Midtown Comics Rules

May 12, 2007 at 3:40 am | Posted in comic books, fantasy, pop culture, SCI FI | Leave a comment

yellow-line.jpgThe Reading Interests of Adults course at Rutgers for MLIS librarians-in training ended the semester with a NY field trip. I’ll blog about the bookstore visits in the next few entries. 

Midtown Comics Times Square(Comics, Collectibles, Manga)200 W 40th Street, 7th Ave., New York, NY 10018
Phone: 800-411-3341 or 212-302-8192 
(Mon-Sat: 11AM – 9PM, Sun: 12-7PM) http://www.midtowncomics.com 

Our store tour guide was Jerry, one of the founders of Midtown Comics. Its two locations and website sales have been going strong for over 10 years. Midtown is so well-known and respected that Entertainment Weekly reprints their website’s weekly bestseller lists. Comics and graphic novels are exploding in popularity thanks to movie/video game/comics tie-ins with media events such as Spiderman 3, the death of Captain America and the launch of the last Harry Potter book all in 2007  

Hot Releases New comics are issued every Wednesday. Midtown added a “do not cross” yellow checkered line on the floor to manage the midweek crowds. New issues are shelved by publisher (eg. DC,Marvel…,) with the last 4 weeks of issues on display.  Midtown is a strong supporter of Indie comic presses too manga2.jpg 

Mangadominates left wall space on the main level. Titles are shelved alphabetically but Jerry notes “there’s a raging debate about this”. Some of the staff are lobbying for shelving it by type (eg. shonen jump vs. shojen jump). The hottest trends are manga from China and Korea. Midtown stocks only English-language translations of manga.

Back Issues and CollectiblesMidtown has a Queens warehouse for back issue storage and order shipping. The store’s upper level features comic book, sci fi and fantasy collectibles like action figures. Midtown is proud of the “certificate of authenticity” it offers with its signed copies. Jerry noted that they charge a “fair price” for these, and often see the items resold on EBay at higher prices.   

rare-comics-wall.jpg Age Range Midtown Comics’ customers are “about 98%” adult males in their 20s and 30s although manga is attracting more female buyers. The store enforces comic book codes : M titles can only be purchased by adults with ID. The upper level has an “adult only” titles section. Midtown offers a “Young Readers” section where you’ll find kid-appeal comics like Calvin & Hobbes or Bone. Jerry noted that http://www.tokyopop.com  has a new age/content code for manga as of 2007.


Cyberpunk Sci Fi

February 23, 2007 at 4:05 pm | Posted in awards, cyberpunk, SCI FI, science fiction, SF, sidekicks | Leave a comment

Gibson, W. (1984.) Neuromancer. New York: Ace Books.  


Neuromancer achieved both instant critical acclaim and cult status, earning Book of the Year, the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1984 and the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award in 1985.  It is credited with launching a new SF subgenre, termed “cyberpunk” and remains a SF classic today.  In 1982, Gibson coined the term “cyberspace” in his story. “Burning Chrome”.  In Neuromancer he delineates his concept for “The Matrix”, a global information network which is today’s internet. 

  “Cyberpunk” merges the amoral, urban anarchy of  1980’s punk music and drug  culture with “cybernetics” exploration of the human-machine interface. Cyberpunk’s bleak, dystopian vision of the corrupted near future is typified by the disturbing film Blade Runner.  For more info, see   Cyberpunk as a SciFi genre 

Synopsis:  The protagonist, Case, is a drugged-out “cyberspace cowboy” (hacker), who is banished from the Matrix and close to death after stealing from a client. Desperate, Case agrees to hack the network for a shadowy militaristic figure, Armitage, in exchange for renewed health and wealth. Case works with and fights against a parade of unsavory characters from Tokyo to Paris, aided by Armitage’s razor girl assassin Molly, and an  Artficial Intelligence (AI) cybercowboy named Dixie, plus other shifty sidekicks.  

Throughout the novel, humans are portrayed as weak, flawed beings incapable of intimacy or honest personal relationships. At the start, Case’s prostitute girlfriend Linda Lee betrays him to get drug money; shortly thereafter, Case fails to intervene when Linda is murdered (though he agonizes and has a few nightmares about his indifference throughout the book).

 As Case penetrates the  Matrix “ice” (security layers), he discovers his real client is an AI called Wintermute, whose goal is to merge with another AI, Neuromancer, to exponentially grow in power and psychosocial awareness (cyberspeak for “take over the world”) The only hope for human intervention is from threeJane, the brilliant but emotionally bereft teenage heiress in a  dysfunctional family of capitalists. Her father is a pedophile and necrophiliac. 

The novel fizzles out after the AI components unite, with Case back to his old cowboy and body-abusing habits, and his sidekicks scattered around the world. The lack of full resolution is understandable, not just because it’s cyberpunk. Author Gibson wrote Neuromancer as the first of a cyberpunk trilogy, followed by Count Zero (1986) and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988).  

SCI FI Online Resources

February 22, 2007 at 4:09 am | Posted in fantasy, SCI FI, science fiction, SF, websites | Leave a comment

isfdb.jpgInternet Speculative Fiction DataBase (ISFDB)   A respected, top -five site for SF fiction bibliographies, author biographies and myriad links to SF resources, maintained by Texas A&M University.  ISFDB  includes 38,327 authors and 92,750 publications. They have added a community, editable wiki link.  (Accessed 2/21/07). http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/index.cgi 

Locus Online  Since 1997, online version of award-winning SF magazine Locus . Daily news updates (blinks) about science fiction publishing ,plus interviews, reviews, and new releases coverage. (Accessed 2/21/07). http://www.locusmag.com/  

SciFan   Site for fans and readers of science fiction and fantasy. Foscifi_fans_deviantart_id_by_scifi_fans.jpgcuses on reviews, bibliographies and biographies of authors, with entries searchable by series and themes. Searchable database includes 58,000 books, 15,000 writers and 3600 web links. (Accessed 2/21/07). http://www.scifan.com/  

Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Database   Searchable index of 76,000  articles, news clippings, movie reviews and other print material  from 1878-1991 devoted to science fiction and fantasy, with some coverage of horror, gothic and utopian literature .Excludes book reviews, and SF fiction. Index maintained by Texas A&M. (Accessed 2/21/07). http://lib-edit.tamu.edu/cushing/sffrd/ 

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America  Founded in 1965, writers’ organization responsible for annual Nebula Awards.  Links for bestseller lists and awards, press releases, industry and publisher news, and site of the week. (Accessed 2/21/07) http://www.sfwa.org/ 

Science Fiction  Bibliography  Excellent resource for SF research project, with extensive list of reference print resources available in public and academic libraries. Last updated 11/06 by Washington State University, it recommends encyclopedias, critical analyses, and SCI FI literature review indexes. (Accessed 2/21/07). http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/science_fiction/sfresearch.html 

SF-Lovers    Since 1979, dedicated to SF-fandom and updated by fan S. Jaffe. Archive of SF- Digest, Convention lists, WorldCon history, Resource Guide and info on SF TV and movies. (Accessed 2/21/07) http://www.noreascon.org/users/sflovers/u1/web/ 

SF Site  A mainstay on “top 5 links” lists for science fiction and fantasy, this  website  offers biweekly reviews, interviews, fiction excerpts, lists, news and previews with a searchable archive spanning more than a decade. It covers print, online (zines), TV, and movie SF works, with links to fan tribute sites, conventions, publishers and writer resources. (Accessed 2/21/07). http://www.sfsite.com/         

 Uchronia The Alternate History List is an annotated bibliography of over 2800 novels, stories, essays and material involving the “what ifs” of history. (Accessed 2/21/07)  http://www.uchronia.net/ 

Ultimate SF Web Guide    Text-heavy and last updated in 2004,  but over 6000 links to SF web resources  and unique features: SF readlikes by themes, SF timeline by decade, pages on aliens, time travel, games (Accessed 2/21/07) http://www.magicdragon.com/UltimateSF/SF-Index.html  

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