Signed books available right here?

I’ve considered it for a while, and I’d like to hear thoughts on having signed books available right here in the shop. I know people have reported having trouble with IndyPlanet’s checkout system or would rather get a signed copy from the artist, so I’m opening the idea for discussion.

To clarify, I’d have to markup the price of the books even though I can get them at cost, which is a little over $6, generally. Including shipping to me, that’s not bad. Now, think about it this way: to break even, I’d have to markup the books to about $12 on individual sales. To make a profit, we’re talking $18 – before my own shipping cost is added on. Fortunately, if I can order a bunch at a time, the cost is driven down for me.

This would mean I could do an unsigned book for about $6.50-$7 and a signed book for $7.50-8. A fair price, all things considered. Individual shipping to you via flat-rate (My preferred method because it’s insured!) comes out to $5.75. So, we’re talking $12.25-12-75 and $13.25-13.75 with shipping. Still pretty fair, all things considered.

Why would I reveal the prices? Well, I like letting people know what they’re paying for. I was taught early on “Honesty is the best policy” and I’ve stuck to that consistently for years. I’m being honest with you concerning the prices of these books, but for those who want printed copies and don’t want the hassle of IndyPlanet’s checkout system or want it signed by the artist, well, this would be a golden opportunity, don’t you think?

The other consideration I’ve put out before for discussion is doing a signed book and plush action figure combo pack for $25. I’ve had people agree that would be an extremely good deal, but I’m opening it for discussion again. I really do want as much input as possible on these ideas.

Villain or not? Stygere

Stygere has got the longest fuse of the Keres. His mother and sisters are quick to anger, he isn’t. Instead, he stays angry most particularly at them, for all the arguing. He’s a dangerous enemy, but doesn’t often show anger toward the heroes. In fact, they have a suspicion that he wants to join them against his mother and sisters. He’s left clues to their plans that have helped the heroes out of many deadly traps.

He’s an enigma to the heroes, but among the many things he won’t admit openly is that he does want to rebel against his mother and sisters. Unfortunately, the few times he’s tried, they nearly killed him for it. So, rather than risk life and limb against them, he secretly helps the heroes without their fully realizing it. He’s considered donning a masked identity to confuse both sides. Unfortunately, he figures they’d recognize his voice and he’d simply be in greater trouble.

A small mystery that might nag at the reader of Dream Angel #2 and #3, is how Kaida knew Larissa was in trouble with Ker and several Reprobates. The heroes figure he was simply flying overhead and saw something that looked out of place causing him to land and investigate. What the heroes wouldn’t know is Stygere planted a clue. One that would attract the Pegasus centaur without anyone knowing. He also left an anonymous clue with the local police. Which is connected to the heroes’ communications thanks to Larissa. This, Stygere knows, and put to good use. It’s common knowledge the heroes and police are working together to solve crimes within the city. So he figures anyone could have left the tip and he wouldn’t get blamed.

He doesn’t want to openly help the heroes, so he flies under the radar with subtle hints and clues to tip them off. His mother and sisters are left frustrated when the heroes escape, but he’s secretly pleased.

What do you think? Is Stygere an interesting character? Stygere makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #1, which is available in the shop. Also available in the shop is his plush action figure.

Leopard with a mission: Kumo Hanahadashii

Kumo Hanahadashii is a very, very stubborn leopard. To match, he’s very clumsy. So clumsy, in fact, he makes Kaida seem a great deal less clumsy than he is.

kumoTo compound his problems, he’s madly in love with Cristiane Jewel. On top of everything, he’s fiercely jealous. This mixture makes him big time trouble.

He’s a skilled archer and the first time he meets Dream Angel, he very nearly shoots her down. After she convinces him she doesn’t know where Cristiane is, he decides to help her look and promptly runs face first into a tree.

Unfortunately for him, Cristiane loves Virgo, who loves Athalia. Of course, this creates tension among the cats. Cristiane and Kumo are both leopards, Virgo and Athalia are both tigers. All Virgo and Athalia want is for Cristiane and Kumo to go away, but the two create nothing but trouble for them. Kumo’s jealousy of Cristiane’s affections for Virgo causes him to attempt to fight Virgo for her and Athalia’s caught in the middle.

Virgo’s affection for Athalia isn’t out in the open, it’s subtle and quietly understood between the two. For Kumo, that means he’s interested in Cristiane.

For Dream Angel, Torakatai and everyone else, the entanglement among the four is problematic until they’re directed at Nyxus, the Keres and the assorted creatures they bring along. When that happens, it’s better to stand back and let the cats have their fun as they send them flying the hard way.

