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It’s 2012, I’m 35 years old and I’m reading two new comic book series, both based on decades-old intellectual properties for which I had a great interest in, and rather intense feelings about, at different points in my childhood. This is in no way unusual: Every line of toys, every cartoon series or TV show, every movie I was into at some point in my childhood now exists as a comic book and, in most cases, rebooted toys, cartoons, TV shows and movies. For children of the 1970s and 1980s, our entertainment franchises have grown up with us.
What’s slightly unusual about Battle Beasts and The Crow is how relatively obscure they are, compared to the Godzillas, Star Wars and G.I. Joes.
It’s 1987, I’m 10 years old and I don’t know it yet, but I’m reaching the end of the period in my life in which I can play with toys, in which I can easily slip into a time-stopped world of pure imagination and see characters appear and dramas unfold based on nothing more than some small piece of plastic, molded into He-Man or Boba Fett.
A friend comes over to play with me, and we divide our mixed lines of action figures — Transformers, Ghostbusters, Masters of the Universe, etc. — into teams that will build bases and battle one another. He has something new with him called “Battle Beasts.”
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d grab the latest Lio collection, Zombies Need Love Too. Cartoonist Mark Tatulli has one of the better newspaper comic strips going these days.
If I had $30, I’d nab what is clearly the book of the week, NonNonBa, the latest book from Shigeru Mizuki, author of Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths. NonNonBa aims more toward Mizuki’s traditional milieu of Japanese folklore and yokai monsters, though this book is more autobiographical in nature in that it deals with his relationship with his grandmother and how she instilled in him an interest in the spirit world. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this release.
My splurge for the week would likely be one of two books from First Second: Either Baby’s in Black, Arne Bellstorf’s fictionalized tale of the sadly doomed Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe, or Mastering Comics, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s follow-up to their previous how-to textbook, Drawing Words, Writing Pictures.