My oh my, it’s been a while hasn’t it? A lot has happened since late November. But first let’s address the elephant in the room. Eagle-eyed readers took notice of a major announcement in my 15 year retrospective article posted one year ago that never materialized. By year’s end I wanted to launch an article highlighting my top 200 favorite Super Nintendo games. That obviously did not come to fruition. Aside from life’s craziness, my list wasn’t complete yet and I didn’t want to start throwing in titles for the sake of meeting a self-imposed deadline. The list’s status remains in the air, but it’s going down before all is said and done. But perhaps next time I’ll wait for it to be (almost) ready before I give y’all a heads up…
The good news is I’m still alive! And so is RVGFanatic, even if the updates in recent years have been way sparser than I would like. But hey, better late than never. My website quietly turned 16 years old last month. Crazy! Anywho, just to share briefly, in the past 2 months my son, wife and I all got COVID. We were OK for the most part but it was tough on my son (and thus, tough on us). He also got a nasty bout of RSV not long after. Seeing your poor precious baby in the ER hooked up on IVs at 4 in the morning is rough. Thankfully, the little guy is doing well now. In addition, my 103 year old grandma passed away in January. It was sad, but I’m glad she lived a great long life. I also take solace in the fact that her legacy and lessons live on through the rest of us.
A huge thank you to anyone reading this right now. That means you either randomly wandered here for the first time (highly unlikely haha) or you’re still checking in after all these years. That means a lot, especially since updates have been irregular for some time now. To be perfectly honest, for this first post of 2023 I wanted to review a Super Nintendo game for old times sake. It also would have doubled as a feeble attempt to make up for the lack of the top 200 article that was promised last year. But current passions won out. Therefore I’m sharing some of the books I bought during December instead. I hope you continue scrolling because there are some really cool comics, manga and graphic novels to gawk at. Some gnarly artwork for sure! Who knows, maybe you’ll see something that might strike your fancy enough to check out.
THE DYLAN DOG CASE FILES
In mid December my wife and I drove 40 minutes out to a Disney store (they are dying in my area) to pick up a Minnie Mouse plush for my niece. After grabbing some delicious hotpot down the street, we hit up the nearby Half Price Books where I laid eyes upon this gorgeous tome. I had never heard of The Dylan Dog Case Files before. It held a hefty price tag of $50 ($45 after my teacher discount), but online it was going for a little more (and not always in the best condition). This copy was a bit nicked up but it wasn’t too bad. A perfect example of being in the right place at the right time. Assuredly, this collector’s item would soon have been snatched up by someone else had we not dropped in that fine evening!
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Thankfully, MOST books sold at Half Price are typically 50% off its cover price. Take, for example, Zero’s Journey which retails for $19.99 but was had for under $10 after my teacher discount. It was a perfect pick up since it was nearing Christmas when I spotted it on the manga shelf.
B.P.R.D. PLAGUE OF FROGS 1-4
In late 2021 I bought the gorgeous Hellboy Omnibus Box Set. Mike Mignola is a genius and B.P.R.D. is part of the Hellboy universe. This particular set is an older edition (they have since released a sleeker edition with updated numbering), and it’s a bit beat up as you can see. But for half off, it was too good to pass up on. Plus anytime you can complete an arc or series in one go, you take it!
THE BOYS VOLUMES 2-6
Last summer I picked up the oversized hardcover edition of The Boys. Never got around to buying volumes 2 and 3, though. So when I saw these paperback babies of volumes 2-6 (of 6), I couldn’t resist. (I’ll have to sell off the oversized omnibus volume 1 at some point). Again I got these for a little more than half off with my teacher discount. It was like $13 each instead of $70+ with the hardcover oversized editions. I know a lot of comic book collectors prefer the hardcovers but I don’t mind a softcover if the price is too good to pass up on!
Took this pic at Barnes & Noble. I saved so much money getting these at Half Price instead!
