Saturday, May 20, 2006

BEA Day 2: Free stuff

Hi hi hi again! And welcome back to Bully's Adventures at BookExpo America, the only place this weekend you're going to find such illuminaries as George McGovern, Bob Newhart, Kaye Ballard, Dave Barry, Jim Belushi, Ted Kennedy, Rupert from Survivor, Captain Jack Sparrow, and the Pillsbury Doughboy, all wandering the aisles promoting their new or upcoming books. It's the ideal place to learn about publishers' fall and holiday lists, meet editors and salespeople from various companies, hear informative and entertaining seminars on running bookstores, and...

Oh heck! My favorite part of BEA is the free stuff!

Stroll up and down each aisle and you'll be bombarded with a cornucopia of freebies, giveaways, complimentary copies and just plain cool stuff you're allowed to take. There are plenty of ARCs (advance reading copies: paperback versions of upcoming books so you can read it before the book is published), free copies of finished books, toys, magnets, notecards, magazines, stuffed animals, catalogues, posters, pins, stickers, candy, pens, tote bags, and so much more!

As Miss Manners (also a BEA guest!) might point out, however, you'll be a good BEA guest if you obey a few simple rules of etiquette. Don't be grabby: if things are offered for free, please take one and not a handful. Some things are intended for "blue badges" (booksellers) only: Different types of guests at BEA wear different colors of identification badges. The most valuable guests to the publishers exhibiting are "blue badges": the owners and staff of bookstores around the country. It's most useful for publishers to get ARCs or free books into the hands of these people as they are the ones who are selling and promoting them! If you have a different colored badge like my yellow (exhibitor's) badge, they may ask you politely not to take one as they are intended for booksellers. Be cool, folks! Again, don't get grabby! Not everything you see in a publisher's booth is free: Multiple copies of a book stacked in front of the booth are generally for a giveaway. Books displayed on shelves or walls are usually not. If you're unsure, it is cool to ask politely if this is a complimentary item. Again...don't get grabby! Finally, don't take every book that's offered for free. You aren't gonna read 'em all and you'll wear yourself out carrying them around. Plus, you do know that publishers and other booksellers laugh at the sort of scavengers who, thirty minutes after the show opens, are dragging five or six crammed-full tote bags full of galleys, don't you? (I'm completely serious. This really happens. All the time.) You know the drill by now: don't be grabby!

Whew! That may seem like an awful lot of rules but I think you can see now that BEA boils 'em down into: don't get grabby. And believe me, you can still get an awful lot of cool stuff. Why, here's some of the fun items I picked up:

One of the hot galley giveaways at this show was The Book of Fate, Brad Meltzer's new thriller novel. The tag line is: "Washington DC has a 200 year-old secret." Golly. I sure hope it's not that something horrible happened to Martha Washington, and so the Founding Fathers all banded together and decided to lobotomize the culprit. Then, years later, it all comes back to haunt them...That would be jus' plain unbelievable as a plot!

The kids' book giveaway that was getting the most attention was the late CrossGen's sole surviving legacy to publishing, J. M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog's Abadazad from Hyperion. It's now an illustrated prose novel with pages from the comic interspersed throughout the book, which makes it a bit uneven. See the white lanyard? This was the BEA badge lanyard given to all attendees of the BEA show, so nearly everyone at the show was a walking advertisement for Abadazad. (That's not a free BEA service: that's paid advertising funded by Hyperion).

Stop by the graphic novel pavilion and you can pick up quite a few free comics and some graphic novels. DC was giving away copies of V for Vendetta at one point! And finally I got my Free Comic Book Day copy of Owly!:

I was allowed to take a complete set of the classic Peanuts Happiness is a Warm Puppy series at the Sterling booth. Thanks, guys!:

Don't tell anyone who I am behind this mask, because I have to preserve my secret identity. Luckily Reader's Digest were giving away Spider-Man and Hulk paper masks to promote Marvel storybooks, playsets and puzzle books coming out this fall!

