It’s no secret that from time to time we dip our toes into all things comics ’round these parts. Funny thing is, I never thought I’d find myself sucked into the world of all things drawn, but when you marry someone who damn near has an addiction, you wake one day to discover that you, too, have been sucked in.
My husband knew I’d never be compelled enough to read anything less than a half inch thick – smart man – so my gateway drugs were all graphic novels: David Boring, by Daniel Clowes, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, and Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, by Chris Ware. Now, thanks to Richard at Zeus Comics in Dallas, I’ve become consumed with a variety of authors and illustrators. And I have to take a moment to shout out to my pal and local David Hopkins –( WE LOVE YOU DAVID) – creator and mastermind behind We’ve Never Met, Astronaut Dad, Antigone, Emily Edison and Karma Incorporated.
Now word comes this morning, thanks to Jeph Jacques, that both he will be in Austin this weekend for Webcomics Rampage at the Dragon’s Lair. The two meet and greets start at noon Dec 11-12th and will also feature webcomic author Danielle Corsetto of Girls With Slingshots – a favorite of Kurtz’s – and others.
Most, okay, some, of you know that my hubster and Best of Texas’ Geek Speak expert, Joshua, joined the Air Force. He completed Basic Military Training a couple of weeks ago at Lackland Air Force Base and then was immediately shipped to San Antonio Internation Airport at Oh-Three Hundred Hours. There he sat for a while, looking dapper in his ABUs, with American Idol Chris Allen and Allen’s band before beling flung through the air, courtesy of United Air and your tax dollars, towards San Francisco for training at the Defense Language Institute. After making the bus ride from San Francisco to Monterey – including a stop at In-n-Out Burger for his very first burger, Animal Style, natch- he’s finally settled in his dorm.
One of the things Josh misses most, after me of course, is his ongoing love affair with Zeus Comics on Lemmon in Dallas. So when the backpack Josh asked me to order for him arrived in the mail yesterday, I knew I couldn’t just send it to my Airman empty. This called for comic books…
I called Richard, owner of Zeus, yesterday and explained that since Josh has been unable to buy comics since March, could he pretty please put together everything to date Josh has missed out on since he’s been in the arms of the Air Force… Richard gladly obliged me and put together a package of comic book and graphic novel goodness that would make my Josh squee with appreciation and ‘My Wife is Awesome-ness’.
While talking with Richard I learned that he has quite the collection of other servicemen that are customers of Zeus Comics, which I totally give him mad props for. And, for the record, if your guy or gal is into to comics and you are afflicted with the opposite disorder – like I am – , not only will Richard and his staff totally make you look like a badass to your loved one, he’ll even bring you over to the dark side. Case in point: Since meeting Richard for the first time last year, he’s hooked me on the likes of Alan Moore, Brian Wood, Becky Cloonan, Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes.
Richard, thanks for being there for me and, more importantly, thanks for being there for our troops, including mine…
Gah, trying to whittle down three indie businesses in Dallas proper worthy of your 3/50 Project bucks is like trying to herd cats while wearing cement shoes! Full disclosure: I am friends and/or acquainted with everyone on the Dallas list, but I assure you, the friendships were formed after becoming a patron of these very deserving businesses!
I know for a fact that I’m leaving out several favorites of ours, so I encourage you to add your own in the comments. Remember, any business you link to in the comments will see an increase in their site ranking and traffic – so I encourage you to spread the love!
I would be remiss to not mention Zeus Comics. Many a Warr family dollar has been spent in Richard Neal’s hip little comic book store on Lemmon Ave. Opened somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 years ago, we asked Richard a while back about his inspiration for opening Zeus, “I discovered that there were multiple stores I was going to for different reasons. I’d go to this store for new releases, I’d go to this store for back issues, I’d go for this store for toys…So, I decided to open one that kind of encapsulated a lot of those elements.” Not only does Zeus buck the trend of a lot of chain retailers, they also support local artists – Tyson Summers just put the finishing touches on a mural he created for the store’s stockroom door – he also carries the work of many local and Texas-based comic book artists and writers like David Hopkins’ Astronaut Dad and more, Scott Kurtz of PVP fame, James O’Barr creator of the Crow, Matt Sturges writer of Blue Beetle and Jack of Fables, and Kristian Donaldson of Supermarket and DMZ. Also, be sure to checkout their webisode series, The Variants, which gives a humorous twist on the goings on of running a comic shop a la Clerks.
