Suicide Squad Official Trailer

By Hal Hickey

I have to admit, when I saw the initial material around Suicide Squad – The Movie, I was sceptical. It looked as though DC Comics/ Warner Bros might be serving us a zany stinker. Instead, they served us a big banana. Diseased looking on the outside but decadently delicious, once you peal back the cover.

Here is the official trailer for Suicide Squad, still pretty zany but wickedly delicious!

Coming August 2016

Comic Books – A good entertainment value?

By Hal Hickey

Scanning through the latest comic catalog, produced by Diamond Comic Distributors, the average cover price is a penny under $4.00 for 32 pages of artwork and story. If you are in Canada, that cover price balloons to $5.40…ouch!

The modern comic book takes about 20-30 minutes to read, if you include the letters page, closer to the 30 minute mark. That works out to the equivalent of $8.00 per hour of entertainment. For collectors, one can’t place a dollar value you place on the enjoyment of adding it to your collection and checking off another chapter in the quest to collect every issue of a comic title! As some might say…priceless!

Collecting value aside, let’s compare comic books with other forms of entertainment. I am purposely leaving out newspapers (depressing and full of misinformation), magazines (sometimes better quality information, but mostly informative in nature), and video games (which require active participation by the user).

Movies and pocketbook novels can easily fit in the same entertainment category as comic books. All three have a goal to passively entertain. In other words, no active participation other than mental focus required.

The average cinematic movie ticket price at the end of 2015 was $8.34, let’s round it down to $8.00 for ease of comparison. An average movie is 90 minutes long so your cost is $5.50 per hour of entertainment. I won’t comment on the annoyance factor of the copious quantities of commercial advertisements, one must now endure in all cinemas. But I digress…

Paperback novel average price is $7.68, lets round this up to $8.00 as well. An average reader requires about 1-2 hours to read 100 pages and, with a typical book being 250 pages long, that provides an average reader 3-5 hours of entertainment. Let’s call it 4 hours for simplicity. The paperback provides the best entertainment value at $2.00 per hour.

2015 cost of entertainment per hour

Comic book cost per hour

Movie cost per hour

Paperback novel cost per hour

$8.00

$5.50

$2.00

Ok, time for some historical context: How about comparisons to 1950 prices? A couple of clarifications. In 1950:

  • comic books contained 50-60 pages with a cover price of 10 cents each
  • movie run times were 60 minutes, ticket price 40 cents each
  • paperback novels were 200 pages, cover price 25 cents

1950 cost of entertainment per hour

Comic book cost per hour

Movie cost per hour

Paperback novel cost per hour

$0.10

$0.40

$0.08

Some interesting comparisons to make for sure. In 1950, the entertainment value of paperback novels and comic books were similar, while the entertainment cost of going to a movie was 4-5 times higher.

Jump to today and the paperback novel remains the best entertainment value, an even better value with e-readers, but that is another topic. While movie as entertainment was 5 times more expensive per hour than a paperback in 1950, today it is better at 2.75 times higher, what looks like an improving value for movie entertainment (until your read further). The big loser is the comic book, which now cost more per hour in entertainment than movies, not quite but close to 2 times the cost of a movie and now 4 times the cost of a paperback novel. Is it any wonder why comic book collectors are the only niche, and a diminishing one at that, left to preserve comic books as an entertainment medium!

Let’s look at how much the cost of hourly entertainment has increased in the past 65 years:

How much has the entertainment cost per hour increased since 1950?

Comic book increase in %

Movie increase in %

Paperback novel increase in %

7900%

1275%

2400%

For a final comparison, let’s now apply a “real world formula”, to reflect on a true cost of hourly entertainment.

First: Comic books can be shared with another family member, but it is rare that a family has more than one comic collector. Plus the need for that same collector to preserve that fairly fragile comic book for an imagined potential future value, means that it is unlikely that any other person, known or otherwise, will ever get their grubby hands on that precious piece of entertainment. Verdict: No change to the cost of entertainment for comic books.

