EXCELSIOR

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Stan Lee (1922-2018)
It was announced today that Stan Lee, Marvel Legend, co-creator of Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and several of The Avengers, including Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, and Falcon as well as Black Panther and Doctor Strange, passed away today at the age of 95, just about eighteen months after his beloved wife, Joan, passed away.

In 2010, he started the non-profit Stan Lee Foundation, which seeks to provide literacy, education, and the arts throughout the United States.

This past weekend, our family was watching Teen Titans Go to the Movies, and we were surprised and delighted to see a cameo from Stan Lee despite this being a DC production. Stan Lee worked at times in his long career for both DC and Marvel, but his long relationship with Marvel is primarily what fans recall. He was also a veteran of World War II, serving in the Signal Corps and the Army Training Film Division. He was inducted into the Signal Corps Association last year (2017). 

We always looked forward to his cameos in the recent Marvel films, and can’t wait to see the next two that are already finished or in post-production.

Stan Lee, may his memory be a blessing.

Free Comic Book Day – A Preview Before the Big Day

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​Comic books – the bane and the blessing in our home. My middle son is a kindred spirit to my husband, taking on the mantle of collector, organizer, and archiver. My husband doesn’t even know which comics to buy anymore. Middle guy makes the list and if he had the cash, he’d be able to go himself. He points out gifts for everyone and looks forward to payday so we can go down to the capital and buy this week’s stash.

This translates into an entire industry of movies, action figures, and Lego. We could open our own store and never buy anything new to stock it. Unlike most collectors, they believe in playing with their toys; not keeping them boxed up in pristine condition. There is always something strewn about the living room in need of a pick up.

In just three days will be the biggest comic weekend of the year. Free Comic Book Day. This is the fifteenth year, and it is held annually on the first Saturday in May.

The basic premise is that there is a comic book for everybody. Although in our family I read the least amount of comic books, as a child and young person, I read comic books often. Star Trek, Green Arrow. My husband gave me a signed Sandman as a gift early in our relationship. For parents who are concerned about appropriateness, the FCBD website has an age rating system you can check out for yourself, and make the paternal decisions for your families.

It is also the opening weekend of (typically) a Marvel movie. This year’s selection is Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.2. Vol. 1 was one of the best surprises I had. I had no intention of seeing that first one until it came out on DVD, but it happened to be the only one playing on our anniversary, so we went. It was really the best! The perfect blend of humor and humanity and an awesome soundtrack. It was full of surprises and unexpected moments. I can’t wait for this new one. The first Saturday in May has become our tradition to see the movie after our Free Comic Book Day adventures.

We pick up my son’s friend, wear an appropriate comic related tee shirt (I will be wearing my Supernatural this year), get up extra early and head down. Our comic store is located centrally in our state capital on a busy street and they get many rubberneckers looking at the superheroes holding the advertising signs in front of the store. They used to start the day at 11, but now they open at 9. We begin the line around 8 or 8:30, meeting other fans and early risers. It is usually still very cold on this May morning. Layers are they key because the inside of the comic shop gets pretty warm.

There is a selection of free comics for everyone who comes – there is something for everyone’s tastes – guaranteed. last year I picked up Representative John Lewis’ first of the trilogy called March about the March across the Pettis bridge where he was beaten to the point nearly to death. I always grab the book from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). Scooby Doo shares space with The Walking Dead. There is a photo contest, sometimes free Hero Clix, amazing donuts for sale (similar to Portland’s Voodoo Donuts), stickers, pins, and costumed characters. Last year we met Harley Quinn; this year Wonder Woman will be there in advance of her June movie – one of the ones in a slew of good movies we’re anticipating and looking forward to. I even have  Wonder Woman earrings especially for the occasion. Artist John Hebert is there signing free drawings and selling more.

After that, we will sometimes make the rounds at other area comic shops. In the next county over, one always has pizza and cupcakes. Several have costumed characters and local writers and artists selling their things and signing autographs. One year, my kids sat in the actual Batmobile from the 1966 television series! It’s a great day to meet other like minded fans, collectors, and kids.

To find your local comic store, call the Comic Shop Locator at 1-888-266-4226 or visit their website.

To find a shop participating in Free Comic Book Day, check out their website

The Post Office, Part 1

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Starting at the top, clockwise: Lapel pin of America Responds stamp, Ornament commemorating 100 Years of Letters to Santa through the US Postal Service, America Responds stamp sheet, Harvey Milk stamp sheet, plastic mailbox to hold stamps or Valentine’s. (c)2016

Starting at the Top, clockwise: Baseball Sluggers, Sunday Funnies, Star Wars, Disney Magic, Super Heroes Chapter Two, Animals, Super Heroes Chapter One, Disney Romance, Star Trek. (c)2016

Instagramming Across May

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When I first heard about Instagram, I thought, oh no, not another social media thingy. But once I began to use it, I really enjoyed it. Especially the way I can post directly from it to my Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Because those two latter ones are more anonymous than my FB, I do need to be careful not to post any identifying information or at least to be aware of it when I do.

In getting my new smartphone, I’ve discovered that its camera is better than my camera-camera and my Kindle camera and having 4G that actually works is the bonus, so I’ve been using it more lately. I also love the way the layout on multiple pictures looks. It lets me be creative and really use my imagination.

This May has been incredibly busy as you’ve read in the posts I’ve made and in the lack of posts I haven’t made. But I have managed to make Instagram posts because they are just so easy to upload.

I wanted to share them with you.

As a writer, I hate the saying, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Rough Riders

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I’ve been following Aftershock Comics for awhile now. They’re a new comic publisher co-founded by my friend’s brother. Mike Marts has previously edited over at Marvel and DC. I was excited to see this new venture of his and publisher, Joe Pruett.

I immediately signed onto their Facebook, and saw this come up on my feed at the same time my middle son was begging me to read some comic books with him.

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I asked my friend if Adam Glass, the writer credited on the cover was the same Adam Glass who’s writing I’ve loved for so long on the CW’s Supernatural, and was given a resounding YES! My family was so excited to buy me a comic book that we immediately popped over to our local comic shop on Sunday afternoon as soon as church ended, and picked up a copy.

My son seems to think this is my first comic book. It’s not. When I was a kid, I read Green Arrow, Star Trek, and even own a collector’s copy of the Death of Superman. One of my husband’s first gifts to me while we were dating was a signed copy of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

In issue 1 of Rough Riders, we meet Teddy Roosevelt and Jack Johnson. By the end of this introduction, they’re on their way to add Harry Houdini to their group. Yes, my ridiculously meta self checked and all of the principals on the cover were alive at the time of the date on the cover – 1898. I think there is a bit of a time travel, but I’m not sure as it’s only just begun.

History, Steampunk, and Adam Glass….what could go wrong?!

Collections

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There’s the largest ball of twine and dryer lint, Coke bottles, and spectacles, but for most people collecting is a little more subdued. For each of us collectors we all have our origin stories, how we began collecting our treasures, our first whatever. We get all excited and starry eyed talking about our things and hope in our reverie that our audience’s eyes haven’t glazed over while they go over their shopping list in their heads.

For me, I’ve had several collections over the years for a multitude of reasons. When I did historical re-enactment, I collected all manner of books on the Middle Ages: art, children’s history, fiction. When I was a teacher, I collected children’s cooks. I’m always on the lookout for Jewish stories for children. After my first visit to Wales. I’ve collected both history books and travel ones. Books are big in our family. My husband and middle son collect comic books (and action figures). My daughter’s love is fashion – reading about it, wearing it, and designing it.

When I travel, I still collect pins and postcards and foreign money, especially coins, and ask friends to collect it for me since I travel so infrequently. I also collect griffins and pewter pieces.

My mother collected stamps. My brother has her collection, and she started getting my son some when he was a baby, like dinosaurs, comic strips, super heroes, etc. We still do that, but we’re more selective as they relate to our interests (Batman, Star Wars, and the like. I recently bought a sheet of Harvey Milk.) There is something for everyone.

I have a couple of church friends who collect Mary (the Blessed Mother) statues from their world travels.

In an informal poll on my Facebook, I was surprised by the diversity of people’s collections, some I’d heard of, but many I had not even considered. Demographically speaking, not including myself, respondents were ten female and two male, ages between 21 and 71. Orientation was evenly split for those that identify publicly and all but two were the same race. Most religious practices were unknown to me, but two are Jewish and five are practicing Christians with various degrees of devotion. All but one are college educated with four still in college. Jobs include administrative assistant, nurse/LPN, teacher, nanny, EMT, with two in the insurance industry.

Here is a rundown of the collections; maybe you’ll find one of your collections on this list:

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