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Dollar Bin Discoveries with Special Guest Sarah Cooke

Mike: I told Sarah that when I die, she can just stare at me in the backyard. It's fine.

Jessika: Listen, sir, there are, ordinances •

Mike: Welcome to Ten Cent Takes, the show where we destroy dollar bins one issue at a time. My name is Mike Thompson, and as always, I am joined by the ten cent terror herself, jessica Fraser.

Jessika: That's as terrifying as I can muster at this point.

Mike: It's a Tuesday, but it is Spooky season. We are recording this in October.

Jessika: That's why you got some gusto, I feel.

Mike: Exactly. Well, if you are new to the show, our main episodes drop every other week and provide in depth looks at, uh, interesting moments in comic books and then examine how they tie into pop culture and history. But today it's one of our Dollar Bin discoveries. Many episodes that we do in between those deep dives, basically, we spend a lot of time rooting through dollar bins at local shops, looking for interesting stuff to COVID And while a lot of the issues that we find are fun and weird, there may not be enough for us to do a deep dive on, at least at the moment. We reserve the right to change our mind later on and come back and do a larger episode. Each episode features both of us and guests talking about one random issue that we have come across in the dollar bins, and we look at what it is, what goes on inside it, and why it's interesting. And today we have our first guest on Dollar Bin Discoveries. I'm very pleased to be joined on our dollar bin hunt by one of my oldest friends, Sarah Cook.

Sarah: Hi.

Mike: Sarah. Uh, and I know each other from high school. When did we start hanging out? Was it like sophomore year?

Sarah: Sophomore year sounds about right, I think.

Mike: Yeah. Well, we were on the school paper together. We were winter formal dates. It was a thing. But Sarah, take a minute to introduce yourself and tell our listeners about your history in the comics industry.

Sarah: Hi. Uh, so, yeah, uh, as far as, uh, my history in comics, um, it started, well, going way back, uh, to 2013 or 14, I think it was. Uh, I started a, a blog with a friend of mine and a writing partner, Amy Danzero, and we were just blogging about fantasy and Sci-Fi and comics, kind of trying to build up some writing samples. And from there I went on to do a little bit of writing for, like, CBR and screen rant and den of Peak. And then I was living in New Jersey at the time and went to the, uh, live recording of the Comic Book Club podcast. And Judy, uh, Stevens, who was a digital producer at Marvel at the time, was a guest, and I, uh, hung around a little bit afterwards and talked to her. She was super nice and stayed a little late and chatted with me a little bit and recommended I pitch some articles to their digital team, which I did. So I've been writing for since about 2016. I reported live from New York and San Diego comicons a couple of times. I've m done some writing for DC and women Write about comic. I had an article about line art and visual storytelling and how to analyze the review of comic. And, um yeah, I think that is most of my history, uh, in comics.

Mike: Yeah. And your writing partner, Amy, uh, the two of you have a short film that has been just taken the film festival circuit, kind of by storm.

Sarah: It's been exciting. Yeah. It's, uh, a web series and we produced the pilot for it back in 2020. And it's been making the rounds at the festivals and it's won some awards. It's pretty exciting. It's not viewable yet just because the rules of these festivals don't want it screened publicly until it screens there, but it will be available to the public eventually. Um, and we'd love to crowdfund and make more episodes eventually.

Mike: What's it called?

Sarah: Yeah, it is called, uh, my human experience. It's a Sci-Fi comedy about an alien who's on earth trying to figure out what it means to be human. A little bit of a fish out of water.

Mike: Yeah. I've seen you and Amy posting about it, so I'm really thrilled that it's been going as well as it has been. And you just launched a Kickstarter for your first comic book, right?

Sarah: Yes, just today. Today was launch day. It's no spell last forever. It's the comic. It's, uh, noir urban fantasy. It's my first comic. I wrote a couple of scripts before this, but they weren't really to the point where I wanted to move ahead with them and actually get them made. So this is my first one that's actually being made. Um, and it's really exciting. The campaign is already doing really well. Better than I was expecting. It's looking good. It's pretty exciting.

