The Whole Marvelous Super Ultra Cosmic Magical Comic Book Universe

The forge of creativity & business that was Marvel Comics was a synchronic chord sounded by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and all the authors and artists and inkers and colorists who worked there. It all started during the early 1960’s when the Fantastic Four and Spider-man and the X-men (The Uncanny X-Men) were formed from the imagination of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

X-men was a box office smash last summer. I’m sure you also remember the highly successful Hulk TV show.

The earliest X-men consisted of Jean (Marvel Girl) Grey (who later became the extremely popular Phoenix), Professor X (Xavier), Cyclops (Scott Summers), the intelligent Beast (Hank McCoy), and Iceman (Bobbie). Mutants born with special “super-mutant” abilities.

Later came the New Mutants with younger characters possessing mutant powers that sometimes seemed to possess them (the only type of comic book story I don’t like).

These characters from X-men including (Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Storm, Banshee, Kitty) evolved with the advent of the creativity of John Byrne (starting in issue #108 of X-men) and Chris Claremont (Giant Sized X-men #1 and Uncanny X-men #94 now valued at $500. up in “mint” condition. The most popular character was the main star in the X-men film–Wolverine. There is sure to be a sequel for this box office smash.

X-men Comics taught kids that prejudice is evil. People who live in fear and thus greed try to destroy that which they don’t understand.

Interesting that both the most recent Star Wars film and X-men film took a hard look at politicians (Congress). If power corrupts absolutely is it possible our system is absolutely corrupt? The Senator in the X-men film learned his lesson a little late.

Spider-man–the new Marvel film in the works–is about a kid who with usual teenage angst (bullies beating him up, not getting any babes, acne and so forth is mild stuff compared to today’s school experiences–such as not getting shot & killed while going to or attending school or being seduced by a deadly drug or infected by a killer disease) is merely bitten by a radioactive spider (radical stuff for the early 1960’s).

This gives Peter Parker super powers–insect powers–if amplified a man could lift a truck and carry it 20 miles as ants do. (Don’t get me started talking about Henry Pym the Antman who became Giant Man in the Marvel’s Avengers ((Capt. America, Thor the Thunder God etc.))). Add to that Peter Parker was also a brilliant student who was able to invent a web shooter and other great inventions. And Spider-man was born as a bi-product of the bi-product known as radioactive material (which Science still doesn’t know how to get rid of). (Try telling that to the Bush administration). Everything is energy! Remember Tesla coils.

But Marvel was not the only place parading superpowered characters.

D.C. Comics (Time Warner), too, utilized mythology and stories of Biblical proportions to entrain, energize and excite generations of teenagers, kids and adults from the 1940’s to present.

Some characters such as Superman, Atom, Flash, Batman, Green Lantern, JLA and others & even D.C.’s version of Capt. Marvel may have been inspired by spiritual literature which told of Hindu Gods and Goddesses and even Biblical personages who could stand in fire etc.

Scripts & Wit

Super Heroes: originating through human imagination and from literature, mythology, religion.

Though probably comic creators just made up their wondrous stories.

Once when I interviewed Gerry Conway for the Comics Journal he admitted to me that he had researched some of the comics he wrote. Conway’s friend partner Roy Thomas no doubt researched Conan and Thor and other material while writer & editor at Marvel. They worked together on the great animated Fire and Ice film. (Ralph Bakshi/Frank Frazetta).

And initially Thomas got the Conan property over to Marvel from Edgar Rice Burroughs in Tarzana, CA. (Tarzana–Tarzan…get it? Yep, it too is a comic.)

Older folk know and love the countless Films and TV shows and serials featuring these and other favorite colorful characters: Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Commander Cody (which may have inspired the Rocketeer comic and film).

COMIC BOOKS — Born by the sheer exhurberance of the Universe itself through the vehicle of the Human Being!

The Comic Industry is a metaphor for life. A cosmic drama unfolding. But not to put old wine into new bottles: Many times in the past Marvel and D.C. have teamed to do specials that benefits the play of creativity. I first met Stan Lee while I was the manager of a Comic Book Store in Studio City, California in the 1970’s.

Or, more accurately, I met him through his works at Marvel Comics — his extraordinary scripts & wit in 1961.

Very clever interaction with the fans through clubs and letter columns in the good old days made one feel as though one was a part of something. With Merry Marvel “we belonged.”

Stan Lee’s stories contained real life character’s, complete with dilemmas and the germ of great new ideas and principles for living a good life.

