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My local comic book store is dead.

by Anthony Feinman

A few months back (September 2016), I stopped going to my local comic book store. It was by choice but more out of necessity. My car of 14 years was on it last legs and Julie and I needed to invest in a new one. So, in order to save up, I stopped buying my current titles. That didn’t mean that I stopped reading. It  just meant I stop buying. For a little while. Car are expensive!  I needed the extra funds  to go towards the down payment. If I had been younger, I would have moped and groaned that I couldn’t get my fix of what was going on in my hero’s worlds. However, these days since I am older and theoretically more sophisticated, I knew that I would eventually get back over to Acme (my local store here in the Bloomington/Normal area) and finish completing my collections. I gave it no mind. Let’s jump ahead a few months now…

Two of my closest friends decided to come down and visit us before Christmas. As I was working until early evening, they decided to come down early and visit my local comic book “watering” hole. Upon getting off work and meeting with them later, they informed me that Acme was no longer in business but had been taken over by a company that has a big market in the comic book stores up north in the Chicago area, Graham Crackers. My friend Andy complained that instead of spending hundreds of dollars, he e\was only able to spend $50. A huge downgrade for him. I was shocked! Not at the spending of $50 (or hundreds for that matter) but at the change in the store’s ownership. When did this happen? I had no idea that from the time I took a comic hiatus till Christmas my comic book store world had changed! I remember raising one eyebrow at this news (much like Spock from Star Trek) and thinking I should get over there and check out the changes. The boys (what I affectionately call my two closest friends) commented that all the cool action figures were gone and the merchandise had been greatly reduced. All during dinner, in the back of my mind, I thought I needed to get over there. Fast forward to January 9th, 2017…

I had a Monday off and Julie and I decided to try to go check out the newly acquired comic book store. No dice. They did not open on Monday. My thinking is that the owner must be related to Garfield. They must hate Mondays. We did put our greasy paws and noses up against the store windows to look inside the dark and unoccupied store. It looked like the layout had been changed. There was now a wood floor. That was pretty much all I noticed…

On a Saturday, January 14th, 2017, Julie and I finally made it over to our local comic book store. We first had lunch at the Jimmy Johns (some swell veg sandwiches) before walking half a block over to the newly changed store. I say newly as it is was still new to me even though the ownership could have changed the day after my last visit in September. As this point I will never know or care. We walked in and I felt like I was walking into a wannabe comic book store. Gone were the independents. Gone were the all the cool action figures and unique t-shirts. Gone were comic book companies like Dark Horse, Dynamite, BOOM. Gone were the endless books of back issues going back to the Silver Age of Comics. Gone was the Jim, the store owner who use to have to endure listening to fans ask him stupid questions about his thoughts on the latest movie adaptation or the latest run of some new comic book story line. And gone was my happiness. I can never walk into this store again and find my missing issue(s) of The Shadow. I will never again be able to walk into this store and find a rare hidden gem of something unique! The only comics this store now carried are from DC or Marvel only! BORING! My local comic book has died.

I will no longer be supporting the local economy. All my comic funds will be diverted out of town in either Peoria IL, somewhere up north or online. Graham Crackers. You suck.

The End.

 

MAX HAMM Fairy Tale Detective

maxham-l
Cover 1-4 of Max Hamm

Reviewed by Anthony Feinman
02/10/07

Frank Cammuso’s Max Hamm is nothing short of a great series. Currently available in four volumes or as a compilation, I can’t stress how much fun these stories are. On a chance encounter of a Chicago Comicon several years back, I picked these up from Mr. Cammuso based solely on the cover. Look at the cover to the right. Doesn’t that beg to be picked up?

I went back to our table and set them aside to read at a later time. One of my buddies happened to pick up my copies and began to peruse my newly purchased items. I started to hear an occasional chuckle and then laughter. It seems my chance encounter yielded good results! I asked my buddy what he thought of them and clearly stated, “Read these books. Now!” Such a forceful demand required me to take my mind off of monitoring the table to view the first volume. My command to anyone reading this is to get these books and read them. Now!