Mike: Yeah. Well, we're really excited for you. And we'll have a link to the Kickstarter in the show notes, and we'll be promoting it all across social media. So if a noir urban fantasy sounds like something that you might be interested in, I highly recommend you go check it out.

Jessika: Um, hello. That should be all of you.

Mike: Exactly. It wasn't really a suggestion.

Jessika: No.

Mike: It was a thinly veiled order. Okay. Sarah, since you were the guest of honor, would you like to share your dollar bin discovery?

Sarah: Um, sure. So, it is from 1994, I believe. I got it at a con a while back. It is Shadow of the Bat, number 28, which is from Nightquest. And obviously, night quest is night quest and nightfall. And that whole era is pretty iconic. But I feel like this is one of the issues that maybe get overlooked a little bit or not remembered as much as some of the other ones. But I think it's one of the most like, emotionally memorable ones. I feel like it's one of the kind of it's for me, it was pretty emotionally impactful. It focuses more on, um, Gordon. So it's right after, uh, spoilers. Anyone hasn't read Night Quest from 1994. John paul valley is Batman. Bayern has broken Bruce's back. And it's right after John Paul lets Albatoire die. And it's kind of the fallout from that. So it opens with John Paul Valley talking about how he feels righteous about doing that. He doesn't feel bad that Abattoir died. And then we kind of go on and we see a little bit at the GCPD and a lot of Jim Gordon being tired. Then we get a little scene with the Rat gang, which I love the name of the Rat gang. And there's this line, if I can find it, I think I marked it. That's just so like 90s criminal dialogue.

Mike: We love that around here.

Sarah: Yeah. The leader of the rat. So he says, uh, talking about this plan, they have to basically terrorize a bunch of fancy restaurants and just keep on terrorizing them until they start paying them to leave them alone. So he's like and um, we're long gone before the heat comes down. And tomorrow why we just call these fancy restaurants and tell them they get the same thing every night until they start paying us the big buck. We're going to be millionaire playboys in no time. It's just so like 90s.

Mike: Who wrote this?

Sarah: It's, uh, Alan Grant.

Mike: Uh, he's like a legit writer.

Sarah: Sounds good.

Jessika: I can think of like 15 holes in that skiing M at least.

Mike: Do you ever stop and think that for a lot of these comics, everybody was just mentally checked out at this point where they're just like, whatever. We just need to pump out content so that people will keep on buying our shit.

Sarah: I think it gets to that point. And then Brett Levins on pencils and Adrian Royon colors, which I did not mention earlier. So yeah, you've got that scene with the rats. Then you've got my favorite part of the issue, which is this super dramatic rooftop scene with Gordon and John Paul Valley. And Gordon is saying, like, I know you're not the real Batman because the real Batman wouldn't let Albatar die. And John Paul is basically saying again that he's like 100% sure that he did the right thing and feels no regret for it, which is creepy. So Gordon gets mad and goes to punch him and kind of slips and falls off the rooftop. And John Paul grabs him and he's like, if I really didn't care about human life, like you say, then I just let you fall right now. But he pulls him up, you leave. And uh, as he's leaving, he's like, don't use the signal again unless it's important. You know what they say about the boy who cried wolf which is like, heartbreaking, I feel like really shows that he not only does he not see him as like, a valuable ally, he just sees him as someone who's getting in the way. Then John Paul Valley goes off and kind of takes out his anger at Gordon on on the rats and these other, like, petty criminals and just kind of like, unleashes on them. Then you get a scene with Gordon basically talking again about how he feels about all of this, and the narration saying that he feels betrayed, which I'm a big Jim Gordon fan, so that was sad for me. And betrayed because Bruce didn't tell him that someone else would be under the cowl. And obviously he's not going to say it's this guy John Paul Valley, but he didn't give him a heads up at all. And now he feels like he's not really part of the he's an outsider. He couldn't even be trusted with that information. Then you get another little scene with John Paul basically saying that he's just going to go out and do more of the same. And, uh, that's the end. And yeah, kind of like I was saying, it's a pretty iconic era of Batman, but I feel like this is one of the issues that has a big emotional impact, both because of Gordon and also because it's really kind of the turning point for Don Paul. And we start to really see what direction he's going in as Batman. And it's not good. And it's, I think, one of my favorite issues in Night Quest, actually. Even though maybe one of the less less memorable ones in some ways, but memorable to me.

