Matt Rawson

Matt Rawson is a writer and artist based in the Washington, DC area. A life-long lover of all things comics, he has been contributing to ComicCritique.Com for nearly a decade and has no intention of stopping now. He is the co-host for the podcast Slabbed: The Podcast Without Fear. Follow him on twitter @roman_watts.

May 032013
 

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In episode 25 of Slabbed: The Podcast Without Fear, Matt puts our subtitle to the test by chatting with horror icon Bill Oberst Jr., seen by millions as the Facebook stalker in the terrifying short film/Facebook App Take This Lollipop. Bill has become a zombie-hunting president in Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies, an ice cold hired killer in Assassins, a pathos-saturated ax murderer in Ditch, a pigeon chested psychopath in The Fetish Set, and a cult leader so unsettling that even the trailer for Children of Sorrow will leave questioning who you can really trust. What he brings to each role is an unapologetic unvieling of the monster that lives below all of our skins, beyond all our egos, and illustrates with resolve that not one among us is unburdened by the potential for great evil. So, sit back and enjoy, and remember . . . don’t blink.

Make sure to keep up with Bill Oberst Jr. on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube!

Listen right here, or look us up on iTunesPodkickerBlubbrry, and now Stitcher! If you listen on Stitcher, make sure to tweet and share that you are listening to Slabbed to all of your friends and followers! We all know they do what you say, you sexy trend-setter!

Need more of Bill Oberst Jr. words of wisdom? Check out his interviews on Episodes 7 and 17 of Route 21!

LIKE the Slabbed! The Podcast Without Fear Facebook page for NEWS, COMMUNITY, and UPDATES!

If you want to support the podcast head on over to iTunes and give us a 5-star rating.

Finally, if you need to shop at Amazon.com, consider shopping through us! Click through our banner anywhere on ComicCritique.Com before your purchase and we get kickbacks without it costing you an extra cent!

Apr 032013
 

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In episode 23, Danny, Matt, and Lou talk about how Matt’s adorable, sweet cats are actualy crazy-ass maniac serial killers, nerdy names for pets, and why some nerds don’t do brackets.

Listen right here, or look us up on iTunes, Podkicker, Blubbrry, and now Stitcher! If you listen on Stitcher, make sure to tweet and share that you are listening to Slabbed to all of your friends and followers! We all know they do what you say, you sexy trend-setter!


 

 

LIKE the Slabbed! The Podcast Without Fear Facebook page for NEWS, COMMUNITY, and UPDATES!

If you want to support the podcast head on over to iTunes and give us a 5-star rating.

Finally, if you need to shop at Amazon.com, consider shopping through us! Click through our banner anywhere on ComicCritique.Com before your purchase and we get kickbacks without it costing you an extra cent!

Mar 122013
 

 

Darick Robertson

Darick Robertson

(Update: Check out the bonus interview I conducted with lead-artist, Montos, at the end of the main interview!

This month will see the return of the iconic 90’s independent series Poison Elves, which has rested in limbo since creator Drew Hayes’ untimely death in 2007. Originally self-published as I, Lusiphur under Hayes’ own Mulehide Press, it went on to reach a wider audience and gain its cult-like status at Sirius Entertainment. Now at Ape Entertainment, under their mature readers imprint Outlaw, the newly resurrected series will be penned by Robb Horan, the head of Sirius Entertainment who was heavily involved with the original series. The art is provided by Montos that, although a departure from Hayes’ style, perfectly captures the darkness, mood, and humor that Hayes had created. Back-up vignettes will be written by Kieth Davidsen, an editor at Sirius Entertainment, and writer of several Poison Elves spin-off series during its original run, with art for the back-ups provided by up-and-comer Shannon Ritchie.I had the opportunity to get in touch with much of the creative team behind the new series and get their take on bringing this much-loved series out of back-issue oblivion. Issue #1 of Poison Elves hits the stands on 3/20/13, so make sure to tell your comic shop to order a copy, as you will not want to miss the adventure in Poison Elves!

Matt Rawson: First off, explain what Poison Elves is exactly, and why it’s such a big deal that it’s coming back.