As when Spider-man didn’t stop a Burglar — the same Burglar who later killed his kind Uncle–Peter Parker (Spider-man) got the message — serve mankind. With great power comes responsibility.

And responsibility is the ability to respond.

Exciting fictional stories full of adventure and excitement with morals. Illustrated profusely.

Marvel Super characters were at first looked on by society as bad guys. Even after saving human butt thousands of times.

J. Jonah Jameson (cheap Editor of the Daily Bugle newspaper) has hated Spider-man for over 30 years. Jameson actually tried to destroy Spider-man by becoming a super villain.

Daredevil (blind Attorney yet Batman-esque in abilities & physical strength and agility–but with heightened senses) the Man without fear was often branded a villain too at first.

As was the ever popular Incredible Hulk — first immortalized as a comic book during the 1960’s. Who ranged from dull and stupid to near genius depending on the decade in which this enduring character is read.

What we fear we often regard as evil.

Comics have tried to teach us that the means are as important as the ends they produce.

What we do along the way determines the end result we will get. Comics are published because a word sounds good to the publisher. But some of these new young independent publishers need to know more about the meaning within these words (and so do their customers). But more power to these enterprising youngsters.

What is Yoga, Meditation, Tai Chi, Mantra? What is Zen? (One young upstart publisher of “Zen — intergalactic Ninja” had never heard of Alan Watts — great promoter of Zen until I told him Alan Watts was a famous and popular theologian turned beatnik Philosopher & Author (one of many) responsible for introducing Eastern Religions to the spiritually starved West–often heard on KPFK radio. Alan Watts is possibly the foremost promoter of Zen. Watts’ book ” The Wisdom of Insecurity,” mentions, of all things, Comic Books. What are Chakras? The Tao means what? When kids grow up and learn about Meditation will they be tainted by our stupidity and greed?

Buzz words usually lower consciousness and cause confusion. Of course when I use to publish stuff as a youngster I made up names that sounded good but had little or no meaning such as: Beyond Infinity, Eon the Magazine of Graphic Illusions. I know less now than I did then. What is craft, art, Love, Truth?

I held several autograph parties with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I threw over 50 successful autograph parties with many wonderful comic book artists and writers. I’d host the event, provide refreshments, do all the advertising, graphic art, press releases, etc. It was an exhilarating experience. It was fun to interact with pros and fans. I gave away a lot of free promo stuff.

Ninth Nebula’s first autograph party was held with Stan Lee, publisher of Marvel Comics. For ten years my shop endured in North Hollywood, CA next door to the world’s oldest Science Fiction Club (a built in audience of friends and fans and computer fiends).

The Stan Lee event evoked long lines of Comic Book fans of all ages drooling for Stan’s signature on the splash page of their old and new comics. Nowadays professionals sign comics on the cover of their title en mass which I don’t approve of. (But who listens to me).

Comics forms are often abused by aspiring young publishers who use several unnecessary full page splashes when the effect could be achieved in a tiny panel — waste of money, ink and paper if you ask me. Unlike the good old days when Steve Ditko gave us our money’s worth in the form of about 6 panels per page — he in his way was like a Zen Master — the precision of his work rivaled the art of Chinese Calligraphy (see his unique style in old Atlas Comics from the 1950’s). Some of the recent experimentation’s by Frank Miller & other talents have all done exceptionally creative work too.

Stan Lee’s arrival in a Limosine exemplified the style and pizzazz in which he lived his life. He was the spokesperson, promoter and Publisher of Marvel Comics at the time.

Stan has more energy than many men half his age. Did you catch the Hitchcock-like cameo in the awesome recent excellent X-men film where he was a Hot Dog vendor (on the beach).

Ninth Nebula was a context for many things but few know it was my 2nd book shop. My first store was opened in 1978 in the Santa Monica area and was called Beyond Illusion: New Age Book and Comic Shop. But comic books paid the rent even back then.

From 1985 through most of 1986 I threw over 19 successful mini Comic book Conventions (the San Fernando Valley Comic Book Convention). This show allowed me to open Ninth Nebula–the Complete Comic Book Store. Small in size, yet packed with all the best stuff.

Jack Kirby appeared at one of my autograph events too. Kirby was Lee’s partner on all the important Marvel titles in the early 1960’s when they were formed such as Fantastic Four, (Strange Tales) Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hulk, X-men, Daredevil, Avengers, Journey Into Mystery) Thor, (Tales to Astonish) Ant-Man, (Tales of Suspense) Iron-man, Capt. America, etc.