Luckily in a fight, Kumo lives up to the translation of his name: Blur Extreme, or more appropriately, extreme blur. Fast with a bow, just as fast with a sword and quite rough on opponents with claws and teeth if he’s disarmed.

Kumo makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #19, which can be found in the shop. It’s a good idea to consider getting the books that came before it, so the story makes sense! Also soon to be found in the shop is his plush action figure.

Police Lieutenant Larissa Arum

Larissa Arum is a tough one by nature, but still a loving mother. They say opposites attract and that is the case with Larissa and her husband Jake. She’s always straight and doesn’t crack jokes. If she does, it’s rare. Jake tells jokes all the time to lighten the mood and get people laughing. Most of all, he loves making Larissa laugh.

larissaHer daughter is more precious to her than even her own life at times. When she found out her daughter’s secret, she vowed to keep it and help her any way she could. She’s kept that vow in many ways. She started by getting Arora some small, lightweight communication equipment. So when she’s out flying around she can even help the police force by reporting problems.

Larissa often makes sure she’s first on the scene to help with crowd control. Also preventing fellow officers from shooting at the wrong target. She has a get-it-done attitude and there aren’t many who’d argue with her.

In practice fights, Jake and Larissa are an even match. Both are masters of self-defense and hand-to-hand fighting in various forms. Between the two, Arora is well trained in the defensive arts. Larissa stepped up her daughter’s training when she learned her secret. She explained to Jake that it was time she learned the more advanced techniques. Having mastered the ones Arora had been learning from Larissa all along. Jake accepted that and also stepped up his daughter’s training.

If there’s one thing Larissa hates, it’s repeat offenders. She’s stern with the first timers, but if she catches a repeat offender, they get a much tougher attitude. Nothing that could be “police brutality,” just enough to discourage another repeat offense. A good amount of the time, the repeat offender doesn’t repeat again after meeting her.

What do you think? Is she an interesting character? She makes her debut comic book appearance in Dream Angel #1, which is available in the shop. Also available in the shop is her plush action figure.

Tragic victim: vampire cockroach

cockroach vampireVampire cockroaches are unfortunate creatures. I know, the first thought for a cockroach is usually “EWWWW!!” Here’s some food for thought, though: roaches’re excellent survivors. Which would make them more difficult than ever to kill if they were undead vampires.

These roaches are roaches through unfortunate circumstances, too. They’re the victims of Jerigel SwampFang’s third bite. Unlike most vampires, it takes three bites for him to completely control his victims. As a result, they become cockroaches. The only thing these victims keep of their humanity is their height.
If anything, these unfortunate creatures should be pitied. There’s no known cure for their condition and killing them is far more difficult than if they were normal roaches.

The one thing these roaches fear above all is spiders. If they should see one, they become uncontrollable. The larger the spider, the harder they are to control.
One important ability besides turning their own victims into roaches for an hour, is being able to change form. They’re able to temporarily resume their human form during the day, but only if Jerigel allows it.

Over the years, these victims are those who tried to rebel against Nyxus. Some got in Jerigel’s way, and others Nyxus wanted to just make disappear. Since Nyxus controls Jerigel and he controls roaches, rebels are then made to do her bidding.

Once Jerigel controls a victim as a roach, they have no free will of their own. In fact, they cannot do anything without him knowing about it. The control is complete and permanent as far as anyone knows. Even Ryu doesn’t know of a cure to change these unfortunate victims human again.

These roaches are today’s daily deal. Aren’t they interesting characters? Won’t you take pity on them? They just want your love! they make their comic book debut in Dream Angel #7, which is available in the shop. It’s a good idea to get the books that came before it so the story makes sense! Also found in the shop is the plush action figure of these creatures.

One-of-a-kind vampire: Jerigel SwampFang

jerigelJerigel SwampFang’s origin is a complete mystery. Not even Nyxus knows how he came to be. In reality, his origin is as simple as a ten-stripe June beetle.

At the time I came up with Jerigel SwampFang, I was enjoying the Sera Muun Musical Last Drakul Jyokoku. It’s part of a trilogy centered around the vampire Dracula – as Sailor Moon encounters him.

I will formally admit I found both the actor and the character fascinating. I developed an interest in vampires and found that the mythology does not include insects. This I found funny because nature is full of insect vampires, starting with the mosquito and flea.

When I found the June beetle, I thought it was a beetle whose nickname is “Hell insect.” Well, what better for a vampire? They’re considered creatures from Hell and on top of it all, they’re undead. So, I read up on vampires, scrounged up every vampire movie I could find and studied up a bit.