Another local place chock full of Texas’ independent spirit is Frank Campagna’s Kettle Art in Deep Ellum. Spending your 3/50 Project dollars here means pulling triple duty when it comes to supporting local artisans, causes and a culturally relevant neighborhood in need of serious support. Again, many a Warr dollar has been spent on the local artists who call Kettle Art home. From the works of Richard Ross and the aforementioned Tyson Summers, to tattoo artists trying their hand at art and graffiti ‘criminals’, installation artists, photographers, Frank Campagna – an artist himself – acts as nurturer, deal broker and benefactor at Kettle Art. The prices, just like the mediums displayed, runs the gamut. From $25 prints to items in the $1k plus, Kettle Art makes art accessible to any budget and any taste. Frank also gets bonus points for volunteering his time and talents to creating and organizing the mural projects that adorn the buildings and sculptures dotting Deep Ellum.
Rounding out our top three picks for your 3/50 Project scrilla is Good Records on Lower Greenville. Though they have more press, accolades and love than you can shake a stick at, they deserve every music lover’s penny. Not only do Polyphonic Spree founder and Good Records owner Tim DeLaughter and GM Chris Penn, a.k.a. DJ CeePee, deserve the support, and then some, they’ve earned it. DeLaughter and Penn have created an oasis for local musicians, music lovers and more – and they don’t do it while looking down their noses all Rob Gordon style, either. Not only can you snag hard to find Harry Nilsson imports snuggling with the likes of Metallica, silent film DVDs hanging out with rock documentaries, you can buy signed, hand-screened posters of local, regional and statewide artists along with their CDs – think Midlake, St. Vincent, Sarah Jaffe, Pilotdrift, Red Monroe, Telegraph Canyon, Neon Indian, Black Joe Lewis, Avett Brothers and more. But it doesn’t stop there, they gladly promote shows throughout the Dallas, Denton and Fort Worth area, offer free in-store performances and stage outdoor birthday concerts with the likes of local Erica Badu, White Denim, Dove Hunter and The Crash That Took Me. Basically what we’re trying to say here is that 3/50 Project bucks spent here is a great way to support local music without having to stay out all night!
Hey everyone, I’m back with another Geek Speak to let you all know about special goings on at my favorite comic shop, Zeus Comics!
This Saturday, June 27th, the Eisner Award winning writer, Greg Rucka will be in from 10am to 6pm signing autographs and chatting with fans in honor of his latest run on Detective Comics featuring Batwoman (out yesterday – both literally and figuratively – she’s DC’s first high-profile lesbian character!). It must be a pretty daunting task, taking over Detective Comics, with a character that isn’t Batman (He’s been the main feature in Detective Comics since his first appearance in 1939) so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Knowing Mr. Rucka’s background (Wonderwoman, Batman, Wolverine, and his own creation, White Out – soon to be released as a feature film starring Kate Beckinsale) I’m sure it will be a great run.
You can find out more information here!
This Saturday is National Free Comic Book Day. In preparation for the events of this Saturday I sat down with Richard Neal, Owner of Zeus Comics & Toys to see what inspired him to start up one of the best comic book stores in the nation and to see what kind of festivities he has planned for NFCBD.
Geek Speak: Tell me a bit about Zeus Comics, what got you to want to open up your own comic book store?