Around 1961 Amazing Fantasy #15 was issued which is the first appearance of Amazing Spider-man and if in perfect shape could fetch $20,000 or more. Check your price guides.

Comics were serious business until the Death of Superman (and then it exploded further) which created new problems and opportunities as the comic industry began new birth pangs in 1993.

I gave 100% service & attention to all my customers at all times. I had to become innovative since often the store became overflowing and I could not mention all the new titles. I’d push a button on my tape recorder when people said “what is new.” Then the many fans and readers would get an audible list of every last detail of the new comics that had just come in. I was busy ringing sales with other customers so this made it possible for me to sell more comics. When shipments were bumped due to mail I’d say put my comics in some coffins — I need ’em now (Capital City never did). When I lived on the premises I had a buzzer so I was the first 24 hour comic store that I know of.

As a kid I’m proud to have collected and owned several complete mint sets of every Marvel Comic Book (1961 to present).

In fact I feel the Lee, the Ditko and the Kirby are three awards the Comic Industry should create (I said this loudly prior to 1984). Though as often as I try to turn him into one of his characters (such as Doctor Strange the occult master of mystic arts) Stan remains a human being — a man, down to Earth — courageous and kind. But I’m sure it was Stan’s business savvy that made and kept Marvel such a colossal success for many years.

Long may Vishnu (Hindu God of preservation) bless the best that the “Comics Industry” has brought forth in creative inspiration down through the decades.

With comics you get to read and enjoy them over and over again and someday they will be worth something. Sure the overproduced over hyped stuff may be valueless, but if you buy what you enjoy you can’t lose.

Comics have proven themselves over the last 60 years as a legitimate American art form. Comic Book audiences are growing faster than in any other hobby form including electronic games & virtual reality. It isn’t over yet. In fact, one could say we are at the beginning.

(“He who knows, knows, they who say they know, don’t.” –Lao Tsu). Like Meditation, you won’t know what it is unless you try it.

There are many Star Trek and Star Wars Comics from Marvel and D.C. that have been issued and I collected in the past all of which are very popular. These use to be issued by Gold Key in the 1960’s. Shatner co-created TEK comics. Spielberg and Lucas were influenced by the Comic Book genre. Roger Corman is cashing in with his Cosmic Comics. Even Leonard Nimoy has a successful Comic out. Other comics sport logos from deceased Isaac Asimov & Gene Roddenberry.

In the 1960’s, Underground Comix & Fanzines made the scene. One could say this was the beginning of the Independent line of comics. Vaughn Bode’ (Cheech Wizard) kids have emulated this sadistic character through their Graphitti on the walls of washes in the past for years) Rick Griffin, George Metzger are but a few of dozens of innovative Philosopher/Artists whose work not only represents the 1960’s but whose originality rivals the Will Eisner’s (The Spirit), Harvey Kurtzman’s (MAD ), Milton Canniff (Steve Canyon), AL Capp (Lil Abner) of their day. Though sex and drugs were the order of the day, during the 1960’s, Underground’s did not and do not represent mainstream comics–which are clean and not usually politically or spiritually sophisticated. Though political cartoonist Ron Cobb punched the unrightous right wing in their gut when necessary during the 1960’s.

If you know where to look one can find incredible literary treasures in this unique American art form–The Comic Book, now worldwide in acceptance, popular in every country (indeed, as a teaching tool one could learn other languages).

Fanzines and Underground’s contain some of the earliest and most bizarre art by today’s seriously great Comic Creators.

A successful new film has been released a few years ago about the life of Robert Crumb creator of Fritz the Cat. Robert Crumb also created Zap and Mr. Natural (I’ve seen original Mr. Natural artwork prominently displayed framed on my best friend’s Fathers’ wall. (A Psychiatrist by profession in the early 1970’s).

Gerber’s four volume Photo Journal Guide To Comics is a masterpiece chronicling comics history with full color photos of the covers of old back issue comics from the 1940’s–1970’s loved by many generations of people who wished their mother hadn’t thrown them away so they could retire in style today. I explain it is never too late to begin again as gems are published weekly and the selection is enormous.

Many Doctors, Lawyers, Film People, Teachers, Musicians, Computer Experts, Politicians, Artists & Authors people from all walks of life still all read comics & or collect them. I’ve sold comics to Clint Eastwood and his son. Robin Williams once roller skated into my first Comic Store in 1978 and bought Art Books & material related to the Comic Book genre. My friend reminds me that when I threw a mini comic con Leo DiCapprio worked for me briefly (I bought Underground comics from his Dad George).