Robb Horan: Poison Elves is an anachronistic fantasy comic for mature readers created, written and illustrated by Drew Hayes. This cult phenomenon comic ran 100 issues through the 1990s and early 2000’s. A very personal work, it had a wide appeal among indie audiences and freethinkers of all kinds. It was a very ambitious story with a unique style found nowhere else.

It is a big deal that Poison Elves is returning because of the untimely death of its creator in 2007. When Drew passed away at the young age of 38 there was still more than two-thirds of his story left tell. The new series from APE intends to pick up where Drew left off and finish what he started.

Kieth Davidsen: Poison Elves is a gritty fantasy epic in comic form, the brainchild of Drew Hayes, one of the most fiercely independent and

Terry Moore

Terry Moore

fearlessly creative writer/artists in the history of our favorite medium. That sounds awfully heavy-handed, I know, but I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t believe it to be true. Poison Elves introduced a renegade elf Lusiphur, a violent anti-hero nothing at all like the cutesy or virtuous elves of other fantasy tales. Lusiphur’s story is set against a backdrop massive in scope, with an entire world marching to war, but ultimately it’s an intensely personal tale about a damaged but sympathetic person who was dealt a bad hand and fought every day just to stay alive. In that way, the characters mirrored the creator. Drew Hayes himself had a tumultuous life, one that tragically ended before its time. Poison Elves is his legacy, and its return — respectful to his original vision — is a triumph for independent voices everywhere.

MR: What are your roles on the book?

Shannon Ritchie: I am the backup artist on the series.

RH: I am writing the new Poison Elves series. As his publisher of 15 years and a close friend, I am in a position to plot and plan the new series from the extensive notes and background material that Drew left behind, as well as my personal understanding of the man himself.

KD: I’ve been very fortunate and thankful that, when David Hedgecock at Ape Entertainment planned to revive Drew Hayes’ Poison Elves, he asked me to contribute vignettes in each issue. Four pages in length, they are self-contained tales from throughout the established universe, designed to reinforce concepts from the core storyline. The first issue’s back-up story focuses on Lusiphur himself, while issue #2′s installment showcases Petunia, our hero’s diminutive… and deadly… Sprite companion. It’s been a blast revisiting the cast; it feels almost like bar-hopping and getting into trouble with old friends.

MR: How much of Drew’s style, as a writer and a visual artists, influenced your own takes on the characters?

SR: I’m really into continuity, and visual continuity is a really important issue in this field. At least I think so. I’m trying to keep the characters and atmosphere that Drew created as true as I can.

Montos

Montos

RH: The simple answer is to acknowledge that Drew’s original issues influence every aspect of my take on Poison Elves. Drew’s wit, his sarcasm, his insights and the personal experience he invested in the book are all things that inspire me. I will try to offer the same respect to the audience’s intelligence the Drew did. The level of action, the maniacal chaos and the depth of character that Drew imbued upon Poison Elves are also goals I hope to achieve. Yet I am aware that it would be a mistake to attempt to actually imitate Drew. It is a requirement for me and any other creator that works on this property in the future, to bring an honest level of personal self-expression to the new work. That is the best way to remain true to Drew’s style.

KD: Both Robb and I look to Drew’s 100-plus issues as the bible, road map, and style guide for our own work. Honestly, we know that Drew’s voice was wholly unique, and we can’t possibly duplicate it (nor would we be foolish enough to attempt to), but we are dedicated to remaining true to Drew’s vision, and true to the very believable characters he created.

MR: What relationship did you have to the original series?

SR: I had read a few of the issues when they were popular, but that is my only tie to the series when it was under the Sirius banner. I’m playing a pretty mean game of catch up. One of the best things about this is the huge PDF’s Ape is providing me with to get me up to speed.

RH: Sirius Entertainment has had exclusive publishing rights to Poison Elves since 1994. That agreement with Drew was upgraded in 2000 to a controlling interest in the property, so the license for the new series originates there. As the head of Sirius Entertainment I am caretaker to the work and to Drew’s legacy. I take this responsibility very seriously.

