Back In Style

Each and every one of us has an enduring fondness for the things of our younger years.

There are whole markets out there dedicated to dealing in items of nostalgia.

The comic world is no different. The industry’s publishers put out more than just new comics every week. Sharing the shelves with all the monthly titles are hardcover editions, trade paperbacks and all the other ways back issues get repackaged.

We need this, of course. Some comics have been around for decades. Others can be hard to find even just months after they were printed. That’s where collected editions come in.

What caught my eye this past month, though, wasn’t anything extremely old or really recent that’s getting repackaged. Instead I noticed a cavalcade of seminal books from my teenage years will soon return to store shelves.

Read on, friends. There’s info galore in this month’s collected edition-themed installment of “Nerding Out.”


Keeping up to date with everything current in the comic book world can be cumbersome at times.

Thankfully, when I’ve had my fill of The New 52, I can reach for a graphic novel as a sort of palette cleanser.

Recently, I picked up the first installment of “Preacher,” a Vertigo series from the mid-to-late 1990s. I got the book on sale at Books Galore in Erie and found a few more of the trade paperbacks on sale locally.

I’ve written before about Vertigo’s comic books.

I was big into Vertigo in my teenage years. At some point in the ’90s, I made the switch from reading Marvel and DC stuff about superheroes to reading exclusively Vertigo’s horror and fantasy stuff.

It was through Vertigo that DC gave us series such as “Sandman,” “Swamp Thing,” “Hellblazer,” “Preacher” and so many others. Some have been collected in graphic novel form throughout the years, but some haven’t – and still others are about to receive new editions.

Take a look at the Vertigo site, you’ll see that just this past month the publisher put out a first-volume collection of “Lucifer,” the “Sandman” spin-off series by Mike Carey, who now writes “The Unwritten.”

Coming up this month, Vertigo will re-publish the first 12 issues of writer Garth Ennis’ “Preacher” series in a new graphic novel collection. Then comes “The Annotated Sandman Vol. 3,” and in July we’ll get an omnibus of Grant Morrison’s run on “Animal Man.” That’s right. All 26 issues of Grant Morrison’s run on the forward-thinking mature content superhero title will be collected into one $75 dollar comic book.

My pennies aren’t going to stretch far enough this summer.

Add to that the beautiful-looking new version of Neil Gaiman’s “Black Orchid” and oddball stuff like “Beware The Creeper,” I might not even have time for the movies! Lock me up in a room with an A.C. unit and I’ll be set.


There’s more to comic books than just the comic books themselves.

More and more it seems that books are coming out chronicling certain segments of the industry, from rockstar writers to historical periods in the history of the medium.

Now out from TwoMorrows Publishing, readers interested in an overview of comics as they fit into our American society can pick up “The American Comic Book Chronicles.”

Based in North Carolina, TwoMorrows has at least two volumes of the series available, with more info online at First there’s the 1960-64 installment, which gives a year-by-year account of that Beatles-era and how the medium of comics was more than just a hot trend. The full-color hardcover touches on such milestones as the Green Lantern and Hawkman of the era as well as the Justice League of America and Marvel’s Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men and Avengers.

Also available from TwoMorrows is the 1980s installment of the series, which touches on that recent resurgence of the industry, focusing on the likes of Jim Shooter, Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman and so many others. This was the decade of the Direct Market. Publishers like Eclipse Comics, Pacific Comics, First Comics, Comico, Dark Horse and so man others found space on store shelves. And, of course, as I love most, Vertigo, Vertigo, Vertigo!


It seems like every few months there’s another person who stumbles upon the find of a lifetime.

This time around it was a construction worker who was renovating a house in Minnesota. The New York resident came across a copy of Action Comics No. 1 from 1938, the book which gave us the character Superman.

According to news reports, the comic had sat undisturbed in the ceiling of a house for more than 70 years. A few days after it was found, the construction worker got into a bit of a back-and-forth with his wife’s aunt about its value.

In the end, the book suffered a tear as a result of the bickering. According to the construction worker, every time his wife’s aunt would turn a page, crumbs of paper would fall out.

On a 10-point scale, the book ranked only a 1.5. However, it is still expected to bring in at least $100,000. Bidding for the book will close on June 11. Not all that long ago, a copy of the same comic sold for $2.16 million – though that copy was graded a 9.

The co-owner of New York’s online auction house, ComicConnect, called the rip the book suffered a “$75,000 tear.”

“I knew it was worth money,” the construction worker told the StarTribune. “But I had no idea how much.”



June’s here already?

And the new Superman movie, “Man of Steel”?

Feels like we were waiting for that third Bat film from Christopher Nolan for practically forever. And now here’s Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel.” Some of us still haven’t properly processed “Iron Man 3,” let alone seen “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

Man, things are rolling right along.

For as close as the movie is, there’s one thing that’s actually closer – June 12 is Superman Day. According to comic sites online, DC’s going to be giving away the first issue of “All-Sar Superman” by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, as it’s said that scenes from the comic turn up in the new movie. Guess we’ll just have to wait to see.


Keeping with the “Collected Editions” theme of this month’s column, what Marvel superhero just had a trade paperback published with the title “My Own Worst Enemy.” Skip to the “Assorted Etceteras” section at the end of this month’s column for the answer.


Last month I wrote about Free Comic Book Day.

As a follow-up, I figured I’d mention the news that this year’s Free Comic Book Day set a record for fan attendance, with more than 1.2 million people turning out at participating retailers.

According to Diamond Comic Distributors, an estimated 1.2 million fans went to the 2,000 participating shops and picked up 4.6 million free comics, generating $2.2 million in publicity along the way.

I like Free Comic Book Day. It’s a great way to turn people on to comic books. It brings people into all the participating local shops throughout the country.

One thought, though – I’d love to see something a little more along the lines of Record Store Day. Now, granted, all the publishers in the industry do put out special comics for Free Comic Book Day. However, on Record Store Day, shops also sell unique new items and re-releases put out specifically for the event. Free comic books are great, but I’d surely pay for a limited-edition “Sandman” re-release with a new Dave McKean cover or something.

Like I said. Just an idea. Just a thought. I know Free Comic Book Day’s main attraction is the fact that it’s “free,” so shoehorning in some high-priced limited-edition books surely goes against that driving principal of it.

Still, even as a secondary attraction, I think some collectors would happily pay for some specialty stuff – just as record collectors do on Record Store Day.


The San Diego Comic-Con is only a month away.

Get your Twitter accounts and other social media news feeds ready, as they’ll soon be inundated with news from all the regular nerd-centric sources.

Nerding Out publishes one more time before Comic-Con gets underway. Check back here next month for more comic book blather and geek speculation before the heavyweights in the industry hit us with a bunch of breaking news.

More from me in a month’s time. But first, in answer to this month’s trivia question: Spider-Man is the Marvel superhero who just had a trade paperback published under the title: “My Own Worst Enemy.” The new book collects the first five issues of Dan Slott’s new “Superior Spider-Man” series.

Nerding Out With Nick Dean is a monthly column about comic books, movies and more. For more, visit Nerding Out With Nick