The High Five Podcast Episode 35 – A Neil Gaiman Sampler

Get into the Halloween spirit with this sampler of Neil Gaiman goodies that I think will give you a nice launchpad into his fantastic work! The best part? It’ll only take a few hours!

Link time! You can find the Neil’s Works section of his website here and read the Colleen Doran interview I did here.

I also tackled five more films in It’s All Connected 2021 to keep that moving along. I finished my Jill Schoelen mini-marathon, indulged a bit on my favorite slasher franchise, watched another John Carpenter film and then got to one wacky killer animal flick!

As always, you can email me at high5tj at or follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Also feel free to subscribe to my YouTube Channel!

Halloween Scene 2019: Vertigo

As I mentioned in my Halloween Scene 2019 kick-off post, I’ve decided to stick to Vertigo comics this scare season. The reason for that is two fold. First, the imprint was officially shuttered earlier this year and second, I was already pretty close to finishing up House Of Mystery.

Continue reading Halloween Scene 2019: Vertigo

Ad It Up: Sandman

Sandman was one of those comics that I always knew about, but never really got into. I started reading around 1992 or so and the book had been going strong for about four years at that point. But, I was way more interested in the adventures of Batman, Superman and Green Lantern, not some guy who looked like the world’s biggest cure fan. Later, in high school, I knew some older guys who read comics and wore ankhs and I laughed at them for being too serious about everything. I didn’t know anything about Sandman and I was okay with that.

Then, I started working at Wizard and some dudes whose opinions I really respected recommended I check it out. Now, it’s one of my top five comic series’ (the other permanent spots belong to Starman and Preacher with the other two changing depending on how I feel that day). It’s just such an amazing book. Anyway, I wonder what people must have thought when it first came out and they saw ads like this in issues of COPS (this one’s from #7, which I reviewed over here). A lot of people say they don’t like those first six issues, that you can skip them or that they’re not as connected to the rest of the series, but I completely disagree. Those issues not only set the tone and the story but also give superhero fans an easier way into the comic than a comic like that would these days. I’d say if you’re reading the book for the first time, just make sure you have the second volume on hand (or get the Absolutes, which I have). Together, those two will give you a good idea of what you’re getting into with one of the most complex and deep stories in all of comics.

Cool Art Of The (Yester)Day: Evan Shaner’s Legion Of Sandmen

The ComicTwart dudes have been absolutely murdering it this week with the subject of Sandman. Some people have drawn the Spider-Man villain, some the Golden Age DC character, some the Vertigo version and some the Jack Kirby recreation of the character, but only Evan Shaner did all four plus the current Sandman from JSA. I just love this piece because, with the exception of the Marvel villain, I’ve loved comics starring all of these guys (to be fair, I loved Sandman in the Spider-Man cartoon, I just don’t dig on Spidey comics). Well done Evan!

What I’ve Been Up To Lately

First off, I got some new business cards after going to MoCCA and the missus telling me it would be inappropriate for me to just write my info on the back of my old ToyFare cards. Need cards? Head over to VistaPrint and you can get 250 for free!

So the biggest new news I’ve got is that I’m doing daily reporting for’s The Goods section covering comics, toys, collectibles, DVDs, tech and other stuff you can buy. I’m doing around three posts a day, but you can just click here to see what I’ve done so far. Oh, I also did this list of cool geek clothing items that was fun to put together.

I’ve also had a few Topless Robot lists go up like The Top 20 Nods, Cameos and Easter Eggs in Alan Moore’s Top 10 Comics and The 12 Coolest Sandman Characters Who Aren’t Dream. Both were a lot of fun to put together and the commenters seem to like it.

Of course, my Maxim TV column is still going on, I actually turned in next week’s earlier today. Here‘s this week’s column.

Over on Clik I had a few stories go up. Every time I do one of these “we want to see” lists I hope to get an email asking me to become a consultant or video game writer. How do you get that job anyway? This time I did lists about comic book artists whose style should be used in games, licensed game fails and 90s comics that should be turned into games.