KD: As an editor at Sirius Entertainment, which published Poison Elves after Drew’s self-published twenty issue run, I was in a unique position to interact regularly with Drew, and that led to a variety of spin-off projects. I wrote the Poison Elves Encyclopedia; the Hyena and Dominion miniseries with artist Scott Lewis; and the Ventures and Lost Tales miniseries with artist Aaron Bordner. I also became an unofficial “historian” of the series; Drew would bounce ideas off me and rely on my constant re-readings of his work to fact-check his later issues.

PE01_Inks_page01

Page 1

MR: What is the most challenging thing you’ve encountered working to resurrect such a well-loved series? What has been some of the highlights?

RH: Clearly there are very high expectations from long time readers who we have worked very hard to win over. The response from fans that have had a chance to preview the new book have held the bar high but given us their blessing by committing to support it. Balancing that with an appeal to new readers is both challenging and rewarding.

I have spent many long months searching for and discovering what Drew intended for the story. Immersion into the world of Amrahly’nn can be mind bending. My personal involvement with Drew and the original series has sometimes led some very emotional realizations that I will try to bring out in the story.

The highlight has truly been the opportunity to collaborate with other like-minded people, like David and Keith, determined to do justice to the work. As the lead writer I am very fortunate to have so many other talented people to talk with and to cover my ass. As the new artist, Montos is the key contributor and the book would not be possible without his incredible talent. Once again, I am happy to note that I benefit directly from this association!

SR: The most challenging thing has been not telling everyone I know. I’ve known about this for almost two years and haven’t been really suppose to say anything. But that’s also one of the highlights.

KD: My biggest challenge is telling a thorough Poison Elves story in just four pages! I love these characters, and it’s a bit of a tease that just when I’ve gotten reacquainted with Luse, with Petunia, I have to wrap up the story!

PE01_Inks_page02-03_spread

Pages 2 & 3

There have been two major highlights for me. First, Robb is an old friend from the Sirius days, so once we signed onto the new series, we booked a week-long writing and planning sabbatical. We spent the time pouring over Drew’s issues, the notes he left behind, and our own recollection of conversations with Drew. It’s amazing how Drew really did seed the existing material with so many clues to where the story is going. Together, we pieced together the future of the series. Wait ’til you see!

Second, it’s been an absolute pleasure seeing Shannon’s work bring my scripts to life. I can’t rave enough about it! Such a detailed and frenetic style, perfectly giving us the action and violence we crave!

PE01_Inks_page04

Page 4

MR: For the old school fans of Poison Elves, what can they expect from the new series in terms of it continuing the legacy?

SR: For the old school fans…. My art style is pretty gritty. And I think that’s what they want from their Poison Elves.

RH: The legacy of Poison Elves is to continue the series with great art, engaging stories and believable characters, all offered with no bullshit
attached. That’s what I’m expecting and I am one old school fan!

KD: The new Poison Elves #1 picks up right after the last scene that Drew wrote and illustrated. You’ll see familiar faces, but still be surprised where the story takes them. Drew’s untimely passing left fans with a hole in their hearts and a rich epic fantasy unfinished, and while Drew may be gone, we promise to deliver his story — HIS story — in a way that both entertains his audience and pays tribute (and owes everything) to the creator of Poison Elves.

Poison Elves #2

Poison Elves #2

UPDATE:

Here is a bonus interview that I conducted with Montos, artist on the Poison Elves feature stories on his influences, process, and other projects. Enjoy!

Matt Rawson: Who have been you main influences as an artist?

Montos: My influences have basically belonged to Latin American artists (I am Cuban) like Alberto Breccia, Orestes Suárez, Victor de la Fuente, Toppi, Mandrafina, who have been great masters of the [black/white]. My fear is how North American readers will receive this way within the comic book, apparently distant to the way we make comic books here.

MR: I doubt you will find those fears surviving the release of Poison Elves. What other work of yours can readers of Poison Elves find?

M: The first project that I accomplished for Ape was Donarr the Unyielding, some months ago. Fortunately, they liked my work and, after a time, they offered me the possibility to illustrate Poison Elves, a proposal that I consider my real debut within the North American comic book industry, due to the importance of such [a] title for so many fans.

MR: Every artist has their own way for working. Can you give us a run-down of how you go about creating your pages?

