By Beau Smith
It’s Monday. In a few of days it’ll be Christmas. This week’s column is gonna be my own little Christmas Special. Most of the topics here are gonna be semi-Christmas related, so roast your chestnuts by the fire, slam down some nogg and pretend you’re my demented little elf.
I don’t know where you live, but around here, at The Flying Fist Ranch in West Virginia, it’s been lookin’ a lot like Christmas as of late. We’ve had snow, snow showers, and snow flurries. It’s been really beautiful around here. The town has all the holiday decorations up, there is holiday music in the air? ‘things are good.
I always enjoy this time of year. The month of December is a special month for me. My birthday is in December as well as a few of my very close amigos. Including my best friend Crabtree. His birthday and mine are just three days apart. At one point during the week before Christmas, we force our two sons, to join us for a manly lunch where words of iron are spoken. In other words they sit and bust me and Crab’s chops for bein’ older than dirt. If ya ever see our boys you’ll notice that the back of their pointy heads are flat? where we smack em’ from time to time.
I’ve gotta say that this December has been even more special for me. It just seems that a lot of really nice things have happened. The kinda things you can’t predict? ‘they just come along and happen. When that happens? ‘ya sit back, grin and be real thankful.
Best Christmas Comic: JSA #55, from DC Comics. Written by Geoff Johns with art by Leonard Kirk, Keith Champagne and good ol’ Wade Von Grawbadger. Edited by Peter Tomasi and Stephen Wacker.
Fellas, THIS is what writing comics is all about. I’ve told ya in past columns that so few writers take the time to really write characters and give em’ personalities that ya can count on every month. It’s obvious to me that Geoff Johns is not one of those slackers.
Geoff has written a tight, entertaining Christmas story that has all three acts. It’s got action, humor, some sweet emotions, and just enough tuggin’ at the heart-strings to make ya feel good. Not good enough to put on a skirt or flit around actin’ like ya saw Mona Lisa Smile? and liked it? nope. This is a classic showcase for anyone that wants to be a writer, thinks they’re a writer, or collects a check and says their a writer.
The first page has great character defining dialogue:
THE FLASH: Do you have to bring that mace EVERYWHERE?
When I read that I thought I’d died and gone where the beer is always cold, free and one of those babes from the Spanish channel was servin’ it to me.
It just got better from there. In case ya didn’t know, I used to write the character Wildcat / Ted Grant for DC with my buddy Chuck Dixon. In two mini-series? Batman / Wildcat and Catwoman / Wildcat, as well as some other Wildcat stories thrown here and there. I can say, without braggin’, that nobody knew that character like me. That was until Geoff Johns. I’m gonna search my family tree to make sure Geoff isn’t some cousin of mine. If he’s not? ‘he should be.
He writes Wildcat the way he is supposed to be written. Same goes for the other older JSA guys. Geoff nails it like a Black & Decker P210 cordless nail gun.
The art is wonderful the coloring is great? there’s a wonderful twist to the story. I’m not gonna go into details because the comic has already been reviewed here at Silver Bullet Comics and ya should check it out. You should also go out and buy this comic. Wouldn’t hurt for ya to write DC and tell em’ ya want more stories like this instead of that endless snooze-a-thon book called the JLA. Ya know? that book where you can learn to put readers to sleep by making great characters talk really boring. All done without the use of drugs! Although to be fair I’ve gotta say that issue #90 is a step in the right direction.
Credit where credit is due. When I called Geoff to tell him that I thought that issue was great he told me that the funny dialogue on the cover was done by Peter Tomasi. So I called Peter up and gave him a tip of the hat as well. Read the issue.
Santa Claus Is A Cowboy:
Come on? Ya knew that didn’t ya? Look at the facts. The guy wear boots, he never shaves. He has four legged animals haul his ass around. He always wears the same clothes? just like they did on Bonanza and most other TV Westerns of the 50s and 60s.
He’s got a ranch at the Noth Pole. There he has a bunch of really short ranch hands workin’ the place for him. He’s got himself a fine woman that cooks stuff for him and fixes the holes in those socks that he wears all year round. She never complains that he’s out all night seein’ things most guys only dream about. He must love beer – he didn’t get that gut by drinkin’ some crummy British tea. He’s always laughin’ real loud after he’s snuck into your house while you were sleepin’. Where do ya think that reindeer poop on your porch came from? The guy is a real practical joker.
Speakin’ of practical jokes and sneakin’ in your house? who do ya think took those home videos of Paris Hilton and Pamela Lee Anderson? Ho? Ho? HO!