And last but not least I have been doing a ton of stories for Sideshow Iron Man collectibles, Earth’s Mightiest Costumes: Hawkeye, Bowen’s Wendigo and Iron Man, Hot Toys’ Whiplash figure, the new Atlas series, talking with my buddy Jim McCann about Hawkeye & Mockingbird, a new Infinity Gauntlet book, Captain America: Patriot and the new New X-Force book. I’m sure there’s more that I’ve missed, this is the bulk of the posts.

Jack Kirby DC Checklist With Collections

After reading Jack Kirby’s The Losers and writing about it, I got to wondering about what exactly The King did for DC and how much of it is collected in one way or another. As usual, I headed over to Wikipedia, but his bibliography page is pretty much a mess. Then I thought about heading over to, but I didn’t see a way to streamline the search and didn’t feel like going through Kirby’s five decade career. So, I figured I’d use a combination of sources and put a list together myself and include links to Amazon where you can buy your own copies. Now mind you, some of these collections contain other material that isn’t Kirby, like the Archives and Showcases. Here’s what I came up with. I didn’t count just covers or pin-ups for the most part (which is why the Super Powers comics aren’t on here even though he plotted and did covers) and I’m sure I’m missing a lot of stuff. Feel free to let me know what I forgot in the comment section. And away we go. Continue reading Jack Kirby DC Checklist With Collections

Roseanne Comics Cavalcade: David’s Sandman T-Shirt

Oh David, how I love watching Roseanne just to see what comic-themed T-shirt you’ll be wearing under your layers of 90s-tastic clothes. I saw that pasty mug looking out at me and instantly recognized Neil Gaiman’s classic Sandman character Morpheus and just had to grab my camera phone. I didn’t realize until searching that that it’s actually a Kelley Jones image and you can buy your own over on TeeNormous. Here’s a better look at the image on the shirt.

Roseanne Comics Cavalcade: The Endless

The hardest part about snapping these pictures of my television with my phone is getting the comic image in frame. I’ll see it, or see that the action is moving up to the bedrooms and try to get ready, but the characters usually zoom right by the poster, giving me just enough time to glimpse it, but not a lot to snap a picture in. Today’s entry is what I thought was an Endless poster featuring the first family of Vertigo’s amazing Sandman (which I’m re-reading right now). See it over Becky’s left shoulder on the door there? Turns out it’s actually a wall scroll and unlike most of the previous installments of Roseanne Comics Cavalcade, I was actually able to track down the full image and here it is.Very cool.

Trade Post: The Pile

Hey Gang, seeing as how I’ve got a lot of time on my hands now, I’ve been tearing through some movies and trades. I haven’t done posts yet, but you can be on the lookout for more of those down the road. These trades are actually from last week and the week before. As usual, I’ll run down the pile top to bottom.

CAPTAIN AMERICA BATTLES BARON BLOOD (Marvel Illustrated Books) Written & drawn by Roger Stern and John Byrne
This little number was quite the oddity. I thought it was going to be one of those novels-based-on-comics things. I read a ton of the ones that came out in the 90s back then. I guess I should have noticed the “Illustrated” portion of the title. So, what you’ve got here is a strange book that collects (according to this site) collects Captain America 250, 253 and 254 which covers those issues where Captain America fights Baron Blood and meets the new Union Jack (as well as the newer Baron Blood) along with the issue where Cap says “no” to running for president. The interesting thing, which you can see in the below pic, is that they cut these comics into panels (black and white ones) and pieced them together on pages the size of the average Pocket Book. Weird right? The stories were good, though kind of slow and I would much rather read them in color. Roger Stern is the man, by the way, he’s definitely one of the most unsung writers in the history of comics.

DC UNIVERSE SPECIAL: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1 (DC) Written by Len Wein, Gerry Conway & Jack Miller, drawn by Dick Dillin & Joe Certa
Though technically not a trade, there were two reasons I included this issue in this post. One, it collects Justice League of America #111 (“Balance of Power!”), 166-168 (“The League That Defeated Itself”) and Detective Comics #274 (“The Human Flame”). These are all stories that hold some relevance to Final Crisis and Infinite Crisis, though they’re not really hyping the IC connection. You get Human Flame and Libra’s first appearances, which make sense, and then the story in which the bad guys get inside the heroes’ heads and find out all about them, this leads to Zatana doing mind wipes and on and on. So, these are pretty integral issues that a lot of later stories hinge on. That being said, I found them to be boring and mostly skimmed through them. The second reason is that these reprints should have been reprinted again in the Final Crisis Companion, which I will get to shortly. That just makes sense, though, right? Might as well make that companion as much of a companion as possible and the first appearances of the two biggest new characters in the story should have their stories told. But, hey, it’s a rad cover, isn’t it? That Ryan Sook dude knows how to DRAW!

MOME VOL. 14 SPRING 2009 (Fantagraphics) Written and drawn by a ton of talented folks
One of the many perks of working at Wizard for a dyed in the wool superhero fan like myself was getting exposed to some of the more alternative sides of comics. Between going through the library and borrowing books from friends who are way more knowledgeable about these things than I am, I feel like I’ve just barely started to uncover the tip of the indie iceberg. So, as you might imagine, I’ve heard a lot about Mome, the indie comics anthology that Fanta puts out (those guys are amazing), but I’ve never read one until Vol. 14 and I definitely liked it. I will be completely honest, I don’t think I understood a lot of these stories, but I kind of like that. It’s like watching an experimental film, but with cool art. By far my favorite strip was called Kool-Aid Comic by Jon Vermilyea. I like the simplicity of it, the subject and the art. It all comes together in a fun little comic, of which you can peep a page or two of below. Fun stuff and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for future Momes.

SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE VOL. 7: THE MIST & THE PHANTOM OF THE FAIR (Vertigo) Written by Matt Wagner & Steven T. Seagle, drawn by Guy Davis
I’ve talked about my love of SMT before, but since then I’ve read the volumes I was missing and have come to like this series even more. For those of you not willing to click the link, SMT follows the Golden Age Sandman as he romps through pre-WWII NYC, fighting bad guys, evading the cops, being a genius, sometimes interacting with other Golden Age heroes (or soon-to-be ones) and sharing his life–both in and out of the gas mask–with his girlfriend Dian Belmont. What I love most about this book, aside from the NYC setting and my love of Golden Age DC characters, is the relationship between Dian and Wesley (Sandman’s real name). I think they’re my favorite couple in all of comics, mostly because they did away with the “keeping the secret identity from the girlfriend” thing. You also get to watch Dian evolve from a spoiled socialite to someone really trying to help the world. But, aside from all that, this volume gives us glimpses of a young, pre-Starman Ted Night and “The Phantom Of The Fair” which is the story that I remember reading about as being one helluva one back in the day from Wizard (they were right). I think you’d be okay if you jumped in here to read this much beloved story, but I highly recommend going back to the beginning. Here’s hoping that Vertigo continues their plans to collect this whole series.

FINAL CRISIS COMPANION (DC) Written by Grant Morrison, Len Wein, Peter Tomasi, Greg Rucka & Eric Trautmann, drawn by JG Jones, Tony Shasteen, Doug Mahnke, Ryan Sook & Marco Rudy
So, this is kind of a weird book. The actual Final Crisis collection is amazing. It’s got everything written by Grant Morrison in one place, while this one has the rest of the stuff that isn’t a regular series tie-in and the FC Director’s Cut which is the first issue without color or word balloons followed by the script. Then you’ve got Final Crisis Secret Files, Requiem and Resist. All these issues are cool on there own, but I do wish this volume was a big more robust. In addition to the reprints I mentioned above, I’d also like to see some of the JLoA and Teen Titan tie-ins included, just to have everything in one place. Ah well, it’ll still get a place on my bookshelf.

NIGHTWING: THE GREAT LEAP (DC) Written by Peter Tomasi, drawn by Don Kramer, Rags Morales, Doug Mahnke, Shawn Moll &
Joe Bennett
I dug Tomasi’s previous Nightwing volume, so I’m not surprised that I dug this second volume. The only problem with it is that it got awkwardly swept up in the Batman: RIP story. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved Morrison’s Batman run, but the tie-ins lost me for the most part, including Nightwing. So, I hadn’t actually read most of these issues when they came out, but I did like the whole story, most of which involves Nightwing’s weird relationship with Two-Face, which is being carried over into todays Batman stories written by Winick. Interesting for sure.

TRINITY 1 (DC) Written by Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza, drawn by Mark Bagley, Scott McDaniel, Tom Derenick & MIke Norton
Trinity got a lot of flack, but I think it’s because it wasn’t what people were thinking it should be. 52 was an amazing look at some smaller characters, giving them new life and making them important again in the DCU, Countdown tried way too hard to be the backbone of the DCU and Trinity turned into this crazy, out-there story featuring all kinds of heroes the casual fan has never heard of. This is just the first series, collecting #1-17 and I will warn you, it’s definitely for big time DC fans and not the feint of heart.

SECRET INVASION: INCREDIBLE HERCULES (Marvel) Written by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente, drawn by Rafa Sandoval
Incredible Herc was one of those books that everyone loves but I missed out on in single issues. By the time I read the first trade, the issues were already into the third or fourth arc, but this, the second (collecting 116-120) collects the Secret Invasion issues. I wasn’t a big fan of SI, especially the ending, but I really liked how Pak and Van Lente flipped the script and looked at the Skrull invasion from a different angle. This time we see it from a religious viewpoint, with Herc and some other gods from regular and Marvel mythologies trying their best to kill the god of the skrulls. It’s a cool story, one filled with plenty of sci-fi goodness, but also some fun nods to mythology of all kinds that make this a really fun and well rounded book.

COUNTDOWN ARENA Written by Keith Champagne, drawn by Scott McDaniel
I’ve loved McDaniel’s art since his Nightwing days. There’s a short arc where NW fights Scarecrow early on that is just amazing and I highly recommend it. So, when I heard the news that DC was going to be putting out a book called Arena, drawn by McDaniel that would pit various versions of heroes against each other to see who would win, I was sold. Turns out this story didn’t have a lot of bearing on the actual Countdown story (as I noted here to some extent), but it remains one of the better looks at the multiverse that’s just been sitting around. I know that there’s been word that they’re waiting for Morrison to get in there and really dig deep on the multiverse at some point, but I’m getting tired of waiting. What’s the point of having it if you’re not going to do anything with it? Also, one quick thing that bothered me about many of the Earths they revealed was that they just took Elseworld books and extrapolated that into an entire universe. There’s an entire universe out there based on the idea that Batman was a vampire. And, hey, I like that original story as much as the next guy, but that doens’t mean it should necesarily get it’s own universe. Does that mean those Elseworlds annuals they put out each have their own universe? The one where Steel was around in the Civil War, Batman was actually Two Face or Superman was straight out the jungle book? It’s just a bummer because it feels like they just copied the original multiverse and added this other ones with haste, which wouldn’t have been a huge deal if they hadn’t limited themselves to just 52. Ah well. This book is definitely only for die-hards. Or maybe just me.

THE NEW TEEN TITANS ARCHIVES VOL. 1 Written by Marv Wolfman, drawn by George Perez
This might be comic book heresy, but I couldn’t even get through this book, which collects DC COmics Presents #26 and New Teen titans 1-8. I think what ruined the book for me is the fact that every Teen Titans writer since has mined this territory so, SO much. The only aspect of this story that was surprising for me was the mystical way in which the team first came together. Beyond that? I’ve seen the Deathstroke stuff and the Trigon stuff before. Several times. Geoff Johns did it and it seems like it’s been done a thousand times since then. And that’s coming from someone who loves Geoff’s Titans. Like, a lot. It’s an amazing book. I just think it’s about time for the Titans to move beyond their 80s roots and maybe make some new villains and get some new characters into the mix. Maybe I’ll put this one back in my “to read” pile and give it another shot somewhere down the line, but I’m not sure yet. For me, it’s just too “been there done that” for me. But man, Perez sure knows how to draw and I stand by my claim that he’s one of the few artists who’s actually gotten better with age. I’ll read any new stuff that guy puts out.