M: I go into each sentence or indication in the script thoroughly, because the idioms barrier became a problem sometimes. Next, I make some careless pencilled layouts, the ones that suffer through David Hedgecock’s inspection and Robb Horan (and I am ignorant of how many people further). Next, I go to the pasteboard and I make the pencils that next I ink with a marker pen for almost all the strokes and a nib for the details of figures. Next, my assistant scans them in two parts (my scanner is letter size) and joins them in the Photoshop. Once there I touch up the imagery and I give the grays, although also I use the Corel Painter for given textures in the inking. When I believe that it might be ready, I print it and I show the page to my wife, my parents, and each friend that comes to my study that day and I take their criterium to put any detail they consider defective in order. That’s all folks!

MR: Well, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions, and to let your past and soon-to-be fans behind the curtain a bit!

M: Thanks to you all!

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For even more on this great new series, check out episode 16 of Slabbed: The Podcast Without Fear for an exclusive interview with David Hedgecock, CEO of Ape Entertainment.

 

Feb 162013
 

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In Slabbed: The Podcast Without Fear, episode 19, Danny and Matt send-up the extreme end of free information; people who prefer their artists destitute and starving; and DC Comics, for being so goddamn sue-happy.

Listen right here, or look us up on iTunesPodkickerBlubbrry, and now Stitcher! If you listen on Stitcher, make sure to tweet and share that you are listening to Slabbed to all of your friends and followers! We all know they do what you say, you sexy trend-setter!


logo_facebookLIKE the Slabbed! The Podcast Without Fear Facebook page for NEWS, COMMUNITY, and UPDATES!

If you want to support the podcast head on over to iTunes and give us a 5-star rating.

Finally, if you need to shop at Amazon.com, consider shopping through us! Click through our banner anywhere on ComicCritique.Com before your purchase and we get kickbacks without it costing you an extra cent!

Feb 122013
 

photoRating: ★★★★★

What if your lovely lady could read minds? No matter who you are, fellas, you’d be in a $#!+load of trouble 24/7. That is exactly what happens to Lieutenant Lightning after a mission of daring-do with the clothing-impaired Indestructogirl turns into a night he’d soon like everyone to forget, especially his Omega-level telepath wife. In response to this personal tragedy, Lightning turns to his Avengers-like buddies, Gear-Man and The Manticore. Neither of whom seem particularly equipped to boister someone else’s self-esteem.

In this hilarious super-confessional, writer John Jebus delivers the rarest of all characters, those that act as parody, yet still exist in their own right. The dialogue between the hapless heroes is real, and is never stilted. The reader can gain laughs and insight into these characters with only a few spoken lines. With only one issue to ground this new universe, it still feels like just that, a universe.

The jaw-dropping art of Mervyn McKoy and Dawnson Chen make this indy comic look as if it could stand toe-to-toe with any of the Big Two’s monthly offerings. The characters are as well developed visually as they are internally, and possess a presence and weight that separates wares of a truly skilled artist from one whom is still testing his mettle. In addition to McKoy’s line-work, Dawnson Chen’s brilliant coloring adds a whole other level of life and professional sheen to the work.

I am the type that wants to support every artist sporting unveiled hearts up and down the Artist Alleys, yet am also equally hesitant to approach random tables for which some luscious cover art had drawn me toward it like a moth drawn to a, well, to a damn pretty comic book, only to be met with interior art that could best be described as a nice effort. The C-Listers could not possibly be further from this scenario. The entire book just works on all levels. This one is highly recommended!

Digital copies of The C-Listers can be found at Drive Thru Comics, Graphicly, and Comics Plus, or by contacting Paper Lab Studios.

Jan 242013
 

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In episode 17 of Slabbed! The Podcast Without Fear (@SlabbedPodcast), Matt and Lou* talk with the one and only Walter Koenig about his new graphic novel Things To Come (Bluewater), the similarities and differences between working on Star Trek and Babylon 5, what Harlen Ellison is really like, the ultimate destiny for the human race, and a lot more!

Make sure to click over to Amazon through the banners on this page and purchase Things To Come! You’ll be getting a great book and helping the podcast at the same time! Double win!

logo_facebookLIKE the Slabbed! The Podcast Without Fear Facebook page for NEWS, COMMUNITY, and UPDATES!

