by Dylan Cassard
I was bike riding home today from work on this beautiful Boxing Day. And as my ears numbed from the cold wind, I was brought back to my pre-teen years making the twice weekly 2 mile trudge in the deep snows of Michigan winter just to get to the warm hearth and sanctuary of "Magnum Opus Comic & Card Cafe."
|Look at that sign! Such character.|
|Magic cards eventually made way for Japanese candy.|
This was the place where I discovered the world of independent comics. My young mind was a sponge devouring everything they had in stock. Vertigo, Tundra, Kitchen Sink, Antarctic Press, Oni, I read it all. Diving through their quarter bins for titles like A Distant Soil, Swamp Thing, The Invisibles, Preacher and the occasional shojo manga like Call Me Princess (I'm kind of a sucker for the stuff). The experience probably warped my young mind beyond repair.
In fact, I distinctly remember little 11 year old me trembling nervously as I asked the owner if he had anything that was "like a bad acid trip" to which he smirkily grunted and passed me The Frank Book by Jim Woodring.
The staff knew my group of friends so well we were exempt from the store's "No More Than One Kid Under 18 In The Store At A Time" rule. We were like Peter Bogdonavich and his crew going to speak to the cinema masters on weekends when they were studying film. Or young Marv Wolfman and his friends hanging out at Jack Kirby's watching the master at his drafting table. These guys KNEW comics. They were excited to see us getting into something other than super heroes (which were sold at the neighboring comic book store three blocks over). Maybe they were just happy for the business? Either way. They weren't condescending or snarky, and they were ready to help you find the series you never knew existed, but had always been dying to read.
|What book store is complete without cats?|
Magnum Opus showed me that comics could be more than just capes and tights before I ever could develop a prejudice. Weirdly enough, with all of this sequential art education, I didn't even read Watchmen until my junior year of high school.
Though I've been away from Michigan for over 5 years now and I've frequented many comic book stores since, none of them have been able to really keep that promise of unbiased attention to the sequential art world. Every time I went home I made sure to stop in and say hi and pick up a book. But two winters ago when I visited my family, I found out that Magnum Opus had closed. A void had been created in my comic book landscape. And it will be difficult for anything to replace it.
But what does all of this have to do with CBotMP?
Well, starting with Luci's Let Down, we are now going to be carrying select featured books in our digital store. And I hope that the spirit of Magnum Opus can live on through this venture.
From now on, any time we get a creators consent, listeners will be able to buy a copy from our site directly. This deal will help us not only bring new and exciting independent books to your attention, but also help us pay for hosting so we can continue spreading the word about these unsung books to people all over the world.
Thank you for all of your continued support. We appreciate it more than you could possibly imagine,
The Comic Book Crew
P.S. If you would like to purchase a print version of Luci's Let Down, you can purchase it from Babayaga Books.
Dylan's Favorite Books From His Magnum Opus Days
"Below is a list of a couple seriously underrated books that I have read and re-read over the years that I wish we could cover on the podcast. They are either out of print, or don't quite fit the show's format so we may never get to cover them. For your personal enrichment, my desert island indie comics."
Athena by Dean Hsieh
"Athena is a retired Olympian who is living out eternity as the lead singer of a punk rock trio. The book is jam packed with tons of crazy ideas that just keep coming. From gangs themed on demi-gods, to synth-wave music that transmits a mood to your brain which you interpret as music. It's an American made manga that kindled my love for punk rock."
The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman, Sean McManus & Bryan Talbot
"Many people site Season of Mist as their favorite Sandman story. But because this book is a loving nod to Oz, Middle Earth, Earthsea and Narnia for the GLBT crowd, it nestled in my heart and just won't leave. Sean McManus' cartoony pencils create a lush dream world that contrasts (in later issues) with Bryan Talbot's realistic over rendered version of reality."
"If Generation X were a comic, this would be it. A runaway named Rain living in Seattle, is chosen to be the witness for a jury of history's most unjust dead. The supernatural court seems out of nowhere, but the secrets Steven T. Seagle rends from the accused are often heartbreaking and moving. In a culture about image and hiding one's nature, Seagle creates a very interesting story of self-discovery."
And Crow: The Dead Time by J. O'Barr and Alex Maleev
"This 'sequel' to the Crow has stunning art by Alex Maleev before he teamed up with Brian Michael Bendis and started stiltedly photo-referencing. Some of his layouts in this mini-series are inspired. And I'm sad he hasn't produced much work of this caliber since."