Monday, November 23, 2009

Teddy and the Yeti changes distributors; world does not explode

I'm sure there are plenty of quotes out there from others infinitely more famous than I am dealing with the subject of adversity and perseverance and persistence, so I'd like you, the reader, to take the time and find one, read it, reflect on it, and then come back to this posting.  It doesn't have to be from some stodgy reference manual like Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (though that is a good source, and I've got the 17th edition sitting on my bookshelf right now) - Google works just fine.  Anyway, let's take a few minutes, find a good, uplifting/conciliatory quote, and meet back here in a few minutes, okay?  Okay.


Are you finishe-oop, sorry, I'll wait a bit longer.


Ready?  Okay, good.

As the title suggests, Teddy and the Yeti has switched distributors from Diamond to Haven.  This is because Diamond has decided not to carry the title; the preorders were not to their liking and thus they went ahead and cancelled all orders placed, modest as they were.

Obviously, this creates a few issues, few of them good.  Diamond does not explain why titles are cancelled from their distribution list; retail shops simply get a letter or e-mail with a notice that the book will not ship.  When dealing with a brand new book from a brand new publishing company, such as Teddy and the Yeti, the invariable assumption is that the book was not completed or was egregiously different from the solicitation information.  Neither is true regarding Teddy and the Yeti #1, but in that regard, the damage has been done.

Additionally, those individual customers who did place orders will most likely just assume that the book was never completed, which discourages them from trying out not just Teddy and the Yeti but small press books in general, and that's a shame.  You've certainly got to be picky with books from small publishers, because the quality varies tremendously, but there are some great books out there to be read if you look for them.

Make no mistake, these are discouraging signals from Diamond, but it in no way means that you can't still get a copy of Teddy and the Yeti #1 (and subsequent issues, for that matter) if you want it - you may just have to search a little harder for it, and I hope that you, the comic book reader, will do that.

First, a few hours after being dropped by Diamond, I was contacted by the fine folks at Haven Distributors.  Haven, frankly, does not have the market share that Diamond does, but they are a solid #2 and a lot of successful companies have their books shipped by Haven, such as Top Shelf, Bongo (they publish the Simpsons and Futurama comics) and Viper (publisher of Teddy and the Yeti's first appearance in Josh Howard Presents: Sasquatch).  If your comic shop orders from Haven - and there's no reason it can't - you can get Teddy and the Yeti shipped to your pull folder just as you had before.  The order code is TEDYWAG001, and it should be listed on their online catalogue as I type this.

Second, I've done my best to create an actual online store where you can order the book directly from me...the guy who currently has nearly all of the books stored in his spare bedroom (let me tell you - that comic book ink smell, I'm convinced, will kill you if you stay in that room too long.  It's overwhelming).

I just ran a rudimentary test and everything is working fine, so you can order directly and save yourself some hassle.  I've lowered the price to $2.99, though shipping comes into play.  I tried to be as fair as possible when it comes to shipping, and I decided on $1.50 for up to five books, which is a total that probably won't be reached until there's at least the second issue up and ready to purchase.  It's still cheaper for you to buy the book from your local comic shop, but if there's no other way for you to get the comic, you can find it on the official website.

Third, I'll be contacting comic book stores directly, and I will be leaving copies of the book personally at whatever stores I can.  This increases the chance that I'll be doing more signings like the one I'm doing at the Century III New Dimension Comics in West Mifflin, PA, which in turn increases YOUR chance at meeting and, perhaps, assaulting me at your hometown comic shop.  Stores with big online shipping sections like Mile High Comics and Lone Star Comics are also on my hit list, so to speak, which should make things easier for everyone involved.

Fourth and lastly, I will be stepping up my convention schedule.  Originally I had planned on reserving a booth at 2010's New York Comic-Con to show off the book.  Now I'm trying to add Pittsburgh and the big show in San Diego to that list.  None of these shows are confirmed yet, but I'm going to give it the ol' McClelland try and see what happens.