Zeus: Zeus comics is 8 ½ years old, we opened back in July of 2000. We first opened up on Oaklawn in the Turtlecreek Village Shopping Center but that is getting a major renovation, the building we were in is getting torn down so we’ve moved to Lemon Avenue. It’s a lot more visible space for us. For me, what I discovered, because I was a comic book collector before the store opened up. I discovered that there were multiple stores I was going to for different reasons. I’d go to this store for new releases, I’d go to this store for back issues, I’d go for this store for toys, I’d go to this store because they had a better selection of new releases… It was just, you know… My weekend jaunt would be spending 6 hours going to different comic book shops finding what I wanted. So, I decided to open one that kind of encapsulated a lot of those elements. The other thing is that I thought was common among all of them was that they were of fairly poor design. They hadn’t changed. You looked around and you’d see some innovated retailers like FAO Schwartz or then at the time Warner Bros Store that were very, very sophisticated and yet the comic book shop still looked fairly the same. Just cardboard boxes on tables and wire racks, and I thought, you know what we’ve all grown up now; we’re all professionals, we’re all in IS, we’re all in creative, we’re all in graphic design, we’re all computer programmers… The comic book stores need to look like what we would normally shop at not just because they have comic books but something sophisticated that would appeal to all of us.
GS: That does seem to be the trend these days with newer stores going for a more aesthetic approach as well but I was up in Amarillo and it was just racks with no music and your typical “Comic Book Guy” behind the counter. Are you trying to buck the trend of “Comic Book Guy Worse Issue Ever” kind of guy?
Zeus: Hah ha hah, well yeah, comic book stores have been getting a wrap. You have the Comic Book Guy off of The Simpsons and it becomes this stereo type and this stereo type exists I guess because there is a little bit of truth in it but it gives everyone else this bad feeling because they assume that is what a comic book shop is like when that isn’t necessarily the case. Definitely by tricking out the store and making it more sophisticated it you can appeal to more people. One of our biggest sellers is the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book and a lot of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans have been coming into Zeus to pick it up and I think our aesthetic makes it a lot more comfortable for people who are not use to going to comic book stores. They can walk in here and feel relaxed and I like that.
GS: What are you looking forward to coming up most in the comic book world?
Zeus: For me right now it’s DC Comics’ summer event of Green Lantern, The Blackest Night. It’s something that they have been building for this last 3 or 4 years and it’s this phenomenal concept that there is more lanterns out there than just the green ones. There are yellow which is fear and orange which is avarice (greed) and so forth. And it’s being well written. It’s being written by one of their best writers, Geoff Johns.
GS: I saw that you won a Will Eisner Award. How did that come about?
Zeus: Oh yeah! In 2006 we won the Will Eisner Spirit of Retail Award. Our good friend David Hopkins, who you’re familiar with, there are these forms where you can nominate a store for the Will Eisner award and one year David got together and actually filled it out. I think he made it a part of a class assignment – I could have that wrong – but he made it a part of a class assignment so they go this nomination for the store and they sent us this packet in the mail and we made a five minute video which is up on YouTube and made a nice presentation about the store and what we do and what we do different. We went to San Diego with 10 other stores to see if anybody would win and we won!
GS: I was wondering how that could come about, if you would need to do a big national campaign for your store or a smear campaign against Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash…
Zeus: Well one of the great things about the Spirit award is that you can only win it once. It’s like a lifetime award. That way one store can’t continue to get it every year and lock it up. This way somebody different can be spotlighted each year, it’s a great system. We’re the only store in Texas to ever win it and usually its stores on the coast so it was great to bring the award here.
GS: That’s really impressive. Tell me about Free Comic Book Day.
Zeus: Free Comic Book Day is a national event. It’s been going on for….This would be the sixth year. Basically the publishers offer us certain titles at a heavily discounted rate for the hopes for us to buy them and then give them away. So the free comic book days… the misconception is that free comic books are not free to the retailer so that is why you see a mix level of participation from retailer to retailer. Not everybody jumps full on board, some people just do a limited number some limit the number of whatever. So we’ve been participating for each year that they’ve been doing it. This year we have a few guests such as: Scott Kurtz of PVP Online, James O’Barr creator of the Crow, Matt Sturges writer of Blue Beetle and Jack of Fables, and Kristian Donaldson of Supermarket and DMZ and we’re giving out 4,000 of the free comics and it’s from 10-6 on Saturday (May 2nd)
GS: What kind of crowd are you expecting?
Zeus: I don’t know, we’ve definitely thrown bigger Free Comic Book Day events in the past where we’ve had a few thousand people show up so since we’re doing something a little bit smaller this year inside the store as appose to out of the park I don’t know if we’re just going to get over run or if we’re just going to open up a case of beer and have a good time. Hopefully both!
