The iFanboy Letters Column – 01/25/2008!

Friday means many things to many people. For some, it means it’s payday. For others, it means it’s two-for-one from 4pm to 6pm at the local alcohol emporium. And for others still, it means it’s time to hop in the car and drive to Topeka and spend the weekend with their secret, second family.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always if you want to your email read on the show, or answered here, keep them coming –

I was just watching the latest video podcast “Voice Mail” and one of the questions was from Scott from a St. Louis, Missouri comic shop. He had asked a question about how to get noticed and remembered as a comic shop.

That made me go back to just this week at the local comic store I go to. I’ve only been back to reading comics for a little while, but I am a loyal customer to him.

This week, he asked me if I had ever thought about getting Previews. I paused, and said that no I hadn’t thought of that. He said a short spiel on how he could get them for me at what he pays for them instead of the other customers, and it seemed like he wanted to get me involved with these Previews.

Thing is… I have NO idea what a Preview is. I haven’t been back to comics long enough to know all the lingo, and because there was another customer standing behind me waiting to check out, I didn’t dare ask and loudly announce my ignorance.

So please, if you could, somehow let me know what a “Preview” is in the comics world.


I feel your pain Patrick, as my introduction to Previews was very similar to yours, except I asked what it was and was laughed at by the comic book store I was in. So I took one for the team I guess, even if it was a few years ago.

Previews is a catalog/magazine published by Diamond Comics Distributors, who are the sole distributor of comic books to comic book stores. Every month they release a new copy of Previews, which is as thick as phone book, that contains ALL the comics schedule to ship in 3 months time. So for example, the latest copy of Previews features to comics scheduled to ship in April. By taking this catalog and using it to give your local comic shop an order 3 months out, your comic shop can order as correctly and accurately as possible, and minimize on over or under ordering on specific titles. It can be helpful for many folks who want to plan their orders and pick and choose what they’re going to buy ahead of time.

That said, I don’t use Previews. I don’t have a rational reason why. I understand how it can help the store with their ordering, but there’s something about the fact that they charge for it (some stores give it away for free, but some charge the $4.50 cover charge) and that I have a hard time planning my comic purchases 3 months out. I love the idea of going to my store on Wednesday and being surprised and picking my purchases right there and then. But, because I don’t use Previews, I’ve often missed out on new comics when they were released because my store didn’t know I wanted it and therefore didn’t order it.

So no matter what you choose to do, now you know what Previews is. And as they say, knowing is half the battle.

Ron Richards


I recently heard that All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder is a PREQUEL to The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again.

Dick is absent from The Dark Knight Returns and remember the nutty Joker-ish character from The Dark Knight Strikes Again that turned out to be Grayson? (Yeah, I had forgotten too.) When Bruce confronts Dick/Joker he says he was fired for “For incompetence. For cowardice”.

Anyway, Miller says the relationship between Batman and Dick in All-Star, i.e., locking Dick in the cave etc, is the genesis for the eventual confrontation.

I don’t know If it makes All-Star Batman and Robin any better but still, you know, something to think about… Conor?

Ed from Canberra, Australia

Yes, Ed?

I don’t care what Frank Miller says about what is and wasn’t isn’t in the same universe. And I don’t say that to sound overly harsh or mean. I’m not directing any animosity his way. What I mean is — yes, as the artist Mr. Miller has every right to say what of his work goes together with what. But as I said in “Continuity“, I firmly believe that you have to make your own continuity. You take the stories that work for you and you put them together. At the end of the day these books exist on your shelf and in your head. It’s not likely Frank Miller’s going to sneak into your house and wake you up by tapping the cold steel of a blade against your throat so he can tell you which books belong together. Or maybe he will. Anything is possible these days. So don’t quote me on the “not likely” thing.