But here's my very favorite BEA giveaway: a set of three buttons from Yale University Press to promote Ivan Brunetti's October book An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories. That's artwork on the buttons by Ivan, Seth, and Dan Clowes, by the way. I betcha anything you'll see these buttons on eBay next week— but not from me! I'm keepin' 'em and awarding 'em the title of as the best giveaway at BEA 2006!:

More about the Yale University Press book and other upcoming graphic novel and comics publications I learned about at BEA...and which comics publisher prob'bly got the most out of BEA and which didn't (and why) my next exciting entry! You can't wait, can you?

Other BEA entries: Day 0Day 1Day 3

Friday, May 19, 2006

BEA Day 1: Trotting around the BEA Floor

Welcome to BookExpo America 2006, everyone! Well, I know you all can't act'lly be here in Washington this weekend to go to the book industry's largest industry trade show. For those of you in the comics world who've never been to one, it's like Comic-Con without a dealer's room and with fewer Stormtrooper costumes. If you've ever attended or worked at one, you'll know it's a lot of hard work that'll leave your hooves sore and aching by the end of the day. You guys are the lucky ones: you can just read about it on the internet!

Let's walk around the convention floor and see what's goin' on this opening day, shall we?

Welcome to BEA 2006!

I find it best to have a nourishing beverage before braving the floor:

Book people from all over the world come to BEA: authors, publishers, bookstore owners, managers, buyers and employees, and lots of press folks. So it's often very busy at the show. Hey, watch where you step, everybody! I'm trying my best not to get underfoot but I am only a little stuffed bull!:

There's a lot of books on display. Please don't be grabby: Some of them are free for you to take but many are there for display purposes only and are not for giveaway. Free books are often piled in high stacks at the front of booths by the aisle, but if you're unsure, please ask!

If you pay attention to the schedules, you can get to meet some of your favorite authors and have a free book signed by them! Bring a notebook to mark down who you want to see and wear a watch, or you'll miss 'em! We'll see if we can catch up with Sebastian Junger later:

There's many displays, exhibitions, and events. You never know what's going to be there:

And there's plenty of free fun for all and lots of great photo opportunities. Arrrrr! I am a scurvy pirate in the Houghton Mifflin booth! Jim lad. Arrrrrr:

If you feel a bit peckish, there are often snacks in various booths. Many people have yummy yummy Fun-Size chocolate bars to give away. I also saw Cracker Jack, raisins, lollypops, and here's some cheese! Don't be greedy and eat them all!:

Testing out a prop for a new book about taxicabs. This would be useful for getting around the show floor!:

Caution: the BEA may contain peanuts. Charles Schulz's Peanuts, that is! Fantagraphics shows off their line of Complete Peanuts books (another one's coming out this October)...:

...and Sterling is reissuing those classic Peanuts gift books you may remember from your childhood:

You never know who you'll see on the show floor! Here's Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, promoting his upcoming autobiography:

And here's my favorite travel publisher, Kermit, sharing a laugh with me in the Countryman Press booth. Hi Kermit!:

Walking the floor can be tiring and thirsty work, so be sure to stop by the very, very crowded food court at the Washington Convention Center to wait in line for a tremendously long, long time to to get some lunch:

Fortified from your lengthy lunch, you'll then be ready to brave the crowds and trot your way up and down the aisles again:

The publishing world is abuzz about Google's plans to digitize books. That sort of sounds like something out of Tron doesn't it? Sadly, there were no cool lightcycles when I visited the massive Google World at BEA:

After a brief lull in the early afternoon, it often gets very crowded again in the aisles in mid-afternoon:

But it's always worth braving the masses for the chances to pick up some free promotional souvenirs. Hey, free rulers!:

You can always find some excellent sales reps to tell you about their books. These guys are among the best in the business:

Hey! Sebastian Junger is signing his new book! Thanks, Mister Junger. You are an excellent writer and a very, very handsome man:

Tomorrow: Free stuff? You bet! Plus, comics can be fun at the BEA!