Second: Movies. It is rare that someone goes alone to a movie theatre. Therefore cost to the family can double or quadruple if kids come along. While each family member enjoys 90 minutes of entertainment, our finances are finite and this takes a bigger bite out of our pocketbook. Plus, the addition of popcorn, a drink and a chocolate bar for each can add another $20-$50 to the experience (often more expensive than the movie ticket price!). To simplify, let’s say only two of us go to the movie and we resist the urge to purchase popcorn at 10 cents a kernel… Verdict: The cost, out of our finite entertainment budget, of going to a movie has now doubled to $11.00 per hour.

Third: Paperback novels. Paperback novels can be shared with another family member and the odds of someone in the family with similar tastes for a style of novel are 100,000% greater than a collector sharing a comic book. Since there is no collectible value in the surprisingly indestructible paperback novel, chances are this will be read several times before it  gets used to start a campfire, and has an added bonus of trade bait for friends for other novels. Verdict: The cost of entertainment per hour drops by a factor of 2-4 (50 cents to $1 per hour). Shhh, let’s not even mention 25-50 cent used paperback novels at second hand stores or garage sales.

I’ve written this article as a long time reader and an even longer time collector of comic books. I also enjoy a good novel and will go to a movie cinema for any movie I consider to be “epic viewing” on the big screen. I am saddened to see the incredible rise of entertainment cost for comic books over the years. Without the movie industry’s recent support for preserving comic book characters as movie properties, comic books would already be an extinct medium of entertainment. But, nothing can replace that feeling when that comic book you bought 5 years ago has suddenly increased in collectible value by multiples over cover price.

Star Wars The Force Awakens review – no spoilers

By Hal Hickey

On Thursday night at 10pm, I attended opening night in a packed theatre to witness a movie I thought would never be made, Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens.

After Episode III, George Lucas declared he would never make the last three episodes in the storyline as the life commitment to do so, was just too much. After my somewhat disappointment with Episodes I, II and III, I thought that was the end of this storied franchise. The first three episodes in the Star Wars timeline, while beautiful to look at, were saddled with corny dialogue, mediocre acting and a weak storyline. They never matched the pure thrill of the first three episodes, IV, V and VI, which still hold up today in every way imaginable.

Thankfully we had great stories over the years in the comic books, novels and action figures to imagine with and keep the Star Wars universe alive.

But then the news that Disney had set George Lucas up in his retirement by purchasing Lucasfilm and all of it’s properties, including Star Wars, the most popular movie franchise of all time. All of a sudden episodes VII, VIII and IX were on…Wow!

So, sitting in a sold out theatre last night, 3D glasses in hand, while 20 minutes of advertisements played, I realized how fortunate I am that I was going to watch a seventh movie in the Star Wars franchise, each one in it’s opening week.

I have seen episodes IV, V and VI at least 20 times each and tolerated Episodes I, II and III a couple of times. Now with the promise of JJ Abrams to take us back to the franchise roots, I waited. The movie begins as every other Star Wars movie and then…

Something seems eerily familiar…No, not the original cast which was to come at various times in the movie, but that first set, the theme, that feeling of something gone before…I shook it off. The feeling came back shortly after,  and again, and again. I didn’t know what was happening. Meanwhile this new story was unfolding before me, with building tension, strangely familiar, but not, simultaneously. It was riveting, tense and exhausting all at the same time. The sold out audience seemed not to breathe but for sparely scattered moments of cheeky and clever dialogue that allowed us collectively, to momentarily catch our breath.

The seemingly familiar nagged at my subconscious while the story, acting and dialogue sucked me in completely. The whole movie seemed like it lasted a mere 25 minutes instead of the 2 hours and 16 minutes runtime. When it ended, I sat back in my seat exhausted and silent while the credits rolled by. I pondered, what did I just experience? It was at once exciting, new, tragic, sad and exhilarating all at the same time, but the feeling of sameness crept back in.

This morning I woke up and it hit me. Genius!! JJ Abrams paid homage to all six of the previous Star Wars movies by capturing the mood and key scenes from each, all interwoven in a new story. I haven’t been able to shake the memory of the experience all day. What a treat and gift for all Star Wars fans. Thank you!