I'd like to apologize to anyone who preordered Teddy and the Yeti #1 from Diamond.  I can sympathize with your frustration, to be sure.  I hope that you can see that I'm doing everything I can to make sure that the book is available to as wide an audience as possible, and if it comes down to it, dammit, send me and e-mail and I'll do what I can do mail you the book myself.  The book is complete, printed, and sitting in my house right now.  I will do my best to make sure it gets in stores so you can plunk down some cash for 32 pages of comic book goodness.

We'll see how that works out.

Friday, November 20, 2009

When will people realize you can't just lift up a manhole cover?

One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from famed director Alfred Hitchcock, who noted that you can make an audience believe the impossible, but not the implausible.  I try to keep this in mind while writing, and it's a tool that I wish more writers - in comics and other mediums - would follow.

In comics, for instance, I have no trouble believing that Superman, as a character, can exist.  Alien from a doomed planet, just happens to look human, gets powers from the Sun being a different color than his...I'm fine with that.  Bruce Banner gets bombarded with Gamma radiation, and instead of, I don't know, dying of cancer, he turns into the Hulk.  Beyond where he gets all that extra mass he's lugging around (and how his pants stay on), I'm fine with it.  Absolutely!  That's integral to the plot, and I can suspend my disbelief for things like that with no problem.

However, I have to draw the line when it comes to events that are just too implausible, even in a world where the Flash can run near the speed of light and not catch on fire from the friction or suffocate from the lack of oxygen (I know, I know...he's got his "protective aura".  Whatever that is.)  I absolutely cannot stand when a character, perhaps one fleeing some imminent danger, decides to take to the sewers as a means of refuge or escape.  This character spots a nearby manhole and makes a break for it.  He or she slyly LIFTS THE MANHOLE COVER out of place, takes the ladder down into the hole, then slides the cover back into place, slipping out of sight.

Don't people realize that manhole covers weigh, like, 300 pounds (136 kg to our international readers)?  Seriously, go outside now, locate the nearest manhole, and try to move it.  Give it a try!  Unless you have something that gives you a decent amount of leverage, it's not going to budge.  If manhole covers were really as easy to move as you'd see in a movie or in a comic book, people would steal them all the time.  College students would take them and hang them up on their walls like they do with street signs.  People would have fun and toss them around like an oversized Frisbee.  Ever wonder why this doesn't happen?  Because it's near impossible to move them.  When work crews come and need to remove a manhole cover, they have tools to facilitate this.  They don't just bend down and grab it.

The above pictures are all from comics I purchased in the last month (though one is, admittedly, a reprint).  None of the characters so nonchalantly grabbing the manhole covers in question is imbued with super strength.  I suppose you could make the case for the Ninja Turtles being stronger than people, but even that's a stretch.  My point is, these writers are all talented.  They work on popular books and characters.  Why, then, do they write such ridiculous, implausible scenarios into their books?

I want to write a scene in a book one day where a character tries to go into the sewer by lifting a manhole cover, and instead of gaining instant access, he gets a hernia from the effort.  Also, I want to write a character who shouts "people only use ten percent of their brains!", and immediately have that character get hit by a bus.  That's one of the most unbelievable phrases I continue to hear and see in various forms of media.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Teddy and the Yeti gets its (Google) due

My good friend Larry sent me this picture on Monday - it appears that Teddy and the Yeti has become so (Internet) famous that search engine benchmark Google has added it to its auto-complete function.  I'm really not sure how this comes to pass - perhaps enough people have to search for a term for it to be included, or perhaps it's the number of online references.  Regardless, it's nice to see Teddy and the Yeti getting its due in this manner, if for no other reason than it was frustrating to type in "Teddy and the Yet" and STILL get no Google suggestion.

Now it's time to sneak up on stalwarts such as 60s rock group Teddy and the Pandas, teddy and the bear mechanical bank - a coin bank featuring the US President KILLING A BEAR - and Teddy and the Frat Girls, named after mass murderer Ted Bundy.  It's a tough road to the top.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The dreaded swine flu strikes again.

I just got word that Teddy and the Yeti artist (and he of the adjectival last name) Duane Redhead is laid up with H1N1 - better known as the swine flu, which, I think, would make a great "catch" for a comic book villain.  Or, better yet, they should put out an issue of a book where various super heroes hunt down all of the pig-themed villains in the name of worldwide sanitation.