Other BEA entries: Day 0Day 2Day 3

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fifty Characters That Make the DC Universe Fun

Just to throw some comics-related content into this BEA week, blogger extraordinary Tom Bondurant at the always-fun The Great Curve has put out the call for The 50 Best DC Characters Survey. I dunno about best...I'm no great judge of what makes a comic or a character a I'm going to list the fifty characters I think best represent my love of and enjoyment of the DC Universe.

In other words, Fifty Characters That Make the DC Universe fun!

EDIT on 5/25/06: Tom Bondurant has pointed out that I needed to rank the characters in my order of preference (or, as I'm judgin' 'em, fun-ness), so this is a revised order if you looked at this entry before. Also, he vetoed my inclusion of Julius Schwartz (boo, Tom!) so I'm substitutin' Blue Devil:

1. Starman (Jack Knight)
2. Ambush Bug
3. Lois Lane
4. Matter-Eater Lad
5. Bobo Benetti
6. Harley Quinn
7. Superman
8. Zatanna
9. Death
10. Alfred Pennyworth
11. John Constantine
12. Sandman (Morpheus)
13. Shade (Richard Swift)
14. Jimmy Olsen
15. Darkseid
16. Red Tornado (Ma Hunkle)
17. Batman
18. Lex Luthor
19. Merv Pumpkinhead
20. Phantom Girl
21. Halo
22. Shade the Changing Man
23. Ra's Al Ghul
24. Starman (Ted Knight)
25. Harvey Bullock
26. Impulse
27. Poison Ivy
28. Guy Gardner
29. Kono (LSH)
30. Blue Devil
31. Stargirl
32. Katana
33. Joker
34. Cheeks the Toy Wonder
35. Space Cabbie
36. Ultra Boy
37. Bat Hound
38. Skeets
39. G’nort
40. Scarface
41. Gorilla Grodd
42. Silver St. Cloud
43. XS
44. Bat Lash
45. Metron
46. Batmite
47. Krypto
48. Foxglove (Sandman)
49. Funky Flashman
50. Orion

And you know...

Of my top eight picks, take away the one non-superhero (Lois, who I think is gonna surprise a lot of people with her strong showing on Tom's final tally), and you've got: Superman. Starman. Zatanna. Bobo. Matter-Eater Lad. Ambush Bug. Harley Quinn: my Seven Soldiers of Victory team.

Heck, I'd buy that book!

BEA, Day 0: I loaded sixteen tons and what did I get?

...I got our BEA booth ready to go, you bet!

Lots of boxes to be lugged around, crates to be unpacked, displays to be displayed and the whole big grey grand lady of the Norton book to be assembled today as we prepared for the start of BookExpo America 2006 tomorrow morning. Don't be jealous, Dorian—there is a lot of physical labor we had to do to get ready. Even tho' some nice union guys did a lot of the heavy lifting, I was still tired and sore by the time it was assembled:

Wow! There are a lotta cartons to be unpacked. I better get my heavy lifting gloves on:

Unpack these next! I think there are important books in here:

What's in these crates? I sure hope it's not vampires. Let me get my hammer and wooden stake, just in case.

There! I have hung up all the posters. Hello, Meatball guys!:

Whew! That's a lotta copies of The Meaning of Night. C'mon by the Norton booth and ask me nicely for one!

Finally the booth was finished and I am very sore and aching from helping move boxes around. Tonight: A nice hot bath and some Vicks Vap-O-Rub. It tingles: that's how you know it's workin'!

Tomorrow: the view from the BEA floor!

Other BEA entries: Day 1Day 2Day 3

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mister Bull Goes to Washington

Greetings, fellow Americans! I'm feelin' all patriotic and American-y 'cos here I am in our nation's capital, Washington, DC! I've travelled down here for the 2006 BookExpo America, running all this weekend at the big impressive Washington Convention Center. This is the big yearly trade show event of the book publishing world, where all the publishers and booksellers get together and decide, yes, it would be a dandy idea to sell a lot of books this fall! Which is always a good thing. It's an excellent way to get to meet publishers, see what they're coming out with on their Fall publishing lists, and schmooze with the elite and the neat of the book world. P'raps this year someone will ask me to publish a book! I will wander around the floor looking wistful carrying my manuscript hoping that someone will offer me a lucrative publishing contract with the standard rich-and-famous clause.

Comic book publishers often attend BEA as well, so I'll be checking out the big DC pavilion (always an oasis of impressiveness) and the tiny Marvel booth (usually just one guy sitting behind a table—c'mon, Marvel, get with the program!) Many of the other independent publishers are there as well and I'll be searching them out, especially if they're giving away buttons or free stuff. That's one of the most amazing things about BEA: it's a cornucopia of free stuff, from trinkets and toys to lots and lots of free books. Don't be grabby or selfish and ask nicely when you step into a booth and p'raps they will give you one of their many giveaways! Remember: just because they have a book displayed that does not mean it's for free!

Tomorrow is the big busy "set-up" day and I will be helping John and Miss Eugenia assemble our big battleship of a display booth, cart around boxes and unpack books and catalogues. I'll take some "before" and "after" photos to show you how hectic it is! (I hope I get to hang up some posters!)

In the meantime I had a pleasant day today wandering a bit up and down the Mall in Washington:

Here I am admiring the very tall Washington Monument. That reminds me: I need to buy a new pencil.

Then I stopped in at the Capital Building to give Congress a piece of my mind about this Superhuman Registration Act I've been hearing so much about. They were a bit disinterested. I kept on asking them: whose side are you on! But no one would tell me if they prefer shiny metal Iron Man or patrotic, shield-slingin' Captain America. To educate the Congresspersons I began to sing their theme songs: "Tony Stark/Makes you feel/He's a cool exec/with a heart of steel..." and "When Captain America throws his mighty shield/All those who choose to oppose his shield must yield!". But despite my excellent singing voice and uncanny knowledge of Marvel theme songs, no one really wanted to hear me or to make a choice of which hero they supported. I think I need to take a big fat stack of Marvel Comics around there tomorrow and pass them out so our government knows what's going on. You know, I truly think that would solve a lot of problems: what the nations of this world need to learn to do is to read more comic books. Especially Mister Bush. I think he would really, really enjoy a comic like Green Lantern or Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Everybody would be better off with a comic book, I think.

More from BEA tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Snakes on a starship!

Yes, Samuel L. Jackson is cool. He is one bad mother.

But always remember:

James T. Kirk always does it first, bigger and better:

Star Trek #11

Monday, May 15, 2006

Today in Comics History, May 15 and Miracle Monday: A Monday in celebration of two men named "L"!

It is very rare that two fantastic holidays fall on the same day. In most cases that's a good thing. You wouldn't want Hallowe'en to fall on the same day as Easter, would you? There would be less candy that way! Also, don't you feel sorry for those kids whose birthdays are on Christmas?

But every once in a while the moons come up at the right time and Jupiter is aligned with Mars or somethin' like that and we get two holidays on the same day that complement each other as well as peanut butter and chocolate, or cereal and marshmallows. May 15, 2006 is one of those days, and if you haven't taken the day off from work or school to celebrate, then you're jus' missin' out, bucko! 'Cos today, on May 15, we celebrate two important men, both with the name "L":

On this day in 1856, L. Frank Baum, the First Royal Historian of Oz, was born. Celebrate his life and work by reading an Oz book or comic book. Oh okay, you can watch "The Film" too if you want! Today is also an ideal day to check up on Eric Gjovaag's Wonderful Blog of's fun any day of the year, but especially on May 15! (But please bring back the "Where's the Witch" feature, Eric!)

It is also Miracle Monday, which falls on the third Monday of every May, and is a day of celebration and joy in honor of Kal-El. (You may know him better as Superman!)

As Elliot S! Maggin writes (an' he should know, he's got a "!" in his name!):
"On that day...resort owners on the glaciers of Uranus raise ski-lift tickets for the influx of tourists. Teamsters driving slow-moving cargo transports to Earth from mining operations in the asteroid belt get drunk and silly like sailors crossing the Equator for the first time. In honor of Superman's chosen profession, even journalists can spend the holiday with their families. There are laughter, reflection, public celebration with barbecues and holographic light shows all over the solar system, merriments of all sorts. It's a big holiday."

Miracle Monday!

On Miracle Monday throughout the DC Universe of the future—I imagine this is a big holiday for The Legion of Super-Heroes (does Brainy give you guys the day off?)—a place is set at the table in honor of—and preparing for the return of—Superman. Won't you set a place for him at your Miracle Monday dinner table today? I know I will! Hope you like chicken-'n'-dumplings, Kal-El! (And you don't have to eat your peas either. I won't tell!)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

She-Hulk #7: Not fun at all.

SHE-HULK #7: This comic is not fun.

For once, it's not solely because of the Greg Horn cover that's just horrible, horrible cheesecake (I'm sorry, do you even know how fabric stretches over curves?) and legally inaccurate (Jen Walter isn't a personal injury lawyer):

She-Hulk #7

It's not even only because of the terribly awkward and out-of-place rape trial of Starfox storyline. Look...I'm just exasperated by this sort of reality intruding upon the general Marvel Universe. Maybe I'm jus' bein' naive, but imposing adult-themed storylines onto a universe created without them, in the name of modern "reality," and especially in a light-hearted book like She-Hulk, seems bitter and misguided. I don't object to superhero comics "growing up" and trying to handle themes that are not something that would have been considered or handled in the days of Stan, Jack, and Steve. Sure, superhero stories as a genre need to grow and evolve. But shoehorning such themes into the general Marvel Universe leaves a distaste in my mouth. My take on it is, the way to explore these themes is in a book and characters of your own creation. I'll even accept you wanting to explore this story in a "Max" or even "Ultimate" book. But imposing the theme on a mainstream Marvel Universe book? Maybe valid, but not what I want out of a mainstream MU book. Rape: horrible. Rape examined as a storyline? Not like this, not in a book like this, please. I'm not even saying this because I'm a big Starfox fan. Not at all. Hey, even in the days of his Avengers career I thought the way he used his power was a little spooky and creepy. (Even ditto for the Silver Age Professor X, mind-wiping civilians left and right). The always-eloquent Ragnall, as usual, says it this much better than I could.

So what bothers me about this comic besides all that stuff (which, to be honest, is quite enough to make it not fun for me)? But there's one more thing. So what makes up the dog poop topping on this garbage cake?

Jen, defending the accused Starfox of rape, looks to past and present Avengers to testify on his behalf:

She-Hulk #7

She gets agreement from Hercules and the Wasp, surprise from Hank Pym, and downright no's from the rest.




Captain America. He's not saying no because he believes Starfox is a rapist. He's not saying no because he believes Starfox is guilty.

He's saying no because

(let's look at it again)

Captain America

He's saying no because of what other people think.


No, no, no, no, no.

I know it's wrong to get uppity about a comic book and tell the writer they don't know what they are doing and how wrong they are handling a character...but no, no, no, no, Dan Slott. No.

That is not Captain America.

Captain America does what is right. He does what is just. He makes wrong decisions sometimes...but Captain America does not let public perception make his decisions for him.

If there is one man in the Marvel Universe you want to have at your back in a fight, it's Steve Rogers. Because you can count on this: if Steve Rogers believes your fight is right and just, he will battle alongside you to the death, no matter what anyone else thinks. Captain America thinks for himself.

Not Dan Slott's Captain America, I guess.

"Do you think this 'A' on my head stands for 'France'?"

No, "Dan Slott's Captain America." I think it stands for apathy.