A combination of the retelling of the old nursery rhymes and comic book art done a tongue and cheek way pulls you into tales of Detective Max Hamm’s world in Storybookland. Think of it as Sam Spade solving murder mysteries with a giggle. The material is clearly designed for a young audience but appeals to fans of the 1930’s mystery genre as well as a common observer. I highly recommend these works to one and all!

The first volume, The Big Sleep, is an introduction to Max Hamm and the characters that populate this world. It begins with a client, Bo Peep, hiring Hamm and his partner Humpty Dumpty to investigate the kidnapping of sheep. Dumpty ends up being murdered while following a lead. It just takes off from there with the puns and humor and does not stop. Your giggling won’t stop either.

The next three volumes begin a story arch called, The Long Ever After, with each book as a chapter of the story. And with chapter titles of The Seven Deadly Sins, The Glass Slipper, and The Magic Mirror, the reader is thrown into a conspiracy of murder, mystery and betrayal with, of course, the surprise ending.

Cammuso started his books as independents but successfully is now distributed through Scholastic Inc. which means that anyone can now purchase them through a big named book retailer such as Barnes and Noble or Borders. Your local comic book store probably stocks them as well. He has even signed a deal with them for a new series slated for release in the near future. But for now, if you want the Max Hamm series in a complete volume or individually separate and signed, visit his online store at: www.cammuso.com

Because our fans DEMANDED it!

A few short weeks ago, IF Comics released Anthony and Myke’s The Magic Press and Other Critter Stories as a e-book digital download exclusively on Amazon.com. (Check it out here.) It did pretty well in sales it’s first week BUT that was not enough for our fans. They wanted a PRINT edition! It’s nice to know that there are still readers and book collectors out there that like to have their literature still tangible!

So in response to Facebook fan outcry, Anthony started working on re-paginating a print edition for sale. After a couple weeks, he finally completed the task!

A sneak peak at the full spread cover for the print edition of The Magic Press
A sneak peak at the full spread cover for the print edition of The Magic Press

The Magic Press is immediately available for order for $5.99 plus shipping and handling from CreateSpace.com (Click here to order.) Roughly 5-7 days from the date of this blog release, it will also be available through retail outlets such as Amazon.com as well as ANY book store retailer through special order. A few days after that, it will be available overseas in Europe through Create Space’s  distribution.

“This edition is only slightly different from the eBook edition” says Anthony. “We (Ink and Feathers Comics) have always done a print edition of a book. It’s only been the last half year that we just started digitizing our inventory for digital distribution. As I am a starving artist, I thought I would give a “ebook only” release for The Magic Press. I keep forgetting that a lot of our fan base are still traditionalists and like to have tangible books. I did intend to print a print edition later this year (late this Spring). However, our fans just couldn’t wait. IF Comics is not a traditional publisher so we can do whatever we want in terms of printing or deadlines. Plus, I’m huge on customer service and aims to please.”

This “dead tree” version also sports two extra things not available in the eBook edition. One, a back over with a full colored version of one of THE CRITTERS strips done by Anthony (which can be see from the image above) and two, an extra Halloween image with Millennium Bear (Leni) telling the viewing audience that she taught the monster from the Blue Lagoon to rise out of a lake with a Halloween greeting.

“A little extra treat for those that wanted a “real” book and a small thanks for your support”, comments Anthony.

The Magic PressThe print edition of The Magic Press is an 6×9, 48 paged full colored cover with black and white interiors. It is priced at $5.99 not including shipping and handling.

To obtain your copy, please visit: The Magic Press

If any fans would like to PRE-ORDER a SIGNED copy directly from Ink and Feathers Comics, CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW!

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The price for each copy is $5.99 and shipping is only $5.50 for 1-20 copies.
That’s right! A flat shipping for single or multiple copies!

(Up to twenty. Any more, please contact us first for accurate price quote. Price is for Domestic USA orders only. International order, please contact us directly via private messaging on our FACEBOOK page or email us at: nerwonduh@hotmail.com for price quote for shipping/handling.)

As this is a new publication, expect your copy(s) to be sent out in about two weeks. We will notify your by email when they are being sent out complete with tracking information. We will also include a WHOLE bunch of SWAG at no extra cost! SWEET DEAL, HUH?!

For more back story on this book’s origins, please visit our previous blog: The Magic Press returns to Print

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The Magic Press returns to print!

The Magic PressThanks to the advent of digital publishing, The Magic Press can now be seen by a larger audience.

Back in 2009 while Anthony was attending SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), he put together a short little comic book for one of his class assignments. He was required to come up with some characters and then to do a short comic book story for a final assignment. As Anthony was bogged down with five other classes (all wanting a final project) he decided to cheat. Well, sort of.

He had already been playing with the idea of using some of his toy stuffed animals as a starting point but he wasn’t finding the right voice for them. He still wasn’t too sure what to even call his  cast of characters. (Somewhere in the past half decade, he came up with the name THE CRITTERS.) As he struggled to come up a storyline, his mind turned to stories that he remembered from his youth. He had created some fantasy stories for various grammar or high school assignment but none of them seem to fit into THIS particular assignment. Somewhere in his ideal brain, he happened to remember a story that Myke, his father, had once told him, at a young age, when he was home from school due to an illness.  Myke had written down the story in a journal many years before but since decades had past, it had been long forgotten. Anthony, remembering where the story was stored, took a trip to his parent’s house and secretly scanned the pages to be transcribed at a later date. Anthony spent a few days trying to dis-cypher  his father’s handwriting and finalized a working script. After a few weeks of illustrating, Anthony paginated a 10+ page comic book and turned into one of his final projects. Copies were spread on SAIC’s campus and one copy is now viewable in their artist’s library BUT not many outside of immediate family or SAIC’s community have ever viewed this story. Now finally after five years, this short story is made public.

“I’ve always intended to print this story again when I had the chance.”, states Anthony. “I figured now would good time to get it “out there”. I’ve done several more things since then with THE CRITTERS in hopes of having enough material to put together. A few months ago, I was going through copies of my old original work and there it was. I read over it again and realized that the art wasn’t TOO bad. Especially since I was trying to finish it in a short amount of time. It felt like such a shame that it may never see the light of day again.”

Another issue that Anthony feared was his lettering for the story.

“As I was rushing to reach my deadline of a final project which also required me to print it for circulation, my penmanship, in terms of lettering, started to degrade towards the last few pages. I was rushing. My only excuse was my deadline.”

Anthony decided to re-do the lettering digitally for The Magic Press. It is the only story in this new volume that has digital lettering.

Digital lettering version of page two verses Anthony's original hand lettering.
Digital lettering version of page two verses Anthony’s original hand lettering.

“I wanted to make sure it was readable as the whole story is very important to me. Not only is it a part of my memory as a child/adolescent, but the publication also had special meaning as I made it for my father as a 50th birthday gift. Unfortunately, he got his copy a year late. ”

The gesture was no less dear when Myke finally received a copy much to his surprise.

Anthony added, “Many comic book aficionados may complain that the lettering causes a distraction now as it looks slightly off from the rest of the art. I believe my original lettering would have been more distracting if you couldn’t read what was going on. I tend to favor original hand lettering over digital especially when it comes to indie or my own art. But I think it works. It’s not perfect as my original word balloons are smaller/larger to compensate for my crappy lettering. But if the reader is only focusing on my lettering  and that is the only thing that they can comment on and NOT the story after they finish, then why even bother reading? ”

Anthony, after leaving SAIC to pursue freelance work, tried a few comic strips and did to more short stories with the cast of THE CRITTERS. They have been posted on his personal Facebook page as well as an online comic through Comic Fury.com. However, with the release of this version of The Magic Press subtitled And Other Critter Stories, they are all now collected together for the first time.

“I may, at a later date, print a “dead tree” version but for now I want to see if a following forms for these little guys. If so, there may be more adventures on the way.”