As for the books themselves, for me The Dark Knight Returns stands on its own. For a while I considered it part of my DCU canon, but I think Kingdom Come usurped its position for me as “The Last Story”. The Dark Knight Strikes Again, I haven’t read since its initial release and I’m not really in a hurry to, although Josh tells me upon rereading all these years later it’s much better than it was originally given credit for. So maybe I will need to check it out again to see where that should go. As for All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder, as I said a long time ago, I consider that book to be all on its own. If anything, it should be published by Dark Horse Comics, because in my world, this Gotham City is just down the coast from Basin City.

Conor Kilpatrick

I just read the first trade of 100 Bullets. Unlike Fables, it was not good. Does the series improve after that first trade, or is it downhill from there? I’ve heard a lot of people say good things about it, but they usually consist of “I really like that book,” with no explanation. Should I bother continuing? Is there any chance that an FBI agent might give me a briefcase with a gun and untraceable bullets? Why does Rob Liefield only draw slim-fit jeans? These are the questions that haunt me.


Jonathan, if you didn’t like the first trade, it’s certainly not going to get any better. I will try to give you a better explanation of why I did like it when I did. Clearly, a change took place at some point, and I’ll get to that too.

When I first picked up 100 Bullets, I started with issue 15 or 16, and really liked what I read, because it was unlike anything else out there. It was harsh, and stylistic. The characters spoke in a poetic street slang, and it was just raw. Plus, every arc was a different type of morality play. The basic question of the book was, if you were presented with undeniable proof that someone had wronged you, and wronged you badly, and you were then given the means to kill them, and get off absolutely scot-free, with no strings attached, would you do it? After reading those first couple issues, I went eBay and back issue nutty, and bought all the issues leading up to where I was. This was before I even thought of getting trades. And I’ve got to say, I thought the first 20 issues or so were brilliant. I think there was a single issue, maybe issue 11, which was a self-contained story, and it’s one of the greatest 22 page stories I’d read up to that point.

But then, the wheels came off the horse. The farther and farther this book got into the underlying conspiracies, the less interested and more confused I got about what was going on. It’s very possible that trade readers aren’t experiencing the same problem I had. I finally gave up somewhere in the 50’s, and I haven’t really missed it. I also haven’t really found anything from Azzarello that I connected with since, which is odd, because at first, I was completely smitten.

I should say that I never, ever tired of Eduardo Risso’s art. I think he’s one of the greatest artists working in comics today, and were it not for the fact that the story completely lost it’s hold on me, I’d be talking about him a lot more. Hopefully, when the story is over, he’ll do some other work. I know he’s done some other things here and there, but obviously nothing else regular.

Since you didn’t like the first trade, I would tell you to stay far far away from the rest of the book, because you’ve already seen the best there is in my opinion.

Josh Flanagan

I always hear you guys talking about starting a book in trade and catching up to read it in issues (especially Ron). I was just wondering what your method is for doing this, do you buy all the trades and start buying the monthlies as they come out or try and track down the back issues at your comic shop? Also, what if you can’t find all the back issues you need at your shop?


Catching up to a title in issues when you’ve already started reading in trade paperback can definitely be a tricky endeavor. I’ve done a couple of things. First and foremost — and as you suggested — I find out what issue the latest trade paperback ends with, and then seek out the back issues to catch up. This can work if you don’t mind doing some leg work, if your store carries a good back issue inventory or if you’re going to a convention and can access many dealers (Which is what I’ve done in the past).

If you don’t feel like hunting for back issues, your best bet is simply to just buy the latest issue, acknowledging that there will be a gap in the story, and then pick up the next trade to fill in. Sure it’s annoying, but it’s like watching a new TV show mid-way through the season and having to wait for the DVDs or for reruns to catch up.

Finally, the rarest of opportunities is the kind that presented itself to me with Invincible, with issue #42 they presented a perfect “jumping on” point for people who wanted to start reading the title or for people to move from the trades to issues. The issue provided a great recap, and then the next story arc started from there. So all I had to do was start buying issues with issue #42, and then get the trade that ended at issue #41 and I was all caught up. Simple and easy and now I get my Invincible fix every month (or so — damn you, Kirkman!)