MILESTONE COMPENDIUM ONE
Imagine my thrill when back in December I spotted a gently used copy of Milestone Compendium One for $25.99. Best of all, I had over $150 store credit so I got it for “free.” Milestone is a beloved comic series from the 1990s. It retails for $59.99 and contains over 1,300 pages of ’90s goodness. Milestone Compendium Two just came out last week which I promptly picked up.
CONCRETE VOLUMES 2-6
Created by Paul Chadwick, Concrete began its tale in the mid ’80s. At first glance it may appear to be yet another superhero story, but it’s anything but. Rather, it’s a very measured and nuanced story about a man whose entire body has been enveloped by pure concrete. This taxing scenario is examined in the most realistic and minute terms possible, right down to the kind of furniture needed. It’s a lonely slow burn that offers a contemplative read for any who have the patience to experience this very unique story.
One of the storylines is that people can send in letters asking for Concrete’s help. These noble endeavors allow Concrete to use his new unique body for the greater good of society. It’s essentially a slice-of-life comic.
Speaking of more quiet slice-of-life stories, I’ve had my eye on Himawari House by Harmony Becker ever since it was released in late 2021. Finally came across a used copy for under $10 and eagerly snatched it up.
THE DREAM OF THE BUTTERFLY
Equally as satisfying as finding a long wanted title for half off its cover price is the thrill of discovering something cool you never knew existed. The Dream of the Butterfly has MAJOR Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki vibes. The cover already had me sold but once I glanced inside, it only took all of 3 seconds for me to throw it into my basket!
Perhaps best known for his Giant Days series, John Allison has quite a fan following in the comic book community. His comics are vibrant, funny and just plain zany. When I saw this cute pocket edition of Bad Machinery, a series unbeknownst to me prior, it was an easy instant buy.
AX: ALTERNATIVE MANGA VOLUME ONE
Alright, enough of that cutesy shit! Here is AX, an out of print book that features many different manga artists and some controversial stories to say the least!
PARASYTE FULL COLOR COLLECTION 1
I own all 8 of the original B&W editions, but will be upgrading to this fancy full color collection. I haven’t read it yet but this series looks like a creepy blast.
DUMBING OF AGE VOLUMES 2-4
Discovered this webcomic and like Bad Machinery it comes in these cute pocket editions. It’s about a co-ed college dorm and its dysfunctional inhabitants. There are currently 11 pocket books available, and the series continues to be published on the artist’s website.
SORCERY 101 VOLUMES 1 AND 2
Speaking of webcomics, one random day in December I randomly ran across two shorter but thick ass black spines. It simply said SORCERY 101 with the volume number. I found out it was the complete webcomic series and in the basket it went. Did I mention that I love thick spines as well as pocket editions? Which is ironic when you think about it, because none of these pocket editions would fit in anyone’s pocket except for Godzilla.
DUCKS: TWO YEARS IN THE OIL SANDS
This haunting autobiographical memoir by Kate Beaton has attracted a ton of praise. This typically isn’t my sort of thing but this 400+ page memoir was only $18 (retail price $40). So why the hell not, y’kno?
Another autobiographical memoir. Hey didn’t I just say these aren’t my sort of thing? First off, the cover and spine is beautiful and eye catchy. Second, the true story sounds pretty interesting. The Pacific Crest Trail runs 2,660 miles, from California’s border with Mexico to Washington’s border with Canada. To walk it is to undertake a grueling test of body and spirit. This autobiographical work from an Irish visitor to the United States recounts the author’s own attempt to walk the length of the USA’s west coast. It mixes prose with art. Pretty fascinating!
HEAD LOPPER & THE ISLAND
Back to the fantastical! Head Lopper & The Island (or A Plague of Beasts) looks like balls to the wall madness. I mean, our hero carries around a decapitated witch head that still speaks! Citizen Kane? No. A must read? Absolutely.