GS: What would you recommend for parents who don’t know anything about comic books looking to purchase something for their kids to get them into reading?
Zeus: DC does a line of comic books based off of their animated series. Such as Batman: The Brave and the Bold, there is a comic book based on that. Marvel does a line called Marvel Adventures that has super heroes involved. You have the more traditional Betty and Veronica and Archie’s. One of my favorite books, however, is a book by Brian Vaughn, who is currently a writer on Lost, and it’s about a group of kids who discover their parents are super villains and how they handle that. It’s very kid-centric so the kids can get into it and have this fantasy of “Oh what if my parents aren’t who they say they are.” Boost Studios just picked up the Disney/Pixar license so they will be releasing original stories with The Incredibles, Toy Story, Finding Nemo and so forth. They also picked up the license for The Muppet Show so they have some comics out that are very, very good. Surprisingly.
GS: That’s good because I know comic books aren’t quite as tame as parents might remember them, GI Joe over there isn’t exactly explaining that “Knowing is half the battle” anymore.
Zeus: We definitely separate our comic books from what would be, 4 o’clock TV and what would be 6 o’clock TV. So that when parents come in there is a safe place to go and just pick up The Incredibles, Archie, Marvel Adventure Spiderman… and so on.
Join Zeus comics this Saturday from 10-6 for Free Comic Book Day at 4411 Lemmon Ave
Dallas, TX 75219. Visit www.zeuscomics.com to see the latest releases and to hold any new releases you are wanting to get before you get there!
April 18-19: Sci-Fi Expo Richardson Civic Center, Richardson, TX
Special Guests include Michael Hogan from Battlestar Galactica, Bill Mumy from Lost In Space, and Joanna Cassidy from Blade runner.
Mark your calendars friends, Sci Fi Expos are coming to town!
August 15-16: Dallas Comic Con Richardson Civic Center, Richardson, TX
Too soon to know who will be at this expo
October 24-25: STAR WARS Fan Days III Plano Center, Plano, TX
All things Star Wars! Expect just about everyone involved with Star Wars who is either not named Lucas or has no more than two lines spoken by themselves in the final cut. (I feel sorta bad for Ray Park and David Prowse, but those accents just aren’t that Menacing for your rolls)
Also, special announcement!
Zeus Comics has some passes for a screening of the new Star Trek movie on April 21st! Well, they did, the promoter just called and the screening has been cancelled. Damn it!
Amanda likes to point out that I dropped the ball by not writing about the All-Con event last week. Well to keep that from happening again this week, I’m doing a preemptive strike with things I heard going on this weekend that any fellow comic nerd would enjoy.
This Friday the DMA’s Late Night Art Bytes will focus on comic books and Technology. There will be several tech savvy comic creators there to share their work and have a little Q & A…Those scheduled to attend are: David Hopkins, Kristian Donaldson, Jake Ekiss, Matthew Warlick, and Vinh-Luan Luu
Dallas Museum of Art – Tech Lab, Center for Creative Connections
1717 N. Harwood St. Dallas, TX 75201
9:30 – 10:30 p.m
$10 General Admission (parking not included)
On Saturday, Heroes4Heroes and ArtLoveMagic will host a night of live art and music at Poor David’s Pub. Artists will have original art and prints for sale at the show. Featured artists will be Mitch Breitweiser (Captain America, Hulk, Fantastic Four) and Eric ‘Ebas’ Basaldua (Witchblade/Devi, Darkness, Tomb Raider).
Heroes4Heroes Live Art Show
Poor David’s Pub
1313 South Lamar St., Dallas, Texas 75215
7:00pm – 11:00pm
$5 at the door (parking not included)
All money earned will benefit Heroes4Heroes, a non-profit organization that provides comics, DVDs, and other portable media to U.S. soldiers stationed around the world.
And on top of all that Zeus Comics is offering up 35% off all toys, statues, back-issues, and graphic novels through Tuesday March 24th.
So have at it!
P.S. Thanks to David Hopkins for making me aware of said goings ons.