Ron Richards

My reason for writing is that I hope you will take some time to talk about delays in general. I can not believe the regular delays, especially from Marvel, although others like Dynamite have disappointed on The Lone Ranger and others. Of course it just may be my perception that Marvel is worse because they make up 80% of my pull list.

This last year we have been reading Halo: Uprising, “One More Day”, World War Hulk, and Captain America: The Chosen, all of which have been unacceptably erratic. I mean come on, none of these comics have any reason to be erratic. They are all short stories that should be produced easily. I am to the point with Spider-Man that I can not believe they are capable of putting out three books a month. I figure they will be so far behind by the end of the first month that there will be no hope of the story arc surviving. The frustration of not having the stories finished is almost not worth it. You have to go back and reread the last book or two just to see where the arc was.

This is even worse when you look at the Avengers. The New Avengers have already done the symbiote fight a month or two ago. Now The Mighty Avengers look like they are finally going to arrive at the fight. I’ve about had it. Why can they not get their act together? 

Brad J. from Astoria, Oregon

Astoria, Oregon? Is everyone Greek there too?

Judging by the e-mails and voicemails we get, “monthly issue delays” is in, like, the top three of things that piss comic book readers off the most.

As you say, Marvel Comics is 80% of your pull list so you notice those delays more but, really, it’s an industry-wide phenomenon. Over at DC Comics, the Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman books were all disgracefully late in 2007. And as you mention, The Lone Ranger is far from monthly lately, which is all the more glaring considering its decompressed, written for the trade style of story-telling, I have all the issues but ended up buying the first trade for the western video show we did and it read much better in that format, I am considering switching to trades on that, I just have to decide if I’m okay with waiting until, say, 2009, for the next volume.

Ironically, delays are going to be a boon to The Amazing Spider-Man. Because “One More Day” fell so far behind schedule, the creative teams behind the three times a month book were able to pile up issues and get much further ahead than they had originally planned. I don’t expect that book to fall behind schedule anytime soon.

Conor Kilpatrick

I’ve just been on holiday with my parents who are close to retirement age (a lot of fun I know-not exactly a contiki tour). But I was reading comics, which I usually do, and Dad was asking me what I collect and I go through the laundry list of comics that I get- It got me reminiscing about Dad’s comic collection. He used to read The Phantom, and in Australia The Phantom is HUGE. It is the only coast to coast newsstand comic in Australia and my Dad had thousands before a termite problem in the house saw the end to that (mine were in long boxes and in bags and boards so they were safe (try getting bags for the odd shaped Phantom comics). I would like to get him some comics in this vein to see if he enjoys them and to see whether we can have some conversations about it down at the pub.

Here’s some info on the old bastard:
1) He used to be an English teacher.
2) He likes spaghetti Westerns and Monty movies.
3) He has very little time for slow story-lines (I tried getting him to watch Heroes and he was not into it).
4) He liked Sin City but funnily enough he did not like the Frank Miller art of the original graphic novel.

I was thinking The Lone Ranger (as I am also reading it and he likes old school Westerns), Dan Dare, F.E.A.R. Agent and was even thinking The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And I am thinking about something that reads well in trade paperback. Oh and my mum is very religious so Preacher is right out. What do you blokes think?

Sam C. from Canberra (The Capital City of Australia)

Ooh, this is a good one. I think you’re on to something here. In fact, the first thing I thought of was Dan Dare, which you obviously thought of too. Then, of course, since he was an English teacher, he should have zero trouble with the greatness that is Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In fact, he’ll probably appreciate more than I did the first time through. But even if you don’t know any of the references, it’s just a completely fun comic book read, which moves plenty fast. In the same vein as Dan Dare, I’m going to suggest looking up a mini series Warren Ellis did with Chris Weston, called Ministry of Space, in which a fictionalized England won the space race and the society that developed following that. And if you think he’ll like The Lone Ranger, and doesn’t seem to have a problem with some of the more violent stuff up there, how about Jonah Hex? It’s one story per most issues, and is a hell of a lot of fun. We talked about it a few episodes back. Finally, you didn’t really mention any superhero comics, which I’m usually loathe to recommend to new comic readers, but I’m willing to bet that he’d really like Batman: Year One, which is just all kinds of classic and modern at the same time, probably taking some inspiration from The Phantom, while being one of the best Batman stories ever written and drawn.

