Monday, February 19, 2007

The Warner Bros. Studio Store

One of my favorite places to go used to be the Warner Bros. Studio Store. I visited several of them, in Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit, basically anywhere I travelled. Every time I walked into one I wished, like George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life," that I had a million dollars. As a Batman and Superman fan, the Studio Store was often the only place I could find collectibles suitable for my displays, like this one.

I remember one very pleasant trip that my wife and I took to the WBSS in Water Tower Place in Chicago. It was going to be the first of many birthday trips for me. We took the South Shore train from South Bend into the Loop in downtown Chicago, had a nice lunch, and took a cab up to the northernmost point of Michigan Avenue. After I'd bought all the stuff I could afford I was not looking forward to carrying it all, so I asked about shipping it home. As it happened, we found out that if we shipped things home, we only had to pay Indiana sales tax instead of Chicago sales tax, which at that time was a substantial difference. In fact, the difference covered the cost of shipping! So we walked out of the store empty-handed but happy, and walked the rest of the way south on the Magnificent Mile and shopped for Christmas gifts for our families, shipping everything home the same way.

Unfortunately, the Warner Brothers Studio Stores closed the next year and that turned out to be our last trip. Now that I'm about to be a father, though, I look forward to taking my daughter on the South Shore just for another pleasant day in Chicago, just like the one we took a few years ago. I can just see her wanting to go in the American Girl store, the Ghirardelli Chocolate shop, and other Magnificent Mile treats. I just wish there was one more place we could visit where she could see the huge Batman and Superman statues that greeted us at the door.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Finally, here is why we are raising money by selling comic books! This is our daughter, Sera XiaoSheng McClain, who is currently waiting for us in Liangping, China. She is nine and a half months old, and is just adorable! We now have our referral and are sending back our approval forms as soon as we receive them tomorrow. Magi and I couldn't be more excited!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The New Teen Titans

Since my last post was about DC Comics Presents, I thought it would be appropriate to make this one about the most widely known issue of that title: DC Comics Presents #26.
Why is this issue so special? It's the first appearance of the New Teen Titans. My little brother and I had this issue back in the summer of 1980, but that one's long gone. The one I have up for sale now came from the collection of one of my best friends. I've bought several of my friends' collections over the past few years to help raise money for our adoption (more on that subject Monday), and I was pleased to see this one again. I remember not being impressed by the art of Jim Starlin in the Superman/Green Lantern story. I also remember not being impressed with the dialogue of Marv Wolfman. Here's a line from Superman: "That ring has the power to snuff out the sun!" Really?? I must have missed a couple of issues of Green Lantern.

Anyway, that story wasn't the best part. It was the insert preview of the New Teen Titans. I have always loved the Teen Titans. I was just a little boy when their cartoon episodes appeared on the Superman/Aquaman Adventure Hour, and my dad bought me a couple of issues back then because he knew I liked them. Imagine, kids with superpowers! But when this new version of the Titans came out I was 15 and in high school, way too cool for comic books. I still remember the year before, buying my very last one (or so I thought) from a girl I liked at Jack's Market in Mesick. It was an adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and I was embarrassed to be seen buying it, especially from her. But I bought it for my brother, who was staying with us for a few weeks, and we read it a dozen times each. I didn't think too much of George Perez's artwork then, but it wasn't long before he just started blowing the roof off what could be done in comics. But the thing was, there were new characters appearing that had never been seen before, alongside the characters that I really got into like Robin (and my brother's favorite, Kid Flash), and the story made me want more.

When I got to college, I found out that there were people there actually buying comics and not getting laughed at, even girls! So the next thing you know I was diving back into the world of comics. That was the year that George Perez drew the New Teen Titans poster. Back then, comic book posters were few and far between, and this one just knocked everyone's socks off. I still have mine, laminated and posted on the wall in my office. Okay, my office is my basement, so what? The point is, the Teen Titans have always been favorites of mine and still are. I've been inspired to make use of the idea of teenage superheroes recently, but more on that later, too.