Of course, this is a serious matter, but as Duane has still been e-mailing me, I can only expect a full recovery for him and his wife, who, as a school teacher, is probably to blame for this whole mess (I'd like to point out my facetious nature in regards to that last statement, lest someone takes my jocular comments in the wrong context).

About a month ago I was put out of commission by something very similar - it was the flu for sure, and while it certainly could have been the swine flu, I never went to the doctor to check, so...  I can attest that being sick in this manner is absolutely no fun at all - when I was down and out, my days consisted of sleeping for 14 hours, waking up in a semi-functional state for 30 minutes, feeling terrible, and then going back to bed again, waking up only to cough up various fluids from time to time.

My thoughts and prayers are with Duane.  I hope that he recovers soon enough for me to cajole him into drawing more Teddy and the Yeti, selfish bastard that I am.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Colors by Carol J.!

Above is a page from Teddy and the Yeti's second issue, which, now that I think about it, is fast approaching being shipped off to the printer (meaning I have to get moving on lettering, dammit).  Karin Rindevall was a little behind with this issues, so I found Caroline Jamhour ready and waiting.  I hope you'll agree that we haven't lost a step - Karin is a tough act to follow, but I think that Caroline keeps the quality of the book very high.  I'm thrilled to be working with her.

Caroline is an artist located in Brazil, which also means that Teddy and the Yeti has become even more multicultural.  We've now had people from four different continents work on the book: North America (United States and Canada), Europe (England, Sweden, Germany), Asia (Philippines) and South America (Brazil).  Africa, Australia and Antarctica need to start picking up the slack!  Seriously.

You can see more of Caroline's work here, and marvel at juuuust how girly it truly is.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reviews...kind of.

I've been lucky enough to have some of my work published in the past.  Other than one issue of Mr. Massive (and a preview "zero" issue of Teddy and the Yeti), other companies have handled the printing and publishing chores, for which I've been even luckier.  For whatever reason, though, everything else I've done has been quite short on reviews.

It's not that I expect to be a household name or to have my work read by lots of people.  But writing in any form is a lonely business, and it's nice when people leave their comments, professional or otherwise, and so far those comments have been few and far between.

I wonder if it's just because I rarely write anything very controversial.  In Josh Howard Presents: Sasquatch, Teddy and the Yeti went up against one story where Bigfoot joined the US Army and mutilated Osama Bin Laden; in Strip Search, there was a story about lesbian robots (I'm exaggerating...and it actually was a pretty decent tale).  Still, these are both books that had a fairly wide release and are still available to this day, and you'd figure someone would talk about my entries at some point.

The same can be said for the Amazing Transforming Superhero, an academic collection of essays on how certain characters have been revised as times have changed.  My entry on the Thing (of course...what else?) perhaps got lost in the shuffle as there were some fairly brilliant pieces surrounding it, and I haven't heard much reaction, good or bad, until I did a bit of searching a while ago, and finally found some words about my contribution.  Sort of.

In 2007 (the year the book was released), the SF Site reviewed the book to find that The Amazing Transforming Superhero wasn't for everyone, which, as a collection of conference essays, would figure. The reviewer then goes on to mention that "Nevertheless, there are several points of minor interest to the comics fanatic.  Some of which, I was pleased to find as an occasional comic book reader of long standing, were new to me.  Among them are; Ben Grimm's religious heritage..."

JACKPOT!  Four words, not bad.

The online journal Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture also reviewed the book, this one in their fourth issue of 2008.  Reviewer Christian Pyle had this to say: "A wide variety of other topics complete this anthology.  Jeff McClelland looks at how the Thing of the Fantastic Four has developed over time from a Yancy Street everyman to a devout Jew."

That isn't necessarily the point of my essay, but HEY!  What the heck...I'm even mentioned by name!