And I’m sure the folks on the board will have some other recommendations I never even thought of. So if you’ve got any other ideas for Sam’s dad, help me out! I hope you get some quality time out of the old man for this. We like to bring families together here at iFanboy.

Josh Flanagan


  1. I thought it was interesting to note (pretty sure it was on Wordballoon) that the delays on Halo were due to Bungie and not Bendis, Maleev, or Marvel.

  2. Previews is the best Patrick, even with the daily updates on the internet, I still found myself missing a lot of books I’d like to check out. I don’t place orders out of it all that often, but whenever I want something, the guys at my LCS order it for my pull box. I just like it because it keeps me in the know about what’s out there, for the next time I am at the shop, or at a convention.

    As for Sam’s Dad, what about the run Cooke just finished on The Spirit?

  3. I did think of the Spirit, but for some reason, I thought he might not like it, so I didn’t say it. That’s a gut feeling though, and I can’t explain it.

  4. That goddamn explanation about goddamn All-Star Batman makes more goddamn sense, but couldn’t it just be goddamn Miller reacting to the goddamn reaction of the goddamn book? Also, doesn’t make up for the lateness of the title.

  5. I loved the first trade of 100 Bullets. I thought they would go with that original premise of revenge and guns and choices, and the chick with the teardrop tattoo was an interesting character. Then it just got confusing and honestly quite boring but I kept buying and reading, hoping it would get better, but except for a few issues here and there, it never really got me like those first few issues. Why I kept at it and bought up to #75, I don’t really know.

  6. I always wondered why the publisher didn’t get a couple issues completed as a buffer before releasing any new runs out there. They could always wait until a creative change on an ongoing book before they banked some issues, throw a couple filler stories out there to pass the time. Ta da! No more late books.

    Nowadays with all the long waits readers face it seems like an easy solution to set yourself apart from the competition.

  7. I’m worried about Josh. Horses don’t have wheels.

    If they did, I’d have bought one already.


  8. I always wondered why the publisher didn’t get a couple issues completed as a buffer before releasing any new runs out there. They could always wait until a creative change on an ongoing book before they banked some issues, throw a couple filler stories out there to pass the time. Ta da! No more late books.

    There are several reasons for this. For one thing, mediocre fill in issues just make the late books more noticeable, since the story still isn’t being finished. The first story of a given arc is never the late one. Two, if the story is any good, banking it away wastes it, and if it’s not good, then they shouldn’t put it out in the first place. Plus, since there is continuity in books, they can get stale real fast.

    And Paper, that Train has sailed.

  9. two letters from australia’s national capital!

    fair dinkum, oi,oi,oi, fair crack of the the whip… seriously

    and in the vein of aussie pride, i just want to say the phantom was first published in 1936, three years before batman in 1939, the wide brown land was ahead of the USA right there. but you guys have the best bombs so i’ll shut up now

  10. And on Australia day no less!

  11. right on sam

    australia, australia, australia, i love ya, amen

    oh and how about that new Impact Comics, huh? pretty rad

  12. HELL YEAH!!! It was hell when it was closed for a week. Talk about withdrawals!

  13. it is pretty cool, a much nicer place to shop, i think. i work at valentino’s cafe in garumea place so the new store’s about 100 metres from me. thats some heavy temptation on a daily basis.

    you see that Josh, Ron and Conor? iFanboy is bringing people together all around the world

  14. On a slight tangent — Sam Cavanagh might like to inquire at his local store about ‘Phantom bags’. Some brands have same quality bags in varying sizes, and given the popularity, I’d be surprised if they weren’t at least aware of them for order. They’re reasonably common!
    Handy for Vulcans, too. ;-p

    Not to kill the national pride (on AUS DAY!), but don’t forget The Phantom is an American character, and only entered print under FREW in the late forties. It just so happens the Aussies (and Swedes) are the only ones that have really fostered a fanbase for the character, and insisted on associating him with boxer shorts.

