So I reached out to one of the people I know thru wrestling who is also a comic book fan & huge horror fan: Rob Dimension, 1/2 of the Extreme Odd Couple Podcast alongside "The King of Old School" Steve Corino. But before I get into that, I'm just going to shoot out some random thoughts about things I've been reading lately...hence "The Runaways" image at the top.
First off, my friend Pat (follow @patridings on Twitter) recently gave me 3 hardcovers of "The Runaways" series written by Brian K. Vaughan of "Y: The Last Man" & "Ex Machina" comic book fame AND "Lost" on TV. I started up this book when it first kicked off in 2003 but due to financial constraints I only read it for the first 6 issues. I've seen the various characters pop up elsewhere, most recently in the "Daken: Dark Wolverine" book, but never had any clue what happened in their own story. Well, after only a week since I started reading the 1st Hardcover, I have plowed through all 766 pages of the first 2 Volumes and am probably 150 pages into Volume 3! I'm almost mad at myself for not being able to stick with this title after those first 6 issues, but so happy in this world of collections that I am able to read it all at the same time. To keep this short & simple, let's just say this is a truly unique book and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Vaughan's work, or if you were ever a fan of "New Mutants" or "Power Pack" and the like.
Second up, I also recently plowed through the Ed Brubaker/Matt Fraction "Immortal Iron Fist" Hardcover for the first time. Holy hell is this a great book! For reasons to myriad to list in a short fashion, I will just say that this is an exciting, intense, engaging read with beautiful artwork to go along with it. Iron Fist has always intrigued me since...hell I think it was a "Marvel Comics Presents" story when I first read him & Power Man...but this story just makes him into a true badass. I've enjoyed Bendis' portrayal of him in whatever "Avengers" title he is in (too many, get confused) but he's not exactly THIS version of Danny Rand. I now need to read the Duane Swierczynski's issues that followed to see what/if the lingering plot threads were continued. If you like Iron Fist, crazy martial arts action, and amazing art work, go pick this up!
I have both "Runaways" & "Immortal Iron Fist" in my Amazon Store linked over there on the side in case you're interested.
Thirdly, I read today that "Flashpoint" is getting turned into an animated movie. Color my curiousity quite piqued because as you may (or may not) remember from an earlier blog, I was NOT a big fan of the story. I even gave it a reread since I own the Hardcover (it has something to do with my compulsive need to own major story arcs in both companies) and STILL didn't care for it. There were cool moments, great character potential, but overall it was just a disappointment creatively and an awful way to kick off the New 52. The ending was sweet but hated the story as a whole even on 2nd & 3rd readings (Batman: Knight of Vengeance was the only good thing). All that being said, I am very excited by the idea of this becoming an animated movie because I think it could make for an amazing visual experience if boiled down to just the story of Flash, Batman, and with some more detail given to the Aquaman/Wonder Woman story arc. I've never been disappointed in the DC Animateds so bring it on!
And finally, DC Comics full court comic book press has fully begun for "Dark Knight Rises" as a million different trades are getting released in the coming months. Already released were a Bane TPB called "Bane vs. Batman" containing "Bane of the Demon" (where Bane & Ra's Al Ghul join up...take that for what it's worth) & "Vengeance of Bane" (the origin story of Bane); a Darwyn Cooke "Catwoman" trade; the reissue of "Venom" which is the history of the drug that power Bane; a collection of "Birth/Bride/Son of the Demon" which are all Ra's Al Ghul stories; and just today a reissue of "Knightfall", the story of Bane breaking Batman, and the first collection of this story that contains the complete arc in one volume as well as "Vengeance of Bane".
There's also a "Knightquest" TPB & "Knights End/Prodigal" Trade coming out as well in the next few months, the former making me super excited because it has NEVER been collected before! I'm a big fan of AzBats so I'm super psyched. Oh yes, and there is also the random rerelease of "Prey" which features Hugo Strange in a prominent role...and he was a character many people hypothesized would be part of "DKRises". It's a good time to be a Batman fan if you're looking to catch up on your history!
One more finally...just discovered I attended Michigan State University starting in '97, in connecting dorms no less (9 North Hubbard represent), at the same time as Jeff Katz (follow @katzmoney on Twitter) of "Booster Gold" comic book fame as well as a "Snakes on a Plane" associate producer, and the head of the "Wrestling Revolution Project". Just a small world to find this sort of thing out on Twitter and an example of the amazing power of social networking. It's my blog so therefore it's amazing...