Speakin’ of Ho, Ho, Ho! That’s just short for a cowboy “Howdy!”
So in a few days when ya hear those hooves on your roof and somebody rustlin’ around in your fridge gettin’ your beer? fear not? it’s Cowboy Santa! Yippi-Yi-Yaaaay!
Beau’s Christmas List Of Naughty and Nice:
Naughty and Should Be Spanked:
- Spawn: You’re not supposed to beat a dead horse? so why keep beatin’ a dead book?
Vertigo: Aww, maybe I’m being too rough. After all? ‘.girls have to have comics to read, too.
Wonder Woman: Well? ok? I’m lyin’? I just wanted to spank Wonder Woman.
Batman: One of the most boring characters in comics. If the character has been around for over 60 years that kinda’ explains why he acts like he hasn’t been able to take a dump for the last 50. Maybe that’s why he’s cranky. Gettin’ laid now and then might help as well.
Elfquest: Like I said? Elfquest.
Namor: Can you say say, “sex change.” The only thing missin’ from Namor now is a poodle skirt and ankle socks. This guy went from being the alpha male of attitude to “Nancy Boy -The Sub-Mariner.”
CrossGen: What do ya know? just like a late night infomercial they were able to shed all those ugly pounds of fat! Just a few more pounds to go?
Future Comics: I love the 80s! Oh? I thought you were talkin’ about the VH1 show.
Manga and Anime: Would somebody just poke my eyes out?
Nice Stuff That Should Be Bought and Supported Like A Push Up Bra:
- Fantastic Four: Waid and Wieringo. This is what a modern super hero book is supposed to read and look like. I hope the editor leaves em’ alone.
Bruce Jones: ‘Bout time the comics world learned that this guy can write. Ya want a real true gem? Dig up his old issues of Ka-Zar. Action and romance at it’s best. Also some of Ron Frenz’s best art.
Amazing Spider-Man: Another book that shows how a modern super-hero book should be written and drawn. This book really captures the way Stan, Ditko and Romita, Sr. did it right. I can’t recommend it enough.
Adam and Andy Kubert: Pick up any book these boys do. You will never be let down? even if the writer stinks, the art will always be worth the cover price. We just gotta find a way of gettin’ away from all these British writers.
Geoff Johns: I’m gonna have my mom see about adoptin’ him in the Smith clan. If Geoff is writin’ you WILL enjoy it.
Chuck Dixon: He’s back doin’ work at DC. It’s like gettin’ drunk without a hangover. Ya have all the fun and don’t feel bad.
Superman / Batman-World’s Finest: Two very boring icons done right and made exciting. The rest of ya? move to the front of the class and pay attention! Ya might learn something here.
Hawaiian Dick (Image Comics): Flawless book. Fits a hole that no one else can squeeze into. You will not be sorry if ya buy this.
Danger Girl: It doesn’t break any new ground with writing, but it’s beautiful, fun and just like Chili Cheese Fritos, ya can’t stop at just one handful.
Strangers In Paradise: Well written with an art style that you can’t help for lovin’. This is the smart girl ya dated in high school that ended up bein’ worth more than three drunk cheerleaders. Terry Moore is a real man that can write women. The rest of you dinks can learn from “Texas” Terry Moore.
Mark Schultz and Art Adams: Other “hot” artists should beg these guys to trade em’ for chewin’ gum to the other convicts. True masters at what they do. No egos. Not much hair either?
Archie Comics: Now and then ya need to breath some fresh unspoiled air. A very good line to flush all that highbrow stuff out of your system. Pass em’ on to a kid when you’re finished.
IDW Publishing: I work there. I need my job. Buy everything and double your order if I wrote it. Lemme see the hands of those that want me to come live with em’ if I lose this job? Yeah? that’s what I thought?
Marvel: Just In Time For Christmas:
I guess some of ya read about Marvel raising the prices of their news stand comics by like 75 cents. Well? that’s not a big a deal as one might think. Ya see the mass-market newsstand sales is still a very screwed up thing. With returns, usually months after the book has been out there, as well as all the hoops ya gotta just through to get space and slots and so on? it’s not much worth it. Oh, yeah? it can be an ego stroke to a corporation to tell other folks in business that ya got your books in (Fill In The Blank) stores through out the country or the world. People have been known to sell companies for that kinda crap. It helps when selling ads in books. Ya tell em’ that your books will be seen by (Make Up Your Number Here) of consumers. The list goes on and it bores me.
Will this 75 cent raise help them out in the mass market book stores? Yeah, a little. Will it make them money in the long run? Nope. But it’ll make a nice band-aid to stop some of the bleeding. Now, if Marvel were to raise their prices in the direct market? then yeah? you better pay attention. With deep discounts and no returns, Marvel is gonna make some extra cash.
If the quality is there in a comic book, and I mean format matching content, then I think the market can support a higher cover price. But you damn well better make sure it really is an upgrade. Ya just can’t smear lipstick on the same ol’ pig and tell me it looks pretty. That’s why I’m always tellin’ folks to really read and look at the comic they’re buyin’. Make sure it’s worth that cover price.
Be a smart buyer, not a zombie.
Little Christmas Gifts: I wanna thank all of ya out there that have been sendin’ me your comics? either the ones ya did yourself or the ones from the other publishers. That’s right nice of ya. Now just because the folks at Silver Bullet Comics were drunk enough to offer me this column doesn’t mean I really do reviews. Granted, when I read something and I think others need to know about, you can bet I sing a song for it here. But for the most part I don’t do reviews. I just wanted to thank you guys for takin’ the time to send the books to me. I do appreciate it and have answered most with personal letters and emails lettin’ know what I thought about the books. So, I just wanted to say in public? “Thank you!”
A real big thanks goes out to Calvin Luther? a reader from the University of Texas. He is datin’ one of the cheerleaders there and sent me a very nice photo of her? Now that I can review!
Thank you, Calvin? You are the man!
A tip of the cowboy hat goes out to Jason Wong in Toronto, Canada for sending me an assortment of Grizzly Beer coasters and a very cool Grizzly Beer sign. I’ve got em’ adorning the office here at the Flying Fist Ranch and they look great! For those of you poor souls that didn’t know? Grizzly Beer was the best beer to ever come out of Canada. It was the beer that bit back! Loved the stuff. Then they broke my heart when they went out of business. A very sad day. I really loved those green bottles of joy.
Shameless Self Promoting: Wynonna Earp:
Ok? if all goes right? you will have the first issue of Wynonna Earp: Home On The Strange #1 (IDW Publishing) in the stores this Wednesday. Christmas Eve. I’m pretty stoked about it. It’s got drama, humor, action, disgruntled zombie mailmen, and that special “Beau” touch that all the ladies seem to be drawn to. I expect to hear of all of ya runnin’ to the store to buy it? not steal it. I also wanna hear that you’ll be back for the next 2 issues as well. I need your support. If ya don’t back me then more of those crummy British writers are gonna suck up more jobs from real Americans. Can you live with that? I hope not. Anyway? it’ll be there. So I hope ya buy it, enjoy it and keep me workin’.
Merry Christmas? Happy Holidays? Seasons Greetings? and whatever:
I really do wish that y’all have a wonderful holiday, Christmas, or whatever ya celebrate. I hope that ya can find it in your hearts to think about others for a little while and maybe even do that all year round. Things could always be worse, but you can always make em’ better.
Try not to give into to those that like to just spout off all the bad things in life. Tellin’ people what ya don’t like is all too easy. Anybody can bitch like an unhappy, spoiled punk. It takes a real man?and a real woman to compliment somebody and to share a favor to those that really need it.
Now I’m not tryin’ to tug at your heart-strings? nope? I’m tuggin’ on those big ol monkey ears ya got. You be good to somebody. You use those ears to listen to someone else’s woes and worries. Then ya roll up your sleeves and see about helpin’ em’ out a little.
Turn a deaf ear to those that whine and bitch about stuff they don’t wanna do anything about. These guys aren’t gonna work. They’re just lookin’ for someone else to blame and another pretty picture to throw their crap on. You ain’t got time for these clowns.
Know this? when Christmas Eve comes around this week, at the stroke of midnight (Eastern Standard Time) I’ll be here at the Flying Fist Ranch with a very cold beer in my hand, ‘sittin’ in front of the Christmas tree? and I’ll be toastin’ you, amigos. It’ll go out to all of you that love comic books and support em’.
It’ll be for all the friends that I have met in the last 17 years while in this business. It’ll be for all the kind folks that have shook my hand and said howdy to me at a show. This’ll be one beer we’ll all share together. (Man? that’s a lot of lips on mine.)
The second toast will be for someone very special. Gettin’ to know you has been most fortuitous for this ol’ cowboy.
Now y’all go out and have yourself a real nice holiday!
Beau Ho HO! Ridin’ Shotgun For Santa,
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507
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