    If your father’s at all anal retentive about the character, I’d keep him away from the Moonstone books, too. Throwing daggers at people?! Come on! ;-p

  15. hey guys. I’m sure everyone has heard of Godaddy and netflix since 1999. if you aren’t getting clicks on those sites it’s because we all know them. if you want to make money think about getting on the radio in NY and go from there. there are 500,000 podcasts now. it’s the law of diminishing returns. why not go professional and make your own money by producing your own show and get on cable and/or radio? are you guys scared?

  16. As per the dad question, I just read a really good Chuck Dixon trade called THE IRON GHOST. It’s about a Shadow-like pulp character killing off Nazi’s in Berlin during the final days of the Nazi regime. It’s a well written mystery, and a contained story in 6 parts. Great for a historian/pulp character lover.

  17. mike, mate, what can i say. i’m embrassessed

  18. Well, if Russel Crowe, Mel Gibson and Crowded House count, why not The Phantom? Lord knows the Americans turned their back on him.

    I’ve been trying to think of something (other than maybe The Spirit) that really speaks to a lot of the same things as The Phantom.
    If your [Cavanagh] father is at all familiar with Vulcan (70s British Anthology), and maybe even if he isn’t, he might like the Paul Grist stuff Jack Staff and maybe Kane.

    Like anything, I guess it’s hard to really derive a ‘taste genome’ from one example.
    If darker fare is on the table, Sandman Mystery Theatre does well to take inspiration from the Golden Age Sandman stories (very Phantom-esque), but spin them with a contemporary style. I think you also get a bit of Diana Palmer in Dian Belmont.

    For that matter, for all the talk about The Shadow as an influence on early Batman, the acknowledged Phantom ties are definitely there. The Golden Age Batman stuff is probably a relatively safe bet (and in colour, too, ooo!)

    The sense of ceremony derived from that pulp influence keeps Batman a good bet for Phantom fans, too, despite the far harsher nature of the character. Year One and even Dark Knight Returns and Dark Knight Strikes Again aren’t bad initiations into facets of the character, with more of those gimmick/mysteriouso qualities.
    You could trade the Phantom Cave, Bandar, and Rex for DKR/DKSA’s Bat Cave, Sons of the Bat and Carrie Kelly. :-p

    And continuing the theme of the superficial — I could imagine a Phantom fan, particularly one with any inclination toward the more prominent American heroes, enjoying Darwyn Cooke’s instant-classic (and oft recommended) New Frontier.

    Some of my Phantom stories are the boxing ones, so scenes with Wildcat are a fun and similar thrill.

    Aaaaand this isn’t my site, so I should probably give it a rest. Cheers!

  19. I Get the point as Australia seams to be the home of the convict. lets look at the list:
    1) Mel Gibson= American
    2) Russel crowe= New Zealander
    3) Nicole Kidman= American
    Lets look at the real Aussies like Phantom artist Glen Lumsden who worked on the Marvel series in the 90’s (which had Merv Hughes in it).
    On another note, an update. I have sent Dad the Batman Year one trade and The first League of ExtraOrdinary Gentlemen. I have told him not to wacth the movie even though I am a Starman fan and am torn (like when half a rag will do) over how a James Robinson fan should feel about that movie. (I am thinking about sending the first Starman trade but I think that may be overkill)
    Go Canberra

  20. The first story of a given arc is never the late one.

    Johns/Donnor/Kubert on Action Comics – still not done.

    There was a time when DC used to brag about having at least six months of stories in the can. Guess that isn’t the case anymore.

  21. It was harsh, and stylistic. The characters spoke in a poetic street slang, and it was just raw.

    And that pretty much describes why I disliked 100 Bullets. I spent so much time deciphering street slang that I stopped caring about what was going on. Thanks for warning me off, though.

  22. I have to disagree with Josh