Now onto the main event of this blog, the Q&A!!!
That's Rob Dimension up there...and here's the batch of random Q's I sent him to give me some A's for; give it a read, give his plugs some love, and perhaps I will do some more of these with various other people I know who have love for the comic book world! Be warned in advance, this one isn't necessarily for the easily offended as you can tell from the first question...
1) Give me some background info on just who Rob Dimension is and why Steve Corino wants him to have AIDS....
Wow, what a way to start off...lets see...Rob Dimension is just a guy who enjoys his family, horror movies and saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time. I've known Corino for over 12 years and since day one, we have enjoyed syaing the most hideuos things to each other, using Twitter and Facebook has made this things more exposed in the last few years. I've managed Steve in Professional Wrestling, plus have worked as his legitimate business manager. We both are a mess, mentally, so I think it makes a good pairing.
As for me, besides working in the world of Pro Wrestling, I have been fortunate to move onto film and Tv work. I'm usually a featured kill, seems Corino isn't the only one who likes seeing me die..haha...but, I really am a nerd for Horror, Comics and Comedy.
2) Do you remember your first.............................comic book?
My first comic book? Not really, I stumbled across titles growing up, they were pretty accessible. I really remember, the Uncanny X-Men (issue 147) being the comic that started my real love for comics. The double issue 150 was my prized possesion for years. Then, I followed Daredevil, Marvel Team Up and the Invaders. Growing up in a small town, we had a comic shop that was pretty friendly, they carried a lot of titles and I can remember seeing X-Men #1 on thier wall and always wanting it.
3) What were the books you read when you were a wee little Dimension? Did you find your tastes in comics changing as you got older?
Comics went through a rough patch, in the mid 80's with me...Arcades became a favorite pastime. I felt that comics exploded prior to that and they started to get watered down. As you get older, sure your taste changes, your interests change. Comics have always had these problems, only so much story can be told. As readers, we need this to happen, as long as they can pull us back in. TV helped, with Saturday cartoons giving us Spiderman and His Amazing Friends, Thundarr and shows like that, made me crave more, once those shows moved on, I grew less interested.
4) How the hell did you end up running a comic book store and why would you ever stop?
Running a Comic shop is an uphill battle. Talk about outside distractions...TV, Video games, Sports..so many things. I really loved running our store, we grew (and changed locations 3 times as we grew). It's a job that gives you no time off, as my kids grew, my Wife, Kim and I just decided we wanted a bit more of a normal life.
As for the store, we really had a great gaming base. From role playing games 3 nights a week (Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire and the old Marvel RPG) to current popular card games like Magic the Gathering and even Pokemon. Our Pokemon league was the largest on the East Coast, housing nearly 90 players every Sunday afternoon.
I was always an action figure dealer...sounds so weird to say that, but I was there with the rise and boom of the market. Watching McFarlane's toys grow from simply Todd's Toys was great. It seemed everyone had a toy line, then the bubble popped and the market crashed. So, it, once agin, took away from potential in the comic book shop industry.
5) DC or Marvel? Or maybe it's Image/Dark Horse/Boom/Something totally different?
I have always been a Marvel guy, I just prefered their universe compared to DC. I have read some DC stuff, but still can't seem to get onboard with them. In the last few years, I have been the biggest advocate of the Walking Dead series. I feel that Robert Kirkman is a master story teller. His writing makes you care for the characters, he builds the story...when someone dies, you care. They aren't super heroes, they are families..they are alone. They are the Walking Dead. I'm a HUGE Zombie fan, love George Romero's stories...I enjoy Kirkman's world. Can't recommend it enough.
6) Since you mention Walking Dead, any thoughts on the TV adaption vs. the comic book?
The comic is soo good, to go against the grain, I will say this - The 1st half of Season 1 was great, the 2nd half, they almost lost me. I know that it can't be page for page of the comic. Characters like Daryl Dixon are a great addition, but having them to the Disease Control Center was horrible and uneeded. Now, Season 2 was paced so great...it was slow, as it should be. The breakdown of Shane was awesome...so much termoil made this season great. With Michonne being introduced, I can only hope the show does not jump the shark. The prison backdrop is really one of my favorite story arcs in the comic series, so I'm extremely hopeful.