Social Relevance

Comics indeed, teach art and story writing skills by their very nature. And are used by storyboard artists in making films, doing animation and more.

At my suggestion Marvel and D.C. issued Hunger Awareness comics in the late 1970’s with proceeds going to charity. Various talents offered their artistic skills as a donation. Marvel and D.C. have done other promotional activities for charities protecting wildlife, anti-drug campaigns etc.

Other social issues Marvel has utilized in their Comics: Scientist/Inventor Tony Stark wrestled with his own inner demons as an alcoholic with heart problems who is kept alive by his suit as Iron Man (see the new film coming up).

The blind Daredevil fought the (Kingpin) Mafia & Crime with his supersenses. Radioactivity and a spider created Spider-man.

A nuclear test created the Hulk.

As I read Dr. Strange (one witnesses a 30 year battle with Dr. Strange that sadly and finally ends as the villain Baron Mordo dies of Cancer–fully forgiven by Dr. Strange all the evil rendered unto him.

World War two vet Nick Fury (Secret Agent) dies just after his creator Jack Kirby passes away.

I discovered new worlds in micro dimensions and negative zones in the Fantastic Four (Human Torch lives) back in the early 1960’s.

Marvel Lee/Kirby even created the Black Panther at the same time as Black Panther’s were active in America–and this tie in with history and comics is not an unusual thing. This version of the Black Panther was a Chief from Africa with super powers of a sort.

In the 1980’s Aids Awareness comics were issued (Ninja high School). And a major character also died from Aids in Marvel’s (Canadian Mutants) Alpha Flight.

Some Comic Books teach Science or even other languages. Ms. Mystic by Neal Adams and Green Arrow by Mike Grell and Hawkmistress by yours truly (ask to see the script) often tackled environmental issues. Am I preaching to the converted.

Kids like to read & try their hand at creating comics. Classes (including Distance Learning internet classes on comics and other themes are available around the nation. In other words people can get credit and training without leaving their homes.

Comics are a safe addiction for the whole family.

Big Little Books (short thick early one page comics, every other page just text–hardbound, from the beginning of this century) are a form of early comic books.

Violence in any form is wrong (physical, emotional etc. or against Nature). Scape-goat-ism / facism of an economic, political, militaristic, religious, talk show, judicial, prison or from any source is wrong.

Other comics explored the murders of JFK, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Most comics are not humorous. And History can effortlessly be learned, through the enjoyment of comics.

Capt. America and the Human Torch fought Hitler & fascism in Captain America comics during the 1940’s, for example.

Comics can be better than film or TV when done right. Though few have translated to the screen all that well so far except for X-men and a sleeper called Unbreakable (as of June/July 2001 it’s extremely hot at the video stores). (A great film! But it seems the comic industry is attacking itself? with this sort of material.)

There are comic books as high in vibrational quality as classical music. E.C. comics Weird Fantasy, Incredible Science Fiction, Weird Science & Weird Science Fantasy & others from the 1950’s (regarding art and story) & certain comics from Marvel & D.C. and other companies may sometimes be likened unto the much higher vibration of John Lennon or Vivaldi (quality wise). (See Dreyfus in Mr. Holland’s Opus to understand what I am saying or even Finding Forester with Sean Connery). Because of the level of story and rendering of art back in the 1950’s when issued. These were projects of love and survival.

The new way to sell comics is Ebay, Amazon.Com and Yahoo auctions. Among others. eBay is the most successful so far.

Keeping track of your collection is a full time job. There is now inventory software for organizing Comic Collections.

I’ve enjoyed watching a few good “Electronic” or internet Comics at DC, stanlee.net and elsewhere. But animation is still better (as far as I am concerned). Beast Wars is a really well done 3-D cartoon originating from talents in Canada. Beast Wars is probably the best animation being produced these days.

Store owners didn’t mind the plethora of first issues until around 1996 when new people took over at Marvel and elsewhere. Comics are a viable art form no one should take advantage of. But retailers and fans feel they have been used. And we resent it.

One funny footnote, Frederick Wertham, the much hated Psychiatrist blamed for the demise of E.C. Comics and other companies during the 1950’s paranoid Senate subcommittee hearings where he testified against the “violence in Horror & Crime” Comics actually found something in Comics of value a little later in his life and began publishing Comic Book Fanzines. Yes Wertham got into Comics Fanzines and self publishing!: Wertham complemented Fanzines as a good that came out of Comics.

Fanzines are of many types from Science Fiction to Comic Book from art-zines to zines that specialize exclusively in one genre: Dr. Who, Star Trek, mainstream Science Fiction books etc. There are pro-zines (published by professionals in the comic industry) and zines that are “self published” by fans.

Censorship is wrong unless it is self imposed.

D.C.’s Elseworld’s stories are extremely creative and good and take comics to the next level. Putting Superman or Batman in a unique setting in time and space isn’t a new idea but the way DC executes these tales with details is usually innovative and exciting.

Where does one classify the classic Cerebus the Aardvark by Dave Sim, Reed Fleming Milkman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Hate Comics?

Classics Illustrated (classic literature illustrated) helped many people with time constraints pass a book report.

Black & white Warren Magazines (Vampirella, Creepy, Eerie) from the 1960’s often contained some of the best art & story for any time. Some fans are reeling still from the talent of Richard Corben (Den, Nevermore), Mike Ploog (Frankenstein), Jim Starlin (Warlock, Dreadstar), P. Craig Russell (Night Music, Elric.) Great work hidden in Tower Comics (Wally Wood) and Charleton Comics (Ditko) too.

The unacknowledged older audience pray that Marvel and D.C. maintain as high a standard of quality as possible.

New talent should not copy from other people’s work. Draw from life and photos. Regardless of what misinformation you may get.

Stan and Marvel literally saved the Comic Industry from extinction during the last 35 years I feel.

Eventually fans may focus on Silver Age and Golden Age comics from the 1940’s–1960’s. Or the E.C.’s from the 1950’s as I did at age 15 after acquiring every Marvel and D.C. issued during the 1960’s. But one really can’t outgrow comics. Once it is in your blood it will always be in your blood. New or now-agers would say I’m “too attached” to my possessions (comics). Possibly so. But a really well written nicely illustrated comic is better than watching Disney’s Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 in an Isolation float tank isn’t it.

Remember when I said one felt part of something with Marvel in the early days — “The Merry Marvel marching Society” etc. This is very true. People want to participate in an active way in their lives. This is one reason costuming is so successful at Comic and Science Fiction conventions. And one reason why Toys and Magic the Gathering and the internet comics, where you get to direct the outcome of the adventure, are so viable as hobbies. Because instead of watching TV one gets to enter in and play to be active and to participate.

Good art and stories are essential. Stan use to say “put it out there and see if someone salutes.”

When we were kids, of course, comics cost just.10 cents to.12 cents each. The first.02 cent raise meant we had to cut back a certain number of comics. Today Action Comics #1 (where Superman first appeared in 1938) goes for $175,000 in near mint in auctions but was onJy $400.00 when I was a 15 years old kid.

I was selling Joe Kubert original Hawkman art to people on Military bases back then and then buying more comics with the profits. (See how Comics taught business, indirectly).

When comics were released I was the kid waiting to cut the plastic strip off the piles of new D.C. and Marvel comics before the manager got around to it back in 1961 at Thrifties so I could get the newest releases before anyone & pull out the most pristine “mint” issue each and every Tues. and Thurs. year after year.

Actually I was just trying to get the next issue to read and collect as soon as it was issued. Then in 1986 when I started Ninth Nebula I started air freighting the new comics to my shop and had 500 regular weekly customers. I also gave generous discounts.

We grew up, married, had kids, started our own comic stores.

More & more “readers and collectors” abhor this wanton greed and unfairness in the comic book marketplace to their pocketbooks and sense of right. They want quality not just quantity.

In a way this is where OLD Marvel really succeeded. Marvel taught its readers to think for themselves.

Most real long term retailers find nothing wrong with investors investing in Comics or Marvel Stock, and everyone made short term money with D.C.’s two first editions of the Death of Superman. Retailers made out quite well on Superman’s Death–especially the Black Bagged version. As did Newsstands who bought them from retailers and resold them at higher amounts. Copies sell at around $25.00 now for the “black bagged edition.” The day this issue was released copies sold from $5.00– $50.00 each. Reports went as high as $250.00 for a single issue. But there are so many titles produced that since comics are not returnable to the distributor the amount of left over inventory with any “real store” will be immense and costly. Profits for shops are not as high as you may think.

Another super successful comic, Astro City by the author of Death of Superman and the Painted Marvel’s, Kurt Busiek, was published by Image Comics. Demand rivals that of the D.C.’s acclaimed winner The Watchmen (a story of some out of shape Super Heroes who try to prevent New York and the world from getting blown up, written by English Author Alan Moore). My favorite comic lately is the Spectre which began in the 1940’s. I also love various issues of Hellblazer and Swamp Thing. Tastes vary and so do types of comics. When one says Archie or Casper or Disney or Richie Rich that might be the only frame of reference a novice has about what is available. Great or unique art draws me into reading the comic. Quality matters.

At Ninth Nebula our customers were 30-50 years old and spent $30.00 or more each week all year long. They’d get 30 comics all totally different from all publishers. Most customers still focus on Marvel and D.C. but Independent publishers are here to stay.

Mad Magazine was originally a smaller size E.C. Comic. At issue #24 Mad became an entirely black and white magazine in a larger format. The ever popular talented humorous generous Sergio Aragones has been on TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes and other shows and is co-creator of Groo the Wanderer (with writer Mark Evanier) started with Mad many years ago. Their Groo the Wanderer at Marvel literally had me laughing hysterically on the floor after I fell off my chair.

If you are just exploring comics for the first time be sure to check out stores that carry old and new issues.

Direct Market is strange now because there is only one real main stream distributor of comics today. Diamond. If you want to start a shop don’t order randomly–find out what your customers will buy. Use their order form. There are small publishers too from whom you might be able to order directly and internet subscription services.

Other material to check out when you get into Comics reading and collecting: Comics Values Monthly (think it still exists in some form), Wizard, The Comics Buyer’s Guide and The Comics Journal (Published by Fantagraphics. Opinionated Gary Groth is the editor). And of course the price guide Overstreet. Which should be used as a guide but not as the bible. My famous saying remains: “Buy what you enjoy–if it goes up that is an added bonus.”

This “industry” will endure for all those with faith who work hard and make wise choices in ordering: Marvels, D.C.’s and Independents.

New is no longer so sacred a word. But together we can make it so when it again deserves it. We are moving in the correct direction. Thanks Stan, you helped give the “Comic Book Generation” the ability to think, better than schools ever could. And the desire to keep on learning.

Remember we’ve moved from a you or me world to a you and me world. These aren’t just words but lifestyles millions of people adhere to now. And we are not the “fringe.”

I share this Truth as a service to the Comics Industry: “Wider is not better.” (Except for the car & luxury industry). Give us quality and we will give you our money, time and attention.

As King Arthur and Stan Lee might say: “Excelsior! ” Or as I might say: “Where’s my Digel.”

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Franchising; Legal Rights and Duties of Parties Upon Expiration or Termination

In the World of franchising every thing starts out like a dream, just like in interpersonal relationships, however as things go on the only constant of change often shows us it takes a lot of work to keep the spark going. When the potential eventuality occurs when a non-performing franchisee fails to comply with the franchise agreement they often will be put into default by the franchisor.

Often and in some states they have a chance to cure default, but if they do not the franchisor has to determine if such a violation is a call for termination. If so, often no one wins and it creates a lot of work for both in the relationship as they sever ties. It therefore makes sense to outline the duties required prior to such an event. In my franchise company I included this clause to help ease the process in such a case, as it is an emotional issue and it is extremely stressful for both franchisor and franchisee;

6.2 Rights and Duties of Parties Upon Expiration or Termination

Upon termination or expiration of this Agreement for any reason, all rights of the Franchisee under this Agreement will immediately terminate, but Franchisee will have the following duties, which will survive termination or expiration of this Agreement:

(a) Franchisee must promptly pay Franchisor all sums owing under the terms of this Agreement, including all damages, costs and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) incurred by Franchisor by reason of default on the part of Franchisee, whether or not the expenses occur before or after the termination or expiration of this Agreement.

(b) Franchisee must immediately cease to operate their Franchised Business and must not

thereafter represent to the public, advertise or hold themselves as a Franchisee or former

Franchisee of The Car Wash Guys or of the Franchisor.

(c) Franchisee must immediately and permanently cease to use, in any manner whatsoever, any confidential methods, procedures and techniques associated with the System; the proprietary mark THE CAR WASH GUYS and all other proprietary marks and distinctive forms, slogans, signs, promotional material, symbols and devices associated with the System.

(d) Franchisee must take action to cancel any assumed name or equivalent registration, which contains any of the Marks and will furnish Franchisor with satisfactory evidence of cancellation,

(e) Franchisee must ensure at its own expense that all mention of the Marks in connection with Franchisee is removed at the earliest possible time from all telephone and other directories, directory assistance records, building directories, signboards, internet sites, membership rosters and every other place and publication.

(f) Franchisee will cease and desist from all use of the Marks and must deliver to Franchisor, or its duly authorized representative, all materials and papers upon which the Marks appear. Franchisee will not, at any time, adopt or use any word or mark which is similar to or confusing with the Marks.

(g) Franchisee must immediately deliver to Franchisor all manuals, including, but not limited to, our Confidential Operations Manual. Franchisee must also deliver to Franchisor all documents and records that are reasonably necessary or important to the continuation of the Franchised Business including corporate newsletters and information packets and proprietary computer software and programs containing customer, industry and other data bases, lists, fax, sales, advertising and marketing material. Franchisee must also deliver any proprietary copyrighted customized accounting or other software which may or may not have been loaned to Franchisee. All fax, sales, advertising and marketing materials including data bases, artwork, sales letters, lists, etc. loaded on these programs or loaded on another computer program or in printed form are also owned by Franchisor and must be returned to Franchisor. This includes documents, records, files, instructions, correspondence, all materials related to operating your franchised business, including agreements, disclosure statements, and any and all other materials relating to the operation of your franchised business in your possession, and all copies thereof (all of which Franchisee acknowledge as our property and Franchisee must return to Franchisor). Franchisee will retain no copy or record of the foregoing, except your copy of the Franchise

Offering Circular, Franchise Agreement, related agreements and of any correspondence between the parties and any other documents which Franchisee need for compliance with any provision of law or arbitration proceedings or for your tax records.

(h) If Franchisee continues to operate or subsequently begin to operate any other business, Franchisee agrees not to use any reproduction, counterfeit, copy or colorable imitation of the Marks, either in connection with that other business or the promotion of it, which is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception, or which is likely to dilute our rights in and to the Marks. If Franchisee does use the Marks wrongfully, Franchisee will pay Franchisor a minimum of $20.00 per day and together with all related damages and accept a cease and desist order. Further, Franchisee agrees not to use any designation of origin or description or representation, which falsely suggests or represents an association or connection with Franchisor.

(i) If Franchisor so elects, Franchisee must sell to Franchisor, at Franchisor’s cost, all products, supplies and equipment which bear the Marks.

(j) If Franchisee is terminated without transfer, Franchisee will deliver their trucks, trailers or other units to Franchisor’s designated equipment development and installation site for retrofitting, repair (engine work, body work, paint, logos) and upgrading to current specifications in preparation for sale to a new or existing Franchisee if the vehicles with gasoline engines have under 50,000 miles or the vehicles with diesel engines have under 80,000 miles or for sale only to an existing Franchisee if the vehicles have over these mileage limits. The costs to retrofit, repair and upgrade will be due and payable by Franchisee. The participating vendor team partner will receive a five percent (5%) commission based upon the sales price of each truck/unit due and payable upon the sale of the unit(s) to cover their expenses for their time, telephone calls, credit application inquiries and processing the sale. If Franchisee fail to deliver the truck/unit(s) to the installation site within fifteen (15) days after your termination, Franchisee agree to pay the towing, transport, driver delivery time and other expenses incurred when another party delivers the truck/unit(s) to the installation site. Franchisee further agree to assume full liability for the units until sold. Franchisee can determine the asking and final selling price for each of their truck/unit(s).

(k) Franchisee must comply with the provisions of this Franchise Agreement described under the heading “Covenants Not to Compete”. See Section 3.20 of this Franchise Agreement.

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When franchise outlets, franchisees or team member relationships do not work out, it is important to cut ties correctly and insure that the there is not unnecessary litigation or any question as to what must take place; therefore it must be clearly defined in the franchise agreement. As a franchisor I learned this the hard way a few times and thus you too need to be cognizant of these issues. You would be advised to contact a franchise attorney and pay special attention to these issues.

In modern day franchising especially with low-cost, easy-in franchise business models we see a trend of people buying into a franchise and then deciding to do something else. We see this in regular corporate employment too as the average employee changes jobs every 3.2 years. So, I hope you will consider this in 2006.

The Importance of Learning About Shapes For Preschoolers

Even babies can recognize the difference between a circle and square, using their sight and sense of touch to distinguish between them. However, learning the names of the different shapes is not an inborn ability, but it is a necessary step in your preschooler’s education. Children need to learn the names of shapes so that they can identify them verbally and in writing and compare the various shapes and how they are used. These are basic skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.

Learning shapes helps your child identify objects as well as letters. Letters are made up of circles, triangles and lines – think of the circles in b, d, g, p, q, or the parts of a triangle found in k, v and w. Drawing the curved lines of a circle or oval shape helps your child to write letters such as f, u, m, n, j, and the lines in squares helps your child to write i, l, k, p, q and so on. Often, recognizing the shapes in the letters helps a child to recognize the letter too, important for developing reading skills.

Drawing shapes is also the first step in learning how to draw. Almost anything can be broken down into shapes, such as a house, a cat, a book, a ball – they can all be drawn with simple shapes. This makes it easier for your child to progress from stick drawings to more detailed artworks – and if they have talent, they will use shapes to draw and paint in the future as well.

Shapes are extremely important in basic and more advanced math. Most adults will immediately think of geometry, but shape patterns and spatial perception help your child to develop sequencing and logic skills that they will use later in their school career in subjects like calculus.

We use shapes every day as adults, although we may not realize it. Think about rearranging the lounge furniture, cleaning out the kitchen cupboards or the refrigerator – all done according to the shape of the items in them, and how they will relate to each other. Road signs and markings make extensive use of different shapes, helping us to recognize them before we can actually read them.

Learning about shapes includes learning about 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional shapes. A sphere, or ball, is a 3D circle, and has specific properties, such as the ability to roll, that some other shapes do not have. This is true of all shapes, and your child will be able to make this progression if his or her basic grounding is good.

For kindergarten, children are expected to know the basic shapes, recognize them and identify how they form part of other items. They may also be expected to be able to draw the shapes – not perfectly, but certainly recognizably. There are many ways to encourage and help your child to learn about shapes.

Because shapes are all around us, it is easy to play ‘Find the Shape’ at home, in the car, in the store and elsewhere. Select one shape at a time to concentrate on, rather than trying to find all the different shapes.

A good set of worksheets for preschool will help your child recognize different shapes, see how they form part of other objects, and help them learn how to draw them. Drawing shapes is the precursor to learning how to write, and a good set of worksheets should take you step-by-step through this process until your child is drawing shapes on their own, free hand. Look out for worksheets that combine learning shapes with the use of different colors, as this is particularly effective in reinforcing the shape names.

Christmas Gift Ideas – Ten Cheap But Impressive Christmas Gifts

If you are reading this article, I can perceive your psyche. You are looking for cheap but impressive Christmas gifts. It is said ‘you get what you pay for’. But this does not hold true for gifts. Price alone does not justify its value. A gift conveying personal concern for the recipients can really win their hearts despite being cheap. So, here go my ideas.

1. Christmas gift basket – Your gift basket can include gourmet foods, fruitcake, chocolates and spa gifts. You can also make your own goodies and cookies, put them in a basket, use ribbon and wrapping paper to cover the basket attractively.

2. Christmas music CD’s – No Christmas party is complete without music. Songs are an essential part of this celebration. Consider popular audio tracks, instrumental CDs, children’s Christmas CD or Christmas classics.

3. Christmas DVD – A DVD selected with diligence is a wonderful gift for family. All of the family members will sit together to watch the movie and thank you many times for creating this priceless moment for them.

4. Christmas movie tickets – Consider movie tickets for the entire family as a surprise gift. Put the tickets, a greeting card and your intimate message for each of the family members written on a Christmas writing paper inside an envelope. Wrap a colorful ribbon around it. Ship it early to avoid any postal delay. In this case, please make it sure that the recipients do not have any holiday travel plan.

5. Christmas makeup tote – Consider chic make up tote bag, coin purse, or, cosmetic leisure bag. Priced under $10, these bags constitute great Christmas gifts.

6. Costume jewelry gift for Christmas – This idea works great for friends and colleagues. Besides, teachers can also consider this idea for the students. Costume jewelries have near identical look and finish when compared to their original counterparts but these are available at throwaway prices. You can also consider Christmas ornaments as gifts as a remembrance to this very special occasion.

7. Christmas puzzles – An innovative idea for family with kids. Keep them engaged in solving the puzzles while they wait for Santa to arrive.

8. Photo album – Help the recipients make their exclusive moments memorable with photo album. Do not forget to write your personal note. And if possible, decorate it with your own artwork.

9. Christmas candles – Despite arrival of new gift items, traditional gift like Christmas candle is still very popular idea. Consider different varieties like scented, floating, jar, or taper candles.

10. Gift certificates – You set the budget. Let them choose the gifts of their own.

How to save money on Christmas gifts

As the big day approaches closer, prices are likely to increase. So, the best suggestion is to start shopping early. Besides, always search for a coupon before making any purchase.