Sigh.  I'm sure there'll come a point, if I keep at it, where someone will either love or hate something I write enough to espouse or deride it in more than just a few sentences.  I await that day with baited breath.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

sketch cards

A few months ago, I bought a sketch card featuring the Thing by the legendary Fred Hembeck; it currently adorns my bookshelf, leaning back near C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters.  Sometimes I find that I have to stop myself from heading over to eBay and spending a crapload of money on all of the other great cards they have up for auction, because let's face it - I already spend too much on comics every month to justify TOO many more hobbies.

Sketch cards seem to be pretty popular right now - they're small enough that an artist can churn a good number of them out and make some quick cash, while others can afford to buy them as opposed to full pages of original comic book artwork, which can go for several hundred or even thousands of dollars, depending on the artist and characters involved (every once in a while I see early Fantastic Four artwork from Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott, and I just about die).

It goes without saying that I hope Teddy and the Yeti one day garner enough fame to warrant sketch cards of their own - though that's not too far of a stretch as I've seen some rather obscure characters on cards.  If there are any artists reading this post, know that if you'd draw one of those two characters on a card and place it up on eBay, it'd be almost the same thing as reaching into my pocket and taking my wallet...because I think I'd pay stupid amounts of money to make sure I got it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Black Friday at New Dimension Comics: Teddy and the Yeti #1

I recently spoke to the good folks at New Dimension Comics, which is a chain of stores around the Pittsburgh area, and they've asked me to launch Teddy and the Yeti at their Century III store the Friday after Thanksgiving - or, as we like to call it, Black Friday.  As it's easily the busiest shopping day of the year, I naturally agreed and we're working on the smaller details right now.  It's a great opportunity to get the book in front of people who otherwise wouldn't know of it, and I'm always looking to scare random strangers, so it seemed like a natural fit.

I'll post some of the finer details at a later point (like when I'll be there), but for now I'm just happy to have this set up.  If you're in the Pittsburgh area and would like to get a copy of Teddy and the Yeti #1 before it goes on sale anywhere else, stop by and say hello.  Well, I mean, you have to buy a copy if you want it, but say hello regardless, because that's just good manners.

The address:

New Dimension Comics
Century III Mall
3075 Clairton Rd. #940
West Mifflin, PA 15213

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thank goodness for YouTube.

My good friend Larry (yes, he of Franks and Beans fame) recently added to my Thing collection (there are weirder things to collect...I think) when he found the object in the center of the above picture at a used toy shop somewhere in the magical land of Pittsburgh.  The bottom is made from a hard plastic, but from the waist up it's built from a flexible, hollow rubbery substance, and to top it off, there's a medium sized straw-like protrusion sticking out of its back.  This was, of course, rather perplexing to both of us, but a little bit of research shed some light on this strange figure.

This Thing was made in 1978 by the Funstuf company, and it seems I have an incomplete version of the toy (though, obviously, I have the most important piece).  The complete version comes with a pump, clasps to hold the arms down, and a...well, a box to put it in.  Check out this 1970s commercial to get a better idea of the hours and hours of fun you can have with this toy:

Just think!  If I had the pump and the box, I could do things like put the thing in the box, pump twice, and see him break out!  Then I could...uh...put him in the box again, pump a couple more times, and...see him break out.  After that, I could...well...put it back on the shelf.

What a bizarre figure.  As Larry pointed out, though, you'd be hard pressed to get a toy that did ANYTHING back in 1978, so perhaps I'm being too critical.  I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that this is the ugliest Thing in my collection - but I love it for just that reason.  Now to look for that box...

To think, if this were twenty years ago (and I was just a wee lad at eight years old), I would probably be beating my head against a wall trying to figure out what in the world this toy was and what its purpose could possibly be.  But thanks to the wonder that is the Internets, all it took was the copyright information on the bottom of the Thing's foot, about ten minutes and a Google link to YouTube to come to this satisfactory conclusion.  Thank goodness for it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The books are in.

