Purveyor of Previews

Previews. What a joyful gift it is each month. Almost 500-600 colour pages of pop culture glory. It’s basically a phone book sized catalogue including  comics, action figures, novelties, posters, books, magazines, collectibles, games and DVDs. Stuff you would generally not find anywhere else. It’s all good stuff. Well, most of it. Both comics shops and their customers order from the same catalogue. If you see something you like in there, you tell your favourite comics outlet, they’ll order it for you and then you wait two months (or longer) for it to arrive. That’s not because it’s coming across the seas on a viking ship manned by short-limbed asthmatics. That’s because, well, I don’t know why really, but it gives fans plenty of notice. 90% of the items in every Previews will be available 2 months later, so July’s stuff will reach us in September. I give my Previews away each month after I’m done with it (after I’ve torn out anything that would make a nifty poster) It’s a great blessing to those who are interested in pop culture and you’ll discover all the latest TV and movie toys way before your less informed friends. This advance warning will allow you to mock them relentlessly I’m sure. Each issue has an introduction on how to use it, a few nice articles and interviews and a Top 100 Best Sellers list. (Unsurprisingly April’s top comic was Marvel’s Secret Invasion #1) This month the theme is horror, with a few top picks of the genre. Each of the major comic publishers have their own section – Dark Horse, DC, Image, Top Cow, Marvel and magazine publisher Wizard. Their most popular books have a page each, with the creators listing, cover art, story summary, page count and price and maybe a preview of a page or two. Oh and Marvel get their own little catalogue inserted into Previews. Cause they like to be different. Previews is distributed by Diamond, a company who pretty much has a monopoly on distributing English language comics and related goodies worldwide. If you’re curious about this whole comics things, Previews is a good place to start. It’s cheap ($4.50 US) and stored up near the front counter. If you see anything of interest, ask your friendly comics shop worker-drone to order it. If you don’t find anything, you’ll at least have lots of nice pictures to drool over.

Let’s dive into the current issue, shall we? Skipping past all the comics for now, let’s go to the Magazines section towards the back. I have to order Back Issue #30. This ish is all about the Saturday Morning Heroes, ie, TV and ‘toon superheroes, like the 70s Captain Marvel show and Space Ghost. The highlight for me would have to be the Super Powers feature, which was an awesome cartoon/action figure tie-in from DC Comics. In Books, The Ten-Cent Plague leaps out at me. It’s a 400 page look at the most interesting period in comics history, when they were public enemy No. 1. Those rascally publishers had apparently gone too far and churches and governments shut them down. This’ll be a fascinating read. The Toys/Statues/Models section is usually the first one I go to each month. Where else could you find a life-size Thor hammer, a cute Admiral Ackbar (exclusive to Previews) or a vampire skull?! I could make a great movie with those three props. Star Wars fans have the best pick of novelties though. For example, a talking Darth for your PC/Mac and a cuddly Chewie for your back.
There’s a little intro into the world of comics via the world of Previews. Later on in the week, we’ll take a gander at some cool comics hidden in the depths of July’s Previews.

The X-Men Film of 1984

Sometime in the mid 1990s I recall reading about a proposed X-Men film that was to involve at least two actors who would’ve represented their comic characters more faithfully. Arnold Schwarzenegger was tipped to play the metal-skinned Colossus (complete with Russian accent) and Mel Gibson was to play Wolverine, in all his short-statured fury. I remember this because I was just starting to get into the X-Men at the time, and was quite excited by the prospect of this cinematic adventure. Of course, years before that I was excited upon learning of a He-Man film with Dolph Lundgren. Those were the days before the internet, where we had to wait to be disappointed until we could see the film on the silver screen. Or VHS. Now we can learn every maddening detail on-line and save our dashed hopes for other things, such as our local sports team.

1984 X-Men FilmA few years before the 90s X-Men film there was this one, or there could’ve been. Comics writers Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway wrote a script for a proposed film of Marvel’s favourite super group, but as is often the case in Hollywood, a script doesn’t necessarily mean a movie. An interesting discussion between the pair, as well as a brief history on the project is available for free at TwoMorrow’s site. The publisher has been around since 1994 and focus their magazine, book and DVD efforts on comics history and discussion from the 1970s to today. Back Issue is one of my fave reads. It’ll mean a lot to nostalgic fanboys. Draw! and Write Now! are also full of useful advice from pros to all wannabe creators. Look for the Comics Go Hollywood PDF, fill in some details and the 36 pager is all yours. It also includes an examination of the storyboards of the new Justice League: New Frontier DVD, an interview with writer/producer Jeph Loeb (Smallville, Lost, Heroes, lotsa comics) a look at legendary artist Jack Kirby and Hollywood, and the Joker’s transition from page to screen. It’s well worth a look for comics history buffs, or those who’d like to know more. I must say the X-Men film is a highlight. With giant nostrils, a walking Professor X and no mention of the word “mutant,” it’s a good thing this film was never made.