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens Official Teaser Trailer #2

We have been waiting 9 years for a new Star Wars Movie. While some would way we’ve been waiting 31 years (since the release of Return of The Jedi), the myth of Star Wars continued on, albeit struggling, through Episodes I-III.

We have had plenty of Star Wars comics and action figures to help us through this time and plenty of good ones too. But now, like me, and others that lived through the early Star Wars years, will watch this first official teaser and be left with a goofy grin and shivers running up and down your spine.

Have a look and savor and tell me you aren’t grinning or shivering just a little bit!

Ant-Man official movie trailer #1

Marvel Comics has dug deep into their vault pulling on not a second, nor even third tier character, The Ant-Man to carry a major motion picture. There is some star power here with Michael Douglas playing Henry (Hank) Pym, the original Ant-Man. The second Ant-Man in comic book form is Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd, who plays our current movie Ant-Man.

While certainly a risky move, why not? No one has really done the “miniature character” really well in films, with the exception of “Honey I Shrunk The Kids (the first one)”. Guess who was the real star of that film…well the ants of course.

Ant-Man has never been a strong enough character to carry his own comic book series. Hank Pym first appeared in Tales to Astonish #27 in 1962 and later became the Ant-Man in Tales Top Astonish #35 (1962). Ant-Man shared the title with various one-off stories, then teamed up with the Wasp. Having run out of miniature stories, Hank Pym suddenly changed from being Ant-Man and became The Giant-Man beginning with Tales To Astonish #49. Giant-Man and The Wasp continued to team up in the comic title until issue #69. So even Hank Pym as Giant-Man lasted 21 issues, compared to the Ant-Man’s run of 15 issues. The next longest run of an Ant-Man title was a 12 issue series “The Irredeemable Ant-Man“, beginning in 2006.

So let’s hope Marvel can pull it off. The kids may love this film, A potential sleeper. Enjoy the trailer and the film when it’s released on July 17th!

Avengers: Age of Ultron – movie trailer

Here we go! From the Avengers comic book, Ultron emerges as the latest foe to battle Earth’s mightiest heroes, Marvel universe that is. Slated for a May 1st theatrical release

Marvel Studios almost outscooped themselves as they announce a deal with Sony Pictures to pave the way for Spider-Man to appear in Avengers 3!

But, lets get back to the trailer on this $250,000,000.00 movie. This is officially a teaser, revealing little other than the uneasy “alliance” between member of the Avengers. Hold onto your hats, It is pretty intense!

Get ready for The Ant-Man movie!

Marvel Comics/Studios has reached deep inside it’s vault of super-heroes and pulled out a 4th tier character, the Ant-Man for a movie release on July 17th, 2015.

The Ant-Man has never succeeded in his own title except for a 12 issue series “The Irredeemable Ant-Man in 2006. Hank Pym first appeared as the Ant-Man in 1962 in Tales To Astonish #35. The Ant-Man has mainly appeared as a supporting character in several Marvel team comics.

So here we go with the riskiest move by Marvel Studios to date. Will this be the super-hero movie to crash at the box office? Have a look at the first trailer.

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians – Favorite Comic Book Cover

It’s that time of year when we should look to the season for an all-time favorite comic book cover. At the same time, what were they thinking?

On November 14th 1964, after spending a budget of approximately $200,000, Embassy Pictures Corporation released one of the worst movies of all-time “Santa Claus Conquers The Martians“. The film has achieved cult status in the category “It’s so bad, it’s good”.

To add a further seasonal faux-pas, Western Publishing in March of 1966 released a comic book adaptation under the Dell Comics imprint as part of their “Movie Classics” line of comics. I guess they assumed that any adaptation other than the movie might be an improvement. What were they thinking?

So, in the spirit of Christmas everywhere and in celebrating one of the worst films of all-time, I present a Christmas version of favorite all-time comic book covers!

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

March 1966 Santa Claus Conquers the Martians from Western Publishing (Dell)