Sure, there’s a good many ways to kill a vampire, but how do you kill an insect vampire? A wooden stake wouldn’t necessarily penetrate the exoskeleton, holy water and a cross is mostly superstition (look it up, if you don’t believe me). Fire only works when the vampire becomes ash and that takes time – how long do you really think an insect vampire would be contained? Probably not long enough, I think.

Superhuman strength comes with being a vampire, so it’s like containing Superman. A sock in a river? Bugs don’t wear socks, so why would he care? Sunlight is another that’s superstition.

Admittedly, I haven’t figured out how to kill the insect vampire, but his power is most intriguing. Aside from speaking in mirror speech – meaning you need a mirror to understand what he says in the comics – his third bite is what finalizes his control over his victim. On top of the control his third bite gives, it also transforms the unfortunate person into a cockroach leaving nothing of their humanity except their height.

What do you think? Is Jerigel an interesting character? He makes his comic book debut in Dream Angle #4. Getting the books that came before it is highly recommended so the story makes sense. Also available in the shop is his plush action figure.

Leopard with a mission: Kumo Hanahadashii

Kumo Hanahadashii is a very, very stubborn leopard. To match, he’s very clumsy. So clumsy, in fact, he makes Kaida seem a great deal less clumsy than he is.

kumoTo compound his problems, he’s madly in love with Cristiane Jewel. On top of everything, he’s fiercely jealous. This mixture makes him big time trouble.

He’s a skilled archer and the first time he meets Dream Angel, he very nearly shoots her down. After she convinces him she doesn’t know where Cristiane is, he decides to help her look and promptly runs face first into a tree.

Unfortunately for him, Cristiane loves Virgo, who loves Athalia. Of course, this creates tension among the cats. Cristiane and Kumo are both leopards, Virgo and Athalia are both tigers. All Virgo and Athalia want is for Cristiane and Kumo to go away, but the two create nothing but trouble for them. Kumo’s jealousy of Cristiane’s affections for Virgo causes him to attempt to fight Virgo for her and Athalia’s caught in the middle.

Virgo’s affection for Athalia isn’t out in the open, it’s subtle and quietly understood between the two. For Kumo, that means he’s interested in Cristiane.

For Dream Angel, Torakatai and everyone else, the entanglement among the four is problematic until they’re directed at Nyxus, the Keres and the assorted creatures they bring along. When that happens, it’s better to stand back and let the cats have their fun as they send them flying the hard way.

Luckily in a fight, Kumo lives up to the translation of his name: Blur Extreme, or more appropriately, extreme blur. Fast with a bow, just as fast with a sword and quite rough on opponents with claws and teeth if he’s disarmed.

Kumo makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #19, which can be found in the shop. It’s a good idea to consider getting the books that came before it, so the story makes sense! Also soon to be found in the shop is his plush action figure.

When is a hero not a hero? When she’s Arora Arum!

Arora Arum is our hero Dream Angel when she’s not Dream Angel. At first, an ordinary school girl attending high school and getting good grades. Of course her life changed when she got the power to become Dream Angel.

Arora Arum

After high school, Arora turned her attention to being a full-time superhero. Unfortunately, this meant setting personal goals and ambitions aside for the most part. It also meant setting aside seeking a job, since a fight could break out and she’d be late. Fortunately, her self defense experience and friendship with local martial arts dojo owners means she could get a job as an instructor without much trouble.

She’s a bright, artistic type of girl, so when she’s not out pounding bad guys, she’s drawing, painting and even training with her retired wrestling champion father.
Having a wrestling champion father and police lieutenant mother, she’s been well trained all her life in self defense. Add in training with the tiger people as Dream Angel and she could handle most situations without transforming reasonably well.

Arora is named after the goddess Aurora, but her name is spelled differently on purpose. Her last name is also Latin for gold, making her literal name Golden Goddess of the Dawn. This ties in to her power as Dream Angel, but it also led to teasing in school.

Although she didn’t pay much attention to most of the teasing and the teasers eventually gave up, one refused to stop teasing and bullying. Gina SweetFace bullies Arora about everything she could think of every time she sees her. Even after graduating high school, if Arora found Gina anywhere, the bullying would resume. Despite never formally graduating high school, Gina bothers Arora more than Nyxus ever could.

Arora’s quiet charm and fun-loving nature earned her many friends even as Dream Angel. Her debut appearance in comic books is as Dream Angel in Dream Angel #1, available in the shop. Also in the shop, you’ll find Arora Arum as a plush action figure. She waits only for you and loves hugs. Will you give her a hug?

Anatomy of a plush action figure

All the human plush action figures in the shop mention having a wire armature, but I’ve come across people who don’t know what that means. So, let’s explore that and learn what it means, shall we?

If you haven’t explored the shop, I suggest you do. The plush action figures are an impressive sight. The question is, what do I mean when I say they’ve got a full body wire armature?

I’m sure you’ve seen a normal rag doll – limp, soft, cuddly – right? Most people know about Raggedy Ann and Andy. They’re prime examples of rag dolls. What’s that got to do with the plush action figures and what’s the difference? Let’s analyze that.

A doll (stuffed, of course) is limp, soft and cuddly. This one isn’t stuffed yet, but quite limp. If stuffed as it is, it would still be pretty limp, soft and cuddly, but not capable of being posed. There’s our key difference.

Looks like a stick figure, doesn’t it? Well, in place of a full skeleton, this wire gets to play the part of one. This goes inside that limp body and makes it stiff but still flexible. Sure, there’s still flexibility limits – how far the fabric and thread will stretch with the wire – but with this wire inside, the figure becomes more than a doll. It starts to become a plush action figure. Okay, in doll making terms, that would translate to art doll, but since we’re talking comic book characters, plush action figure sounds better, right? Moving on to the armature inside the body now.

Not so limp anymore, but kinda flat, right? Let’s finish the job, but pardon the nudity! We’re not done yet.

From here, underwear is sewn on. Along with hair. The face is sculpted and painted. Even some body details are sculpted. Once dressed, this character is ready for his close up! Carefully posed, yes, he could possibly stand on his own, but having a stand to help is always better. Let’s take a look at some finished examples:

The ever-charming Dream Angel looks beautiful, doesn’t she? Yep, she’s got that wire inside and if you look closely at her knees, they’ve been needle sculpted and so has her face. Yep, she’s in the shop and quite available for purchase as Arora with her Dream Angel outfit also available for purchase.

This gentleman and his two brothers are quite the spectacular sight. Like Dream Angel, they sport the wire in their bodies, but in his case, it’s that stunning red dragon on the back of his shirt that’s the real eye-catcher. He’s in the shop along with his brothers. This fellow’s Restu Sazaisaki.

Miss Pink Hammer here demonstrates just how interesting the wire armature can be as she holds a cool pose to show off her hammer. She’s also in the shop.

As you can see, these plush action figures are a lot more interesting and full of surprises than an ordinary doll. On top of the wire, they have one more interesting feature that’s available, though: magnetic hands.

This feature is more for older collectors than kids, though, because the magnets are powerful and the accessories they enable the figures to hold quite small at times. For example, the weapons available in the shop are frequently small.

Small, and yes, can cause harm despite being soft like the figures that can hold them.

Fascinating, aren’t these action figures? Can plastic figures boast half as much flexibility? Perhaps larger ones might, but can they be hugged at night? No. Can they be washed when they get dirty? Not too easily. Well, there you have it. This should unravel the mystery of the plush action figures. Awesome, aren’t they?

Warrior of mystery: Techwarrior

techwarriorTechwarrior is a warrior of mystery, but then, what ninja isn’t? History shows that real ninja were highly skilled specialized assassins. Well, Techwarrior might not keep the assassin aspect of his real-world counterparts, but he is a highly skilled warrior.

Not too much is known about his background except that he’s a strong anti-virus living inside computers to defend them from attack. As the books quickly establish, he’s a strong fighter. Along the way, he enjoys making little jokes to help lighten the mood as well.

An important counterpart to him is Sensei the dragon, who is his mentor and trainer. Very fast and extremely agile, this dragon provides a great deal of guidance when things go wrong for our hero. Luckily, he also knows when to stand back and let Techwarrior do what needs to be done, as well.

Techwarrior’s other important counterpart, could also be part love interest… maybe. Aishi Teru is almost as skilled as Techwarrior himself, but what she lacks in skill she makes up for in cleverness. Her key weakness is snakes, though. Being scared to death of snakes (to the point of jumping into Techwarrior’s arms!) makes her very vulnerable. Her reason for this fear is quite tragic, though.

As Techwarrior might explain it, his counterparts are his heart and soul. Take away even one and he’s terribly restless and uneasy. Injure one and the injuring party had better be extremely careful.

There’s a hint of magic in Techwarrior’s world, but most of it is technology. Most of it is very sleek and polished, as well.

What do you think? Is he pretty cool? His plush action figure (both of them) is available in the shop. You’ll also find he’s got 5 books and a 5 book collection in the shop as well.