take my time in the morning and lets me doing something other than look at the news on the computer, which is what I usually do. News is stressing me out anyway. I read Kevin Smith’s Cacophony this morning. I wanted to like it more than I did; I just felt it was a bit uneven, but maybe that’s the essence of writing about The Joker. Still, there was a bit of that desperate hipster “I can’t believe he did that” feel to it. We’ll see. I was majorly burned by The Evil That Men Do  story from a few years back; it will be interesting to see if they can actually get the other two books out this decade. Regardless, reading a comic book during breakfast is a great way to start the day.

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Have you seen the new Star Trek trailer? I must admit, even though it looks a bit like Friday Night Lights meets Star Trek, I still think it looks pretty good (actually, I really liked the FNL movie a lot and I hear the TV show is good). Apparently the guy who is playing Kirk is really, really good — yes, he’s a bit pretty but, then again, Shatner was a pretty boy , too — and whatshisname’s Spock looks solid as well. Interesting that they are not building the ship in space — I haven’t seen a terrestrial spaceship dry dock since Robotech/Macross — should be interesting to see how it goes.

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Speaking of movies, when Milk comes out, go check it out. I saw a screening of it and it’s pretty amazing. Actually, I think Herb would have thought so, too. Crazy.

Mike Romo is a native San Franciscan living and acting in Los Angeles.  He can be reached at or you can follow him on twitter if you like.


  1. ‘"Friday Night Lights" meets ‘Star Trek’" is an awesome awesome way to sell a movie to an audience of me.

    And I think I’d prefer a Bourne comic to a Bond comic, but either one could be pretty awesome with the right creators.

  2. Super Spy is a great read.  I picked it up at my shop when Kindt was in town doing a signing.  Good stuff.

  3. If you’re going to ape Caen, you need at least one paragraph about how awesome San Francisco is.  You could also turn up the name dropping and gossip a bit more.  Tell us who was seen hanging out at Isotope.

    I miss Herb Caen.

  4. PudgyNinja–you are totally right….I thought the "Milk" reference would kinda do it, but you are right, I really needed to talk about a sunset or some kind of cool "only in San Francisco" moment.  lol on the name dropping and gossip–sucks to be in LA, makes it hard to really ape Caen well…


    but yeah, he really was the voice of the City…totally sad that he’s not around..


  5. Mike, I really like the format of your article.  I look forward to the next one.

  6. You read Batman: Cacophony while eating breakfast?  You are made of sterner stuff than I.

  7. hold the phone…

    The guy who plays Sylar plays Spock in the new Star Trek movie? That’s interesting… will he switch between opening up people’s heads and doing the Vulcan Neck Pinch?

  8. I sorta have a problem with a little kid stealing a car in a world where there are totally sweet hoverbikes.  If he’s got the moxie to steal some ridiculous antique and drive it off a cliff, he’s got the moxie to steal a hoverbike.  

    Also, why are highway hoverbike cops all dressed like darth vader?

    I’ll pass on this one.  

  9. pretty much every morning I read two or three comics with my breakfast. Well morning or afternoon whenever I wake up ( I work nights).  It definately a nice way to start the day, slow everything down a bit and enjoy your time before work.

  10. I’ve never seen them either, but it looks like there are are a some older Bond books out there: