By Beau Smith

For our recent anniversary, Beth got me an iPad. As most of you regular “Knuckleheads” know, I’m a voracious reader. I still manage to read one to two books a week. This is an addiction that was passed down to me through my mom, she too was always reading. I like to be surrounded by books as Beth can testify, perhaps too many she’ll add.

My personal library boasts about 10,000 hardcovers. That’s not counting comic books and comic book trade paperbacks. Yes, I’m a book store’s (new or used) best friend. Needless to say, when Amazon’s Kindle and the other various e-book readers came out, I was interested. I waited and researched as much as I could to see if this was going to be water I wanted to wade in. I know I bugged the crap out of my friends Ted Adams and Chris Ryall at IDW Publishing and artist Serigo Cariello with my questions. They are all gadgets guys as well as heavy readers, and are first to pick up new devices that come out of the tech tube. DC co-honcho and artist, Jim Lee is probably the king gadget freak. As long as I’ve known Jim, he has always jumped into the deep end of the tech pool as soon as it was open. I would’ve bugged Jim with my questions, but he’s a little hard to get a hold of these days. He lives on Twitter. Instead for my iPad info I talked to fellow comic book creators, Jimmy Palmiotti and Brandon Peterson. Brandon was really helpful and cleared a lot of my questions up. The boy knows his tech.

I was interested in the iPad as a book reader. I liked the idea and I liked the looks. The larger screen (9.7 inches) and color were huge draws for me. I’ve hauled around my laptop for years, from the early concrete block versions to my current, fairly light Apple G4. I also liked what I read about the battery life of the iPad. I was not disappointed.

The iPad is better than I dreamed and does so much more. Yeah, it costs more than the Kindle and its other e-book companions, but they don’t really do all the extra stuff that the iPad does. For me, it’s well worth the extra money to get one. If you travel a lot, the iPad really pays off. I’ve been waiting for something like this going back to the 1980s when I would get on a plane with a few magazines, a book, a Sony Walkman (cassette version) as well as all my work stuff. The 1.5 pound iPad is a breeze compared to my old traveling gypsy packed briefcase. Unless you have some seriously heavy work with spreadsheets, word processing and such, then leave the laptop at home and get with the iPad.

I usually found that I got little comic book writing done on the convention trail anyway because as you all know, conventions are chaos and any downtime you get you either wanna sober up or sleep. The iPad does most everything my iPhone does, except for being a phone and taking pictures. It was easy to operate and the bigger, brighter screen makes my eyes thank me over and over. I like being able to see and send my email on the iPad as opposed to my iPhone. Doing it on the smaller phone is good when that’s the only device you’re hauling around, but the iPad, like Rhona Mitra, sure makes it easier on the eyes.

Everyone will get Apps (Applications) that best fit what they need and like to do. I’m not a game player, so that part of what an iPad can do doesn’t interest me. Reading books was my first order and the iPad makes it a real pleasure. The selection from the iBooks store is good and will get better and better as the weeks go by. I picked up the Apple PAGES App to do some minor word processing if I need to. I’ll tell you what, here’s a list of the Apps I’ve downloaded so far:

  • iBooks. I love it. I like having my own bookstore and personal library with me at all times.
  • Indiebound. A wonderful bookstore and book hunting app that I use a lot.
  • Pandora. Online radio that caters to what I like and not the crap I don’t.
  • Sports Tap. A great sports app that gives me scores, news and updates on all sports and customized to what I like. Best of all, No Jim Rome talking to me.
  • WeatherBug. I’m a weather freak. I’m outside a lot and this keeps me from getting my hair wet. Great app and I check it all the time.
  • What’s On?. It’s my own TV Guide, and, again, is customized to what I wanna know.
  • Book Search. The name pretty much says it all. Another app so I can hunt down books I wanna find and find out about news ones I may wanna read.
  • Comics. Yeah, I had to have a comic book reader. That was a must. Comics look great on the iPad. Granted, I don’t download a lot, but when I travel, I grab a few to read as a treat like cake after a steak dinner. A lot of the comics are priced at $1.99 which also keeps me from downloading a lot. I think .99 cents is the right price. I don’t see me reading my regular monthly comics here, but to try a new book out it’s perfect.
  • Public Radio. I can pick up a lot of really good college stations here. Book reviews and interviews with interesting people. I pass on most of the biased news stuff.
  • WebMD. I’m into health. This makes me feel smart. I also like to figure out what makes me better looking than my brothers.
  • Pages. As mentioned before, it’s word processing lite and it does have lots of cool, creative stuff that I use.
  • AP (Associated Press) News quick and easy.
  • USA Today. News and a very well displayed app made just for the iPad.
  • Wall Street Journal. News I care about and more. Great display.
  • Twitterific. My Twitter page so I can keep up with the horrible and crude things Jimmy Palmiotti, Chris Ryall and Terry Moore post.
  • Digits. An amazing calculator that I use every day. Remember, you’re talking to the guy that flunked math grades 7 through 11.
  • IMDB. (Internet Movie DataBase) I love this on my desktop and I love it on my iPad. As a film and TV buff, I could spend days looking up stuff.
  • Notepad Pro. What a great App! I can type notes, draw notes record audio and send it all in emails plus so much more. I really like this app.
  • iBookshelf. An incredible app that was made just for me (at least I like to think so. It’s all about me as my mom used to always say.) With this app I can look up books, inventory my personal library, input my book want list and so much more. The entry system is hooked into the isbn database. It’s like having a spotter and a scope on a sniper rifle. Nothing escapes me. When in book stores I just haul my iPad out and I have access to everything to not only help me spend money?.but spend it wisely. The organization factor is huge for a clutter monkey like myself. I need as much order as I can get. I highly recommend this app.

In case you were wondering, as I did, I thought the touch screen keyboard might be a typing problem, after all, it’s close to being the size of my wireless keyboard, but not quite. Well, I found the touch screen keyboard to be surprisingly good. Especially when I fold back my Apple iPad case to the typing slant. I have had no problems at all. The auto spelling correction system also takes care of my typos when I type really fast. Like I said, it was made for me. Now I can’t promise that if you have hands the size of Chuck Dixon’s Wookie paws, that it’ll be a walk in the park, but if you have delicate, small school girl hands like Billy Tucci, then you’ll have it made.

Please know that I’m not stoked just because it’s something new. I did my research and found that the iPad is really geared towards the way I entertain myself and the way I work. Back in the day, I was a huge fan and user of the Apple Newton Message Pad. I used mine for many years, in fact, long after they quit making them. It was great for my contacts, for scribbling and for keeping my book lists. I used to dream about being able to read books on a device like that. Now, many years later, I can. By the way, my Message Pad still works like the day I bought it.

This being an opinion column – my opinion – I know that I’m prone to lean my way and my way of thinking. (Remember, it’s all about me.) That being a fact, I know that I didn’t give you all the nuts and bolts about the iPad, so I’m giving you a couple of review links that may help fill in the gaps.


I hope this helps in your own personal quest to see if the iPad is for you or not. As a reader, I love it. It won’t take the place of comics, but it’s a great steering wheel that will take non-traditional readers to the world of comics. Don’t believe those people that tell you it’s going to kill print comics and close down direct market comic stores, it’s not. Look back in history, when television came out there were those that thought it would kill the movies. They were wrong too. Let me know how your quest goes.

Back To Back-Back Issues

I’m a devout fan of TwoMorrows Publishing. They consist of John Morrow, Michael Eury, the TwoMorrows staff and all the great writers that they have working for them. These guys are writing the history books and magazines of comics. I always find the best interviews, unpublished artwork and behind the scenes history of comic books within their printed pages. Recently, in back to back issues of Back Isssue #41 and #42 we were all treated to some very special “themed” issues.

Back Issue #41 was their “Red, White, And Blue” issue. It dealt with an All-American slant of heroes and villains and how various creators dealt with the fighting side of the United States. Unlike TV news, this wasn’t biased to the left wing or the right, it was straight forward facts with personal opinions from the creators themselves.

Speaking of creators, this issue touched on the talents of Howard Chaykin, Roger Stern, John Byrne, Len Wein, Cary Bates, Marty Pasko, Roy Thomas, Gene Colan, J.M. DeMatteis, George Perez, Mike Zeck, and so many more.

The articles in this issue were great. Here are just a few:

  • Beyond Capes: American Flagg Unfurled
  • Flashback: Contest Of Champions
  • Pro2Pro: The Sensational New Wonder Woman
  • Flashback: Captain America-Home For A Hero
  • Flashback: Whatever Happened To The Sentinel Of Liberty-Captain America
  • Bring On The Bad Guys: The Red Skull

Plus a whole lot more, over 75 pages worth with black and white art and a beautiful color section.

Back Issue #42 is their “Wild West” issue. This was a big hit with me, I love the western genre and pride myself on being an old west historian of sorts. (remember, I have all the books.)

Issue #42 starts out with a shotgun blast article on Jonah Hex with a must read interview with Michael Fleisher. Fleisher is the writer that truly put Jonah Hex on the map. He did for the western comic what he also did for super heroes on his run of The Spectre, he made things interesting. Fleisher’s interviews are rare;, he’s outspoken and always has something interesting to say. Writer Michael Browning does a bang up job interviewing Fleisher here. Something you don’t want to miss.

Other western comic book characters covered in this issue: The Vigilante, Two-Gun Kid, Bat Lash, El Diablo, Firehair, Sclaphunter, Gost Rider, Charlton Comics’ western heroes, Rawhide Kid, one of my favorites, Red Wolf AND a great capper for the issue, The Savage Future Of Timothy Truman’s Scout. Some of you may know that it was Tim Truman that gave me my break into comics back in the 1980s, and he did it by letting me become a writer and a character within the pages of Scout and the Scout universe?Beau LaDuke-Real Man!

It was a really wonderful time for me then as I broke into comics with my lifetime amigos, Chuck Dixon, Flint Henry, Gary Kwapisz, Ben Dunn, John Ostrander, Todd Fox, Graham Nolan and some other buddies that are lucky they’re not in jail. Writer Roger Ash made us all look and sound good in this article that deals with the history of Scout, a post apocalyptic western in the modern world. This brought back incredible memories for me from our days working at Eclipse Comics for Dean Mullaney and Cat Yronwode. The convention road trips where all of us would share the same hotel room were that of creative legend. Something that I hope other young creators get a chance to share today. So many stories and ideas were thought up in those rooms.

Getting back to my point, seek out Back Issue #41 and #42, you’ll have hours of reading pleasure. Tell them Beau LaDuke sent you.

The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide: History In Your Hands

There are three days in particular that I look forward to every year with “little boy enthusiasm”, Christmas, my birthday and the release of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. Well, it’s not Christmas or my birthday yet, (Those are in December, start your early shopping) but the 40th Anniversary Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide is out and it’s the best one yet.

This year there are three beautiful and unique covers to the Overstreet Price Guide: Batman by artist and painter Mark Chiarello, Captain America by Darwyn Cooke and the now sold out Conan The Barbarian/Hero Initiative Edition by John Romita, Jr., Klaus Janson and Dean White. (after Barry Windsor-Smith)

My personal favorite is the Captain America cover by Darwyn Cooke. Darwyn is one of my all-time favorite artists and his version of Captain America jumps from the battle scene cover like it was alive.

As I mentioned in the above section on TwoMorrows and Back Issue, there is a true history of comic books and I am always stressing to younger readers and comic book creators to get to KNOW that history. The Overstreet Price Guide is a wonderful textbook for your to study that history. The information in this 1100-plus page book will give your not just hours of reading, but months worth. The art and covers that are packed into this book are eye popping. The knowledge you’ll receive is an education on its own, one that you will benefit from.

Bob Overstreet and his lovely wife, Carol are two of the nicest folks you will ever meet. If you know them, then you also know how much they love comic books. It shows in their life and it shows in their work. There’s never a time when I get the chance to talk to Bob that I don’t become a 16 year old teenager with his first Overstreet Price Guide in his hands. I get the same feeling when I’m with Stan Lee. I appreciate the people they are and the history they represent.

There’s another reason I have such great affection and respect for Bob, He’s a fellow West Virginian. That’s right, Bob was born right here in wild, wonderful West Virigina! Please make the time to read this great interview with Bob by Jeff Vaughn at SCOOP. It’s a great read.

The Overstreet Price Guide goes way beyond just letting you know how much your comic collection is worth. It’s printed respect for the comic book hobby and all those that have come before and those that will carry on. Seek it out, buy it, read it.

Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: Journey Into Mystery: The Mighty Thor #118
Cover Art by Jack Kirby

With all the talk and leaked movie trailer to the Thor movie going around, I thought It’d only be right for me to pick out one of the manliest Thor covers from the series. In 1965, Jack Kirby, drew up a true slobberknocker of a cover with Thor and the Destroyer serving up knuckle sandwiches for lunch. I remember the day I bought this issue as a kid like it was yesterday. I found it in the spinner rack of the Tradewell Supermarket in the Westmoreland area of Huntington, West Virginia. I snatched up fast. I knew with a cover like that there had to be a real brawl waiting for me inside. I was right.

In case you haven’t heard, the Destroyer is going to be in the Thor movie! I saw the trailer and it looks fantastic. Even though the movie doesn’t come out until next year, I hope this cover will tide you over until 2011 when this fight comes to a movie house near you.

Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Piper Perabo

I’m a big fan of the original series that are shown on The USA Network: Burn Notice, Royal Pains, White Collar, and now Covert Affairs.

is a fun, new “Blue Skies” series that USA has just put on the screen. As you can tell by the title, there are spies and they are all out to best each other. Piper Perabo is the star of the series. You’ve seen her in lots of films before this such as Coyote Ugly, The Cave (a favorite monster movie of mine), Cheaper by the Dozen and The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle. Perabo is now at the age ? 34 – where actors and actresses start to get really interesting, experience and talent starts to equal their good looks, it really is a win/win situation for all. The leggy blonde adds a perfect amount of humor and grit with this role as a CIA field agent that can speak a bunch of languages and drive really well. Each episode her character gains more knowledge on how to do her job as well with her brains, a gun and using her problem solving ability in unique ways. Her superiors see this and put her in the field because they know it’ll flourish there.

Check out Covert Affairs and Piper Perabo.

The Roundup

This episode of Busted Knuckles has been a big one. I had a lot to say (suprprise) and you guys seem to listen, so I went overboard a little.

Before I let you go, I just wanted to remind you that your local U.S. Post Office has possibly the greatest stamps ever for sale right now?COWBOYS OF THE SILVER SCREEN. I got mine to send off on my letters, you may wanna do the same. On a single sheet of stamps you get: Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, William S. Hart, and Gene Autry. The art is beautiful and these will look great on a letter delivered to someone you like. Don’t waste one on bill collectors. Send those creeps a boring Forever stamp.

Keep those emails, cards, letters and expensive gifts a-coming.

Your amigo,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch

Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!

About The Author


Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin