A penny saved is ridiculous.

A penny saved is ridiculous.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fantastic old stories

I've been having a lot of fun with E-Bay lately, using it to reassemble different runs of comic books that I used to own in my younger days.  Pictured here are Fantastic Four numbers 196 through 200, originally published in the spring and summer of 1978 (click on the photo for a better look).  This five-issue storyline features one of the better Dr. Doom stories from that period, concluding with the double-sized issue number 200.

I was thinking of this story because of my disappointment with the recent Fantastic Four movie, which I thought was needlessly mediocre.  After seeing the movie, I had said to myself, "Why can't they just take inspiration from any number of great old FF epics from the last thirty years of comics storylines?  Kind of like the way the Marvel movies that Marvel actually controls (the Iron Man, Captain America, and Avengers movies, for example) do all the time?  And that's what got me thinking of this particular FF story, as Dr. Doom implements a particularly ambitious plan to both destroy his hated enemies and simultaneously assume control of the planet.

These issues originally cost 35 cents each back in the late 70's, except for the double-sized issue 200, which cost 60 cents.  That amounts to my paying two bucks for the whole epic back in the day.  Re-buying them in decent condition over the past month or so via different sellers on E-bay set me back about 25 bucks. A lot of that was postage, though. Still, it was nice to see that each comic book nicely appreciated in value (each one costing about three bucks minus postage), but happily not enough to make them prohibitive to buy now.

Anyway, the 25 bucks or so was actually not a lot of money to reassemble a bit of my youth, and I'm looking forward to buying a few more comics from the storylines I enjoyed as a teen.  And, yes, these five FF comics held up when I finally sat down to read them.  Many, many years after originally devouring them, I once again enjoyed a solid, entertaining story by writer Marv Wolfman and artists Keith Pollard and Joe Sinnott.

Hmmm, is it maybe time to look on E-Bay for some pages of original art from those comics, too?  They would look nice in some decent frames, hanging in a hallway or two.  I mean, who needs to eat, right?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Quick recommendation

The Intern, which we saw this past weekend, was an enjoyable, understated movie.  There were some light laughs and some light drama, and the movie didn't overstay its welcome.

It wasn't one of those broad comedies with all kinds of craziness or outlandish stuff going on (not that those can't be fun, too).  Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway are pros and set the right tone for this pleasant, gentle story about a senior citizen intern working at a hip and trendy online retail operation.  

Yes, the young people learn a lot from the older, wiser De Niro, and De Niro gets a new lease on life because of all the young energy and new ideas around him, but it's all done with a light touch and the movie even manages to work in a few surprises.

It's funny, though.  Knowing that they has De Niro on the film's payroll, the producers couldn't resist one over-the-top element: they actually worked in a heist sequence, with De Niro driving the getaway car!

Anyway, before you get all caught up in James Bond and Star Wars, you might want to give this graceful little American comedy a try.  I found it to be a nice appetizer for all the upcoming holiday blockbuster stuff, and you may, too. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Quite something

Jodi Taylor's The Nothing Girl isn't my usual type of book, but a discount offer caught my eye just when I was ready to start something new. Very quickly, I was glad I took a chance on it. The Nothing Girl is a fresh, fun story about a group of eccentrics thrown together in a small estate in the English countryside, with the quiet, insecure Jenny the centerpiece of the group. As the story progresses, Jenny soon learns that she isn't as quiet and insecure as she and the people around her had thought.

Jenny gains her gradual, new self awareness amid many entertaining episodes, including animal rescues, an arranged (and later, genuine?) romance, frequent intrigues involving Jenny's relatives, and even, in the later going, a genuine mystery. Oh, also on hand is Jenny's imaginary friend, Thomas the Horse, but this element is done with a light touch and doesn't overwhelm the proceedings with whimsy. In fact, for a golden, talking horse, Thomas lent a good bit of grit and sense to the story when he showed up.

I actually listened to the audiobook version of The Nothing Girl, which is beautifully read by Lucy Price-Lewis, but I'm sure the book would be equally enjoyable in print or on one's Kindle. Ms. Taylor wrote a great little story here, and I'm going to keep an eye out for more of her stuff.

"The Nothing Girl" is easily available in any of the formats mentioned above.