...and they look absolutely fantastic.  I couldn't be happier with the overall quality.  It's like...well, it's like reading an actual comic book, which I guess IS THE POINT!, but it's a different feeling when you're holding the book in your hands.  For those of you that ordered a copy, please know that it is safe and sound, residing in my house, waiting to be shipped off to your place, wherever that might be.  If it makes it any more enticing, I will personally kiss each issue that goes out.  If that makes you uncomfortable, forget all about what I just said.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Requiem for Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four

From a fan's perspective, it's comforting to know that some books will NEVER be cancelled - as long as there's a DC Comics, there'll be Action Comics, and as long as the courts stay on their side, it'll star Superman more often than not.  As long as there's a Marvel Comics, there'll be Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America and Fantastic Four titles - their flagship books.  While this may lead to a lull in creativity or a stagnation of character traits, the part of me that views these creations as old friends (in a very loose sense) can find solace in knowing that month after month, I can still pick up these titles if I so choose.  If I'd quit collecting comics for 20 years, chances are I could walk into a future comic shop (or perhaps I'd just think my way inside) and grab the latest issue of Fantastic Four.  I'd probably have a pretty good idea about what was going on, too.  This doesn't always extend to satellite books, though.

A few months ago, Fantastic Four Giant Size Adventures came out as a one-shot issue.  I was a little curious as to why Marvel would put out this book when Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four was an ongoing title, though I soon surmised that this was because MA:FF had been cancelled.  This is a shame because the book was consistently solid, and more often than a few times it was the best Fantastic Four book on the shelves.

Much of my praise goes out to writer Paul Tobin, who took this book - aimed at a younger audience as are all the titles under the Marvel Adventures banner - and told good, self contained stories without dumbing down the characters to make them more accessible.  Though every story had to be finished in 22-or-so pages, the characters still retained their spark, the essence of who they were and what made them such likable fictional characters.

It was obvious, at least in my opinion, that Tobin's favorite character in the book (perhaps in the entire Marvel Universe) was the Thing, which was right up my alley.  Often the books would read as "Marvel Adventures Thing and his pals the Fantastic Four", and don't let anyone tell you that was a bad thing - having Ben Grimm get all the best lines and the most scenes gave me a pretty good idea of how I'D write the book if I had the chance.

The last issue of the series, #48, ranks right up there with some of my favorite Fantastic Four stories of all time.  Galactus transports the team to the end of time, where the world-eater awaits the end of the current universe and the beginning of the next - an event that he and only he will survive.  As he prepares for the inevitable, Galactus employs the FF to fend off various iterations of contemporary super villains, as they could disrupt his plans.

As the team holds off the desperate schemes of the villains and returns to their own time, they are confused as to why a being as powerful as Galactus would have needed their help in the first place.  Reed Richards realizes that this was Galactus's way of saying goodbye, of getting to see the closest thing he's had to friends one last time before the end.  Mr. Fantastic looks Galactus straight in the eyes, shakes his hand, and says, "I'll miss you, too."

It's stuff like that that most writers miss, and it's stuff like that that I appreciate the most.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Random updates

...get it? The image is of the character "Random" from X-Force...or of those X-Men spinoff teams. Whatever. Anyway, a few updates to pass along, none big enough to warrant a long rant:

- I've updated this blog site just a bit by adding a few widgets to the side bar over on the right. Now you can search all posts (just like you've always wanted!), and wander through the maze that is the largest, most incomprehensible tag cloud with all the many, many labels I've used in the past.

You want to know how many times I've used "The Thing" as a tag? Four! (well, now it's five.) How about "Pittsburgh"? Take a peek on the right...and you just might find out! I've even tagged Sarah Palin once, for who knows what reason.

- Todd Nauck has agreed to do an interview for Teddy and the Yeti issue #2. As you'll recall (YOU WILL!), Todd drew the Mr. Massive cover to the same issue. Phil Hester was kind enough to do the same for issue #1 - a cover and an interview. I wasn't sure if I could get a hold of Todd, but I was able to a few days ago.

- They're having a ridiculous sale over at, the place I preorder most of my Futurama toys from. I'm not sure how long the sale - 50-90% off their entire stock - will last, but I moved on it as soon as I got the e-mail: among a few other things, I got the Marvel Legends 1st Appearance Thing figure for five bucks!

- I got an e-mail from Pat Olliffe on Thursday saying that his Teddy and the Yeti cover is done. He both penciled and inked it, and I'll be getting it in the mail in a few days. This is theoretically the cover to issue #4, though Duane and I may take some time off after we'll see what eventually happens.