The Magic PressThe Magic Press is currently available on Amazon.com for digital download to your Kindle or PC/MAC computer/tablet. It features Anthony’s adaptation of Myke Feinman’s short story, The Magic Press plus two other short comic adventures, F.A.S.C. (Free Associated Sequential Comic) and It Happened Halloween Night. It also includes several comic strips , a few one paged two paneled jokes and a couple of pinups. The cover depicts The Magic Press‘s main character of Charlie, an eighty year old newspaper bear who runs his own print shop and newspaper in Depression Era Midwest. It is a children’s comic book/graphic novel and is suitable for all ages. (May have the word “crap” in a few times though.)

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It’s hip to be square.

Comics are a big deal these days. Everywhere we look, pop culture tees, advertisement, both print, video and digital media, are bombarding the general populace. Plus, 2013 marks the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the best known super hero of all time, Superman. Of course, there have been other large milestones that have gone unnoticed. Characters like The Shadow and Doc Savage and other pulp heroes that spawned the current popular comic stars reached that 75th mark ages ago. But, in their own way, they were celebrated by the fans that cared. Dynamite Entertainment, just a few short years ago, obtained the rights to start printing The Shadow in comic form again which has been a huge success. So much in fact that the character has been guest starring in their other titles (Masks, Noir, The Shadow verses Grendel) and expanded the series into other ongoing books. Hence, the rights to Doc Savage were also obtained with a new series hitting comic book stores in December 2013. Sweet time for comic book fans to be introduced to the original characters! All this and more as the nerds and geeks have come to age to take over ruling the world. Businesses are jumping on the band wagon and commissioning their designers to make “comic book work” related advertising. Pop culture is very flush throughout our world. But how long with this resurgence last?

In the early to mid-nineties,  the comic book industry took a big hit due to distribution technicalities. We won’t go into too many details as anything dealing with the history can be easily Googled. The lapse in bad judgement actually caused Marvel (the company that owns The X-Men, Spiderman, Thor, Avengers, ect) to declare bankruptcy and needed a boost from a toy company. Small comic book stores around the county had to close their doors as the bottom began to fall out. Comic book companies soon had to deal with a monopoly of one company, Diamond, handling all the distribution. Magazine companies (Wizard) began buying up pop culture conventions and then raising the prices for vendors to sell their wares as well as fans to enter through their doors with grandiose promises of getting their favorite actors, artists, and writers to attend. A balloon that seemed to have over expanded itself was deflating. Strange how things have changed in the past two decades. Or have they?

Diamond is still the major distributor for comic books and pop culture memorabilia (boosting that sales have been increasing of late, See Diamond Reports), Wizard still holds the market for the largest comic book conventions throughout the country and fans are still being gauged to not only attend but dish out not $1.00 for single issues of their favorites comic books two decades ago but $3.99 or more. Have things really gotten better for the nerds or all we all just deluding ourselves into thinking it’s okay? And to add salt to the wound, digital comics seem to be OUT SELLING their print editions and the comic book companies are making their comic book print editions OBSOLETE by releasing trade paper back editions of a collected series almost IMMEDIATELY after the series hits comic books stands. What’s really going on behind the scenes and why aren’t more people crying “wolf’? Because, it’s all about making the biggest profit. It use to be about producing good work. Don’t get us wrong, there are some great titles coming out with phenomenal art and stories. Of course, these people want to get paid a decent wage for their time and effort. We know that business is business and the whole point of being in business is to make profit. But how far do you need to go so you can edge out the fans that are just starting? (See Who Knew?)

It’s hip to be square in 2013 with comics now available instantaneously via your android phone, tablet, desktop or laptop computer. Sure it seems print sales are picking up, at least according to Diamond with them now allowing comic book stores to return unsold issues. This new news is actually a good thing for small comic book shop owners who are now contending with surplus and overstock of unsold comics.  What we here at IF Comics want to know is how long with this new balloon last? Will the sales still see a rise after another ten years or will the fad fade again as it has done in the past. When will the general public be bored with new television series like Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, Constantine, Gotham Central, Arrow, Flash, ect.? When is the shiny new penny going to wear out it’s shine and become tarnished by the new schmuck who wants it all? We hope the high keeps rising but we also hope that the people behind the scenes don’t pull the wool over their fans eyes and over saturate them too much. We’re already seeing it happen and it’s happening fast. Perhaps a little too fast. All for the love of money, merchandising, and fans?