Mike: Wow.

Jessika: Great find.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, it's great. It's funny because I don't think I ever read Nightquest all the way through. I remember reading the novel adaptation of it.

Sarah: Oh, nice.

Mike: Because we were doing like, a bunch of road trips in the summer and so I would just get these novels at the start, just kind of tear through them. Yeah, that's cool, man. I'll have to go through and reread that. I keep on me to do that. And, uh, the death in Return of Superman.

Sarah: M. Yeah.

Mike: All right, Jessica, you're up.

Jessika: I found one that I thought was interesting. Um, it's called mercury heat. It was issue number one. It's written by Kieran Gillen. And Omar Francia does art. Uh, Digicor Studios does color, and Kurt Hathaway does letters. So this was published in 2015, but according to the information and the inside of the issue that was first conceived in 2008, it's a big load of propaganda. If I do say yeah, um, the first thing she says to anyone is, I'm a police. Like, oh no, this is really setting a tone. You know what I'm saying? And then the villain comes out of nowhere and she immediately kills him. That didn't age well. That certainly didn't age well. Yeah, I know. It's real rough. The art is fine, but it's so abrupt. The graphic nature of this is so abrupt. She's just like, oh, there's brains on this page. That was intense. I don't mind that. But it was just like up until that point, it wasn't like she punched a guy in the face for like, calling her sexy or whatever in a different language. But fine. Like, yeah, I approve of that. That's great. We should definitely have more of that. But yeah, it was pretty intense. And it just felt very pro cop. Felt very military cop. Like m I don't know. Felt away. Maybe it's just the climate now.

Mike: I mean, remember how we were talking about dread and, uh, how that used to be one of my favorite movies of all time? And I'm like, I haven't really watched it for the past three years or so. I was like, oh yeah, the timing lines up. M.

Jessika: Uh uh. It's a thing. It happened. I'm not going to seek out any more issues.

Mike: But the price was right for this one.

Jessika: Yeah, the price was definitely right for this one. And I'll show you the COVID And I mean, this is why it's very Sci-Fi. Oh, yeah, it's very cool, right? It has kind of a throwback, kind of a yeah.

Mike: Karen Yellen is like a really good writer, too. He's been doing The Wicked and the Divine, and he did die, and he did Journey Into Mystery, which is the one with Kid Loki, which is still, I think, one of the best runs that I've ever seen put to paper.

Jessika: The way this was written was interesting. It was written through kind of her suit, like giving specs about things like either the environment or giving advice or something. But there's one point where it's like her little and this is where I'm like, uh, where does this tech come from? Because in her tech stuff, whatever she's wearing, it tells her like, oh, basically you shouldn't trust this guy. And I was like, yeah, but where's that information coming from? Where's that drawing that information from? Because you're really just going out of whim.

Mike: It feels yeah, that feels kind of like a, uh, RoboCop with the OCP programming. And it's like, oh, you can't actually kill the corporate employees because they own the tech and all that.

Jessika: Yeah. So I don't know, it's just a little weird. It made me get away.

Mike: Sounds uncomfortable.

Jessika: It sure was. And she had a bare midriff for, uh, like a chunk of it. I was like, come on. Like 2015? Really? Come on. I can't with this.

Sarah: M.

Jessika: So, yeah, that was my disappointing dollar. I mean, my dollar find. All right, Mike, what about you?

Mike: Okay, so this one wasn't a dollar bin find. It actually came from one of my friends who he buys comic lots and he takes the stuff that is like really high grade worthy and noteworthy comics. And he'll get them graded and then he resells them. So he'll a lot of times buy large lots of stuff on ebay or from storage lockers. And then he's going through it and he's like, hey, um, I found some weird shit. And I'm like, yeah, I'm like, send it my way, buddy. And so about once a month I receive a care package of random stuff. Or it's also like other comics that are not quite in that nine six to nine eight grade. And I mean, they're still great and it's a lot of fun because a lot of it's like 90s trash.

Sarah: That's very cool.

Mike: So he sent me an issue of Poe number one.

Sarah: Poe?

Mike: Yeah, Poe. It is a comic from Cheese Comics, which was a ah, publisher out of Wisconsin. It's from 1996. This is the only comic that came out under the Cheese imprint. And it is written and illustrated by Jason Asala. It is a black and white comic. It's very much an indie book from this era. And it tells the story of Edgar Allen Poe after his love, Lenore dies. And like, you know, Lenore was not the name of his actual wife, but it's assumed that Lenora was the metaphor for his wife, um, after she died. And so he's in true Edgar Ellen Poe fashion, he's being the mopeus moper who ever moped. And he is drinking at her grave and he silently thinks about how he'd give anything to have her back. And then the angel of Death, I think it's not really explained, appears and basically starts haunting him. Chases him out of the graveyard, shows up at his house and he tells PO that if he wants to see his love again, he needs to hunt, um, down demons. And then that's where the story ends, is with him preparing for this journey. It's only twelve pages. And then there's a second part of the book that's another twelve page story. And it's basically PO recounting his adventures at the end of his journey to this kid. And he's just kind of giving like the highlight reel talking about like uh, I dealt with politicians and Native Americans and I traveled in a hot air balloon across the ocean and blah, blah, blah. And he's got some scars and stuff. And so it, it ends with Poe telling this kid, oh, if you ever have the opportunity to change the world, don't hesitate, you should. And then he walks off. And then it's revealed that he was talking to a very young John Wilkes Booth.

Jessika: Okay.

Mike: Uh, the issue is weird and it definitely like you read it and you're like this was made by someone with a lot of enthusiasm, but I'm not sure about their industry know how. And it turns out that this series ran for like six issues and then it started up again under another couple of imprints and ran through 2000 and had like 24 issues. I have no idea what they're like, it's just it was an absolute wild fine. And then I was looking at it and I realized that this copy that I got sent, it's signed. So that's what that's going in the very important section of, uh, the trash pile.

Jessika: Goodness, yes.

Mike: And for those of you who don't know, the trash pile is what I call my collection.

Sarah: Just think we need to start more comics with people drinking in graveyards.

Jessika: Absolutely.

Mike: Does your comic start with people drinking in graveyards?

Sarah: It does not. But maybe issue two will. Excellent, because I can do some edits.

Mike: Yeah. So that is another episode of Dollar Bin discoveries. Thank you so much for coming along and hanging out with us. And we will be back next week where we will be talking about something else with a historical deep dive. I don't want to spoil it because I feel like if I spoil it, there's going to be people who are going to guess what Jessica and I got angry about.

Jessika: Yeah. So much anger, so much seething rage.

Mike: For so many different reasons. It's so good. Sarah, thank you so much for joining us on the episode.

Sarah: We really appreciate you taking for having me.

Mike: Uh, but until then, take care of yourselves and we will see you in the stacks.

Jessika: Thanks for listening to Tencent Takes. Accessibility is important to us, so text transcriptions of each of our published episodes can be found on our website.

Mike: This episode was hosted by Jessica Fraser and Mike Thompson and edited by Jessica Fraser. Our intro theme was written and performed by Jared Emerson Johnson of Bay Area Sound. Our credits in transition music is Pursuit of Life by Evan McDonald and was purchased with a standard license from Premium Beat. Our banner graphics were designed by Sarah Frank that you can find at uh,

Sarah: If you want to support no Spell Lasts Forever. Number one, the URL on Kickstarter is tiny. Ccnospell you can find me on Instagram, at Sarah Cookwriter and at Nospell Comic and on Twitter at Sarah Cook Wright and on substat at Ah sarahlinsycook

Mike: And we will include links to all those in the show notes.

Jessika: If you'd like to get in touch with us, ask us questions or tell us about how we got something wrong, please head over to or shoot an email to tencent You can also find us on Twitter. The official podcast account is tencent takes. Jessica is jessica witha and Jessica's public k and Mike is Van Sal. V-A-N-S-A-U.

Mike: If you'd like to support us, be sure to download, rate and review wherever you listen. Stay safe out there and support your local comic shop.


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