If you want to support the podcast head on over to iTunes and give us a 5-star rating.

Finally, if you need to shop at Amazon.com, consider shopping through us! Click through our banner anywhere on ComicCritique.Com before your purchase and we get kickbacks without it costing you an extra cent!

__________________________________________________________________________________ *Where’s Danny? He was busy being a good father during the recording of this episode.

Jan 172013
 

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Ape LogoIn episode 16, Danny and Matt talk with David Hedgecock, CEO of Ape Entertainment, the company responsible for the blockbuster Temple Run Comic app for iOS, fan-favorite The Black Coat, Kung-Fu Panda, Shrek, and the upcoming relaunch of Poison Elves! We discuss what it is like to be head honcho of a successful comic book publishing company and how it all started, how licensed comics really work, and the process of resurrecting the classic independent series Poison Elves. And, as a bonus, if you stick around after the interview, you get more classic comic book banter between our Daring Duo.

If you want to support the podcast head on over to iTunes and give us a 5-star rating. You can find us on Facebook and like us for regular updates. Finally, if you need to shop at Amazon.com, consider shopping through us! Click through our banner anywhere on ComicCritique.Com before your purchase and we get kickbacks without it costing you an extra cent!

Jan 112013
 

Superior_spiderman_1Rating: ★★★★★ (and two extra stars . . . one each for Dan Slott’s vibranium cojones!)

Okay, so Superior Spider-Man #1 is finally here. I’m quite curious how many naysayers out there ended up buying it, despite the rampant fugue of Internet venom that seemed to have been fueled solely by the hype surrounding the book. Beyond that, I wonder how many were swayed back into Dan Slott’s camp, because, frankly, Superior Spider-Man was fantastic.

If the more conservative (dictionary definition, not political) readers out there had their way, nothing would ever happen in the annuls of superhero history, good or bad, because it would inevitably upset their own precious view of the characters in question. Problem is, by its very nature, that is not how dynamic storytelling is produced. The aspect of the hate riot that came out of Amazing Spider-Man #700 that made me hang my head and sigh at the utter stupidity of it all, was the complaint that Marvel would actually, completely and permanently, get rid of Peter Parker.

From the get-go, I trusted Dan Slott. The man is one of the premiere, honest-to-God masters of comic book storytelling. A reader can often jump into part 3 of an arc, and within a few pages have everything he or she needs to know to make the issue enjoyable on its own. That is a rare skill nowadays.

Also, Dan Slott obviously has guts of steel, which any great writer needs to have to be worth his or her salt in the Thunderdome of comic book fandom. He had to have known before he even pitched the twist to Marvel that people would not only be split, but be split to the point of extreme childish conduct. But he stuck to his story. Seriously, that takes guts.

The issue itself read as well as any Slott-penned Amazing Spider-Man, and with fan-favorite Ryan Stegman providing stellar, dynamic art, the combined effort resulted in what could easily contend as book-of-the-month. Like with any comic written by Dan Slott, you don’t have to read anything that came before to ”get it”. If you are, at least, aware of the events that occurred in Amazing Spider-Man #700 and, at this point, who isn’t, comic fan or not, all the better. If you aren’t, stop reading, ’cause I’m gonna spoil it: Doctor Octopus swapped minds with Peter Parker, and now Otto Octavius is living a mirrored life of a hero inside Peter’s body, tempered by his previous villainous existence. There you go. That’s what all the fuss is about. Oh, yeah, and Peter Parker is supposedly dead. This is the kind of great story you can only get in comic books, and that’s why I love them so much.

Give me the progressive, imaginative, and (at the same time) accessible stories that make this medium the greatest in the world. Finally, concerning the big switcheroo, love it or hate, one thing is for certain . . . you sat up and paid attention. In the flood of information we are deluded with every minute of every day, you stopped, and with a serious eye, you paid attention.

Long live Dan Slott, and long may he helm the Friendly Neighborhood, or Dark and Brooding, Spider-Man!

Jan 032013
 

KS_cover_imageUpdate: The campaign is closed and The Black Coat “The Blackest Dye” has been funded! Thank you to everyone who accessed the campaign, and donated, through the links in this feature!  