7) Do you have any thoughts on the explosion of comic-centric movies & how they seem to be the keystone of Hollywood right now? And I guess in that same vein, why do you think the billions of dollars the movies make don't translate into actual comic book readers?
Yeah, the explosion of comics onto the screen, as a fan has been great, except when Hollywood turns out some turds. On the flip side, having fans see Hellboy and The Watchmen, knowing that the masses would have never given them a chance otherwise, is great. Iron Man, too me, is the best adaptation to film yet (I've heard The Avengers is better..but time will tell), it told the story so well, the casting was great! Robert Downey IS Tony Stark.
My thoughts on why it doesn't add readers...well, the stories they are telling are stories that have mostly been told, using characters that most know...we need these heroes to do something different. Plus, kids don't read...girls do, boys don't (hence why Twilight, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games have a huge following). Boys are often playing video games. It used to pain me to see kids never give this entire universe of stories a chance. Companies are trying though, some even released the motion comics to try to give you the best of both, but I don't think it made enough of an impact.
Online bootlegging has killed the market, plus they have no collectibility anymore. The "alternate" cover craze is over...that only excites such a small amount. I'm hopeful for comics, but we both know...it's an uphill battle. Stores that are successful are often really involved with their community. Offering a variety of everything, you need to cater to everyone.
8) Since we're on the subject of movies, what's your favorite comic-book related movie?
As I said earlier, Iron Man was perfect. But, let me state this...as for a corny addition, I love Roger Corman's Fantastic Four film that was never released. I just have soft spot for that one..it's awful but, for me, its awful in a good way.
My biggest problem with the Hero-esque films are the orginality. Meaning, we all know the why the Hulk is the way he is..we all have seen Bill Bixby as the Hulk. We know he gets mad, he becomes the Hulk. I wanted to like both movies, the Ang Lee one especially, but just couldn't. The Dark Knight was amazing, but Heath Ledger really made it better...his portral was great. I still enjoy watching Batman nightly on the Hub channel.
9) One last comic/movie question, what do you think of rebooting Spider-Man/Superman after only a few years since the last movie?
Too soon, the Spiderman series that Sam Raimi did had it's good and bad points. The new release looks ok, but, will I go see it? Probably not..it doesnt look like I'm the demographic.
Superman's reboot was horrible I thought. Christopher Reeves is embedded in my brain as Superman and its a tough act to follow. It would be like a reboot of Hulk Hogan...in most people's eyes, Reeves IS Superman. Now, granted, the younger kids probably don't know who Reeves is, but at the same time, will they even bother going to see the new Superman? I doubt it.
10) Now you're obviously a horror buff so what are your thoughts on the horror comics that have been done over the years?
Horror comics are sketchy...I'm a hard sell. So many have been done..poorly. I've always given the typicals like Michael Myers, Leatherface, Jason titles a shot, even Ash from Evil Dead. The titles that are similar to Tales from the Crypt types are tough...times are different, I just don't think I'm their demographic anymore.
Crossed - wow, that was an insane story, I LOVED it. Different take on the zombie/sickness story. Worth looking for.
Hack/Slash - Tim Seeley did an amazing job with this series. The Omnibus' are a must buy...Cassie Hack, she's a hottie and Vlad is the muscle, battling all walks of life killers. This is a great series. I'm not a huge fan of his newer stuff, but his older stuff with Herbert West, Chucky and the rest of their nutty universe was great.
The Living Corpse - another great series by Buz and Ken, a different look on story telling. Their art is a bit over the top, it's raw and gritty...I love their style. Look them up.
11) Any favorite creators in the genre?
As I said, I often don't think Robert Kirkman is given enough credit...it's because of his work, that I have really fallen back in love with comics. Over the years, the Dark Knight stories were amazing...everyone has a different pick, it depends on what catches your eye.
12) Before we steer off the subject of horror, what's your favorite horror movie?
My favorite Horror film is John Carpenter's Halloween. The movie has stuck with me ever since I was a kid. The use of music, shadows, the tricks that made Michael Myers seem mysterious is why it worked. How it borrows from Italian film making....I could get so technical on what makes this movie work..haha..but I will spare you my nerdness. Other favorites are George Romero's Dawn of the Dead & Day of the Dead. Plus, Tom Savini's remake of Night of the Living Dead.