We’ll be at Collector Con on Sunday!

Collector Con AdIt’s been years since we have done more than three shows in a year. However, for some reason, 2013 seems to be the year to get things started. With Anthony working on a new comic book compilation (not for IF Comics but we will be letting everyone know when it’s released. We have heard it will hopefully be published before Christmas) things may start picking up for more book signings again in the coming years. For the meantime, come by and visit us at Kankakee County Fairgrounds this upcoming Sunday on October 13, 2013. The whole Ink and Feathers gang will be onsite from CEO Cathy Feinman, President and comic creator Myke Feinman, and Graphic Designer Anthony Feinman.

Some of Anthony's artist cards celebrating 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who
Some of Anthony’s artist cards celebrating 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who

All books are still available (some in extremely limited quantities) plus Anthony will have artist cards for sale for $1! Great chance to get some books signed by REAL artists/creators PLUS some original art for an EXTREMELY cheap price. Toys, various comic vendors, and other collectables will be available for the discriminating collector.

We hope to see everyone there!

Fan Ink and Feathers Comics on Facebook to keep up to date on the latest information about signings, book sales, and latest publications! Or just fans to drop us a line. We like talking with our fans! 🙂

Reviews. Are they a good thing?

Depending on what kind of writer/artist you are, you do it for a reason, right? Whether you want to inform the public on some subject matter or you practice your craft as a outlet, you ultimately make the decision on whether it’s meant to be seen. So if you publish your work anywhere, online or in print, you are hoping for someone to respond. The viewer makes the decision as to whether they wish to look or not. Are we ready for the truth? Of course, before anyone can review anything, it first must be seen.

Reviews can make or break any medium. Remember when the movie Borat hit theaters? The movie bombed so fast before it was even in the theaters one weekend due to reviews being posted on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. We, the people, control what we like and dislike by telling the general public what we think. So how advantageous is it to leave a review without knowing what you are talking about?

A recent friend to IF Comics just released a first non-fiction book through Amazon.com less than a month ago. This person choose a single day to run a free promo day in hopes of getting people interested in the subject matter as well as receive feedback. I am not privy to how many people downloaded on that particular day but I do know at least one person (maybe) downloaded the book by leaving a review. The review wasn’t about the book or its contents. They were responding to the book being free and that fact that when they learned about the free day, they went to Amazon to download only to find that the promo was over. For this particular reason, they left a feedback rating of “1”. They did this for nineteen different books all of different genres. What’s the point? Why even bother taking the time? And our graphic designer can’t even get a paying client to respond to his emails?! (See If you can’t communicate…) You have time to pull up almost twenty different websites, type your “review and post under you own name. What does this say about us as consumers? To us it says this individual is cheap, slightly a loser, and has too much time on their hands. Perhaps you should spend your time on doing something constructive like actually reading things that YOU WANT TO READ. It seems that this person forgot that they have a choice. This person choose to be an immature, irresponsible, whining nobody. Kudos though for leaving your ACTUAL name in the review. That took guts.

What about the publishing companies that advertise for paid reviews? Is this logical or realistic? It’s deceitful and manipulative to think that people can not see beyond the reality. All one has to do is compare the book sample as well as what the reviewers are actually saying to be able to read between the lines. Did we not all take reading comprehension in Grammer school?

Real reviews are important for everything. They let everyone know the truth about a product good or bad. It is our belief that everyone should log off of Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin to stop whining about how so and so is a schmuck, and take 3-4 minutes out of your precious free time to comment on your true opinion about the clothes you just bought and its quality, the novel that you actually bought or whatever as you felt it was worth your hard earned dollars. This should also be true for the things that you were given for free. Write an honest review of what you thought. We think it’s only fair. Don’t you? Was it worth the time and effort for this to be made public? Do the right thing and let everyone know the truth. Is it good or bad? Stop whining, get out of your little isolated world, and join the human race by participating like a civilized person. Utilize the tools that have been set before you and speak your mind in a logical fashion. Or do you like broadcasting to the the entire world that your ignorant and cheap?