THE DARK HORSE BOOK OF HORROR
Dark Horse is one of my favorite publishers. Anytime I see their logo with that stylized black horse on a particularly thick spine I always get a little bit excited. This trade paperback, released in late 2021, contains 300+ pages of horror content from a variety of writers and artists, with good ol’ Mike Mignola (of Hellboy fame) getting top billing. As with any anthology, there are hits and misses to be sure. The whole thing is pretty sleek looking and feels great in your hand. Can’t wait to read it eventually.
MY FRIEND DAHMER
Speaking of nightmares, how about My Friend Dahmer, a graphic novel highlighting the author’s high school encounters with future serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. Derf Backderf (his parents had balls of steel to use half of his last name for his first name) went to Revere High School in Ohio with Dahmer, and recounts his experiences with a teenage Dahmer in the late ’70s in the Midwest. This book received a boatload of praise for how bold and unique it was. What are the odds that a cartoonist was friends with Dahmer growing up? And would, decades later, recreate those high school years of Dahmer? Another run-of-the-mill fantasy or coming-of-age tale regurgitated for the 1,000th time this ain’t!
BILLY JOHNSON AND HIS DUCK ARE EXPLORERS
And now for something a lot more lighthearted. And it doesn’t get much more lighthearted than the adventures of Billy Johnson and his crazy talking duck friend.
Dungeon Critters is a colorful graphic novel with an RPG feel. This is the kind of stuff I would have loved if I were a kid. Hell, I guess I still do! But yeah, check out the artwork and colors on this bad boy. They’ve come so far with books. We didn’t have graphic novels like this back in the ’80s and ’90s!
Never heard of Stonebreaker before. It seems to be your typical coming-of-age fantasy adventure. A mysterious world filled with talking creatures, check. A plucky protagonist, check. Danger lurking behind every corner, check. But the different shades of color used section by section is pretty damn neat. Good enough for a relatively blind buy!
From the man, the myth and the legend himself, Osamu Tezuka! Storm Fairy, a short story collection, is not one of his better known works such as Astro Boy, Black Jack or Phoenix. But I am a simple man. I see Tezuka, I buy Tezuka.
ROBOTECH ARCHIVES: THE MACROSS SAGA
Over the decades I’ve heard of Robotech here and there, but I never took time to explore it any further. It’s beloved by many westerners living in America back in the ’80s who remember Robotech fondly as one of their earliest exposures to the world of anime and Japanese style comics. Seeing the beautiful nostalgic cover in the store for half off made for a no brainer buy.
THE MEN WHO CREATED GUNDAM
You can’t talk about robots in the world of anime and manga without mentioning Gundam. And here’s a huge 550+ page tome that depicts the journey of the men responsible for the birth of Gundam.
THE POE CLAN VOLUME 1
This beautiful 500+ page hardcover sat in the locked glass counter near The Men Who Created Gundam. I already own some of Moto Hagio’s work and I consider myself a fan. The artwork is always so interesting.
SWEET BLUE FLOWERS VOLUMES 1-4
Got the complete omnibus set of Sweet Blue Flowers. I love the quality and feel of these volumes. They’re so wonderfully produced. These are the kind of books that get snatched up fast… within days if not hours. They fly off the shelves like screaming bats out of hell. Always feel so lucky when I spot manga such as this in the wild…
THE WITCHER: LIBRARY EDITION
Let’s end this article with a BANG and take a sweet gander at my first buy of 2023! I’ve never played the Witcher games before. But I’ve heard a ton of praise surrounding the comics. So imagine my joy when I spotted this big, beautiful hardcover standing tall and proud in the locked glass counter. Best of all, it was half off at $24.99. After applying my 10% teacher discount, I got it for just under $25 out the door. What a deal!
December 2022 was an amazing month full of glorious finds. I’ve bought a few more since then that I will share another time in part IV. But yeah, whether it’s something I’ve had my eye on for some time or perhaps I’ve stumbled into something badass I never knew existed — the thrill and allure of the book store always seems to beckon me back. Anyway, thanks as always for dropping by. Let me know in the comments below if there was one manga, comic book or graphic novel in particular that resonated with you for whatever reason. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Alright, until next time, take care and a belated happy 2023! I wish all of you the best.