I also am a HUGE advocate of Independent film making. I can't encourage people enough to give up and comers a chance. Hate what youre seeing in theaters? Then turn to the Indies.
If you want to read more about my Myers fascination...read this - http://latenighthorrorhotel.blogspot.com/search?q=growing+up+myers
13) And just because I've seen you reference it on Twitter, talk about Matthew Broderick's Godzilla....
I'm a huge Godzilla fan, I love the Japanese Daikaiju scene...the early shows like Ultraman, Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot and Space Giants, but the US version of Godzilla was awful. It was a big lizard, plus..he wrecked Madison Square Garden!! Who does that?? I have given it several tries to put my true Godzilla feelings aside, but I just can't. The US is working on a new reboot, they seem to be trying to keep the Godzilla look intact, but who knows.
For Giant Monsters, I still think Cloverfield was worth the time, plus the Taiwan film, The Host is really good. I like the silliness of a guy in the rubber suit, not everything has to be CGI.
14) Every tried to create your own comic book?
Haha...no, I have enough trouble with developing other projects. I know a lot of talented artists and writers, it's tough. Web comics are getting bigger, while money is getting smaller...I always encourage people to support your local comic book shop. Try to get your kids to read...kids are so busy with other things, comics are more of an Adults market...I wish Kids would just grab something that could peak their interest.
15) Have you tried to turn your son (@LilDimension on Twitter) into a fan of comics at all? I plan on forcing my kids to read comics whether they like it or not...
Little D, my son, is 12 and is into video games, skateboarding and now BMX bike tricks. Getting him to read, its tough. He does enjoy Star Wars and Hulk comics, plus is a fan of the movies. He's VERY critical of stories...he craps on so much. Kids today are different than I was..I would amazed by what they did in Comics, today, these kids have seen everything.
Now, my Daughter, who is 18, is a comic book fan. She is an Art Major, so she appreciates the creativity. She only reads certain titles though, she's a Walking Dead fan, but often reads small , independent company comics. She also enjoys some of the Zenescope titles. She's a freak for the artwork, the more abstract and odd they are, the more she loves them. She likes the dark, twisted side of stories.
All you can do is just show them that there is a whole world out there...try to let them decide and hope they try to read some.
16) On that note, any thoughts on comics as a learning tool? My first exposure to Shakespeare, Milton, Poe, etc was via Chris Claremont X-Men comics...also certainly expanded by vocabulary and forced me to learn new words like antithesis (Shadow King & Xavier moment in Uncanny #278 I think it was).
Sadly, TV is the learning tool now. I think the way to introduce kids to comics again is get them into schools..but, I don't think thats going to happen. As a comic reader, I feel we can detect evil easier, we would have a better thought process in the event of a giant, world eater was to appear. I feel they are a great learning tool, they shaped me into the person I am...maybe that's not that great of a statement, actually.
17) Because it's kind of fun to torture him, I can't let this end without asking about you trying to turn Colby (@colbyisrising on Twitter) into a comic book reader just to drive Steve nuts...
Steve never had much nerd exposure, he was a baseball kid. Colby, while an athelte, is into comics & video games. Colby and I have had talks about the Walking Dead, about classic games like Burger Time..haha and a few others. The last road trip we had, he grabbed an "Civil War" trade that was in my backseat and read it. It does make Steve crazy, he yells at me about how awful of an influence I am...but deep down, Steve knows Colby is a great kid and times are different. Plus, Steve realizes I havent grown up...haha...I think he's happy knowing he has a great kid.
But, yeah, he hates it...so I do instigate it a little.
18) Thanks for your time Rob, now Insert Plugs & Self-promotion Here:
You can here Steve Corino and I ramble every week on our popular Extreme Odd Couple Podcast at www.xocpodcast.com and subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher Radio. Plus, you can always visit www.RobDimension.com and read my movie reviews, our video reviews and hopefully soon our new web series "Dimension Monster Chronicles".
That's it for the latest edition of "20 Plus Years..."! Join me next time as I think I might tackle the story that got my interested in the Wally West Flash in the first place, "Rogue War"!