- Teddy and the Yeti #1 is officially on its way from Brenner Printing to my house. I should get all 2,000 issues by Tuesday, at which time I'll have to figure out where to put them between now and when I ship the orders off to Diamond's various warehouses.

- Teddy and the Yeti #1 is currently number 40 on Exclamation Comics' top 100 best selling comic books of the day, outranking Dark Reign: Hawkeye #5, Haunt #1 and Deadpool Team-Up #899. I have no idea what this means in any real context.

- Artist Nick Acs has a new blog with art from a backup story that will be featured in a future issue of Teddy and the Yeti. It was posted on October 25th, and as of now it's very much the only post on the site. Which is awesome.

That's all I've got! And a great time was had by all.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fate Magazine

As has been mentioned before, I do the "occasional" Google search for mentions of Teddy and the Yeti. Many times the results point right back to this blog, while others come from the standard Previews issue description online retailers have picked up on. In all, there aren't a whole lot of surprises, save for one curious result from Fate Magazine. Their online preview of the January-February issue includes a table of contents listing for "Presidential Bigfoot: Teddy and the Yeti" by Gary W. Hemphill, which, upon making this discovery, scared me right to high hell.

I'm sure a listing like this might make a lot of people worry. For one, the magazine is using the EXACT NAME I've chosen for the book, but beyond that, Teddy and the Yeti's first appearance in 2007's Josh Howard Presents: Sasquatch anthology dealt with the duo taking on robotic doppelgangers of historical figures, prominently including US Presidents, making the "Presidential Bigfoot" title all the more troublesome.

I didn't want to jump to conclusions, but I also didn't want to turn a blind eye to something that could end up being a serious case of copyright violation and cause me problems in the future, so I went ahead and plunked down $10.95 ($5.95 for the magazine, $5.00 shipping!!) to get a copy of the issue in question, which arrived in my mailbox today.

To my relief, there's no connection between Teddy and the Yeti the comic and Teddy and the Yeti the Fate Magazine article. The article in the magazine deals with Teddy Roosevelt and his experiences with a man who at one time MIGHT have encountered Bigfoot, and nothing more. Apparently Gary Hemphill also finds "Teddy and the Yeti" to be a clever title...but the similarities end there, much to my overwhelming solace.

I now have to deal with the fact that there is a searchable record of me purchasing a conspiracy theory magazine. This issue of Fate Magazine came with the can't-miss offer to purchase "Species Link: The Journal of Interspecies Telepathic Communication", which I can't imagine is an actual journal of academic repute.

The magazine itself had a section on psychic predictions for 2009 (remember, this was the January-February issue), which included one that stood above the rest: "Our government", predicts noted medium Jennie Easterling, "will obtain a device that will break a hurricane when it is several hundred miles out, so when it reaches land, it will be broken up into several tropical storms scattered along the shoreline." Well, I guess they still have almost two months to reveal this secret hurricane buster, but...I'm a bit skeptical.

Finally, if you look at the scan of the cover I took, this issue of Fate Magazine also offers tips on how to sell a haunted house, which, during a recession, is quite kudos on whoever thought to put that on the cover.

In 20 years or so, I'm sure there will be some congressional hearing not unlike the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s in which this purchase will come back and damn me. And I'll have no recourse but to admit I bought it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009

I'm not usually one to get dressed up for Halloween - I'm not really sure why, it just seems that I never think about it until it's too late. This year, however, I made the decision to make a costume with a few hours to spare, otherwise known as enough time to run down to Goodwill and frantically try and throw something together (which, as it turns out, is a thought that many many other people have, as the store I went to was teeming with dozens of other Halloween costume procrastinators).

As this is a comic book related blog, I will let you figure out who I decided to go as. Some incorrect answers I heard ALL NIGHT are as follows: guy who was in a plane crash, guy who needed to go to the dry cleaners (??), and the most popular of the three, "The Castaway." Apparently I had a Tom Hanks vibe going on that day. I HAVE PURPLE PANTS, PEOPLE! COME ON!!

Also, two dogs managed to sneak into this picture. One is real.