Kickstarter has become the premiere method for funding independent comic book/graphic novel projects over the past few years, but sometimes it’s hard to find those stellar projects that truly deserve to be brought into the world on the backs of our hard-earned dollars.

The Black Coat: The Blackest Dye is one of those projects. I chatted with writer Ben Lichius and artist Dean Kotz to get the low-down on a book I would love to see make it all the way to the shelves.

First off, for the yet-to-be-initiated, what is The Black Coat?

Ben Lichius: The Black Coat is an action adventure comic published by Ape Entertainment with some deep pulp and Saturday matinee serial kind of roots. It’s about a masked spy in New York City right before the Revolutionary War who fights against the British and the dark forces of the occult. There’s lots of swashbuckling, espionage, crazy inventions, and explosions going on – all with some amazing art and a fun, blockbuster movie style storyline. I describe him as ‘America’s first superspy.’ (Maybe I should trademark that…) Basically, if you like Zorro, Batman, James Bond, Indiana Jones, or anything cool, you’ll like this book!

What are your individual roles on the book?

Ben: I’m writing the book. I’m one of the book’s original co-creators so I’ve been writing from the beginning. I also do a lot of research for the book, so I’m kind of doing a lot of editing as we go too. For the most part though I just try and come up with crazy things for Dean to draw and then cross my fingers that he doesn’t throw things at me via email.

Dean Kotz: I pencil and ink our hero and his 18th century world and do a lot of research to create a believable setting for him to fight monsters and Redcoats.  My goal is to draw pages that have the shadowy mood of a classic pulp adventure.

What is this specific book, The Black Coat: The Blackest Dye, about?

Ben: Our last series, ‘Or Give Me Death’, lead right up to the start of the war at Lexington and Concord. This next volume will, hopefully, be picking up where we left off. We’ll move ahead a few months to when Washington and his troops had control of New York City, but that doesn’t last long, and New York becomes a very dangerous place to be very quickly. I don’t generally push too hard on specific themes, but this time around we’ll be seeing a lot of betrayal (they are spies after all…), and so that’s where we get the title – Washington once described treason as “betrayal of the blackest dye.” We’ve seen some double agents and traitors before, but we’ll definitely see our main characters struggling with issues of loyalty and sacrifice this time around.

What are some of the goodies, other than the warm and fuzzy feeling of helping a great book see the light of day, that people will get if they donate?

Ben: We’ll be introducing some new rewards here shortly, but there’s already a lot to pick from. We’ve been publishing The Black Coat for several years now, so there are plenty of Black Coat stories beyond just this new one. Getting one of the full package rewards will get you almost 300 pages of Black Coat goodness. We also have an exclusive sketchbook, original artwork, custom sketches, a chance to be in the book, or even lunch with me and Dean at Fraunces Tavern in New York City.

If you had one thing to say to a busy potential donator, what would it be?

Ben: If you like comics, if you like action/adventure movies, if you like awesome art and fun stories, then I think you’ll like this book. What more do you want from your comics?

Dean: With so much of the Big Two’s current output being reboots, retreads, and marketing gimmicks, there’s no better time to check out an indie book with creators who really care about their characters and making great comics!
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There you have it folks! The Black Coat: The Blackest Dye is a seriously quality book that needs your help. Stay tuned here on ComicCritique.Com, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts, for an up-coming episode of Slabbed! The Podcast Without Fear for an hour-plus long interview with writer Ben Lichius! In the meantime, with all that Black Coat-goodness in your brain-pan, you know you wanna donate to this awesome project! Follow any of the links scattered throughout this article to do so. Don’t delay! We all know how fast Kickstarter campaigns end.

The Black Coat: The Blackest Dye

Dec 232012
 

Slabbed1-smallMatt has a good long chat with writer Ben Lichius about Hero of Alexandria, The Black Coat, his day job as an Art Director in the Video Game industry, and the new The Black Coat: The Blackest Dye Kickstarter campaign.

If you want to support the podcast head on over to iTunes and give us a 5-star rating. You can find us on Facebook and like us for regular updates. Finally, if you need to shop at Amazon.com, consider shopping through us! Click through our banner below before your purchase and we get kickbacks without it costing you an extra cent!