Entering Low Content Mode.

§ February 24th, 2017 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, low content mode § No Comments

Sorry, pals, but due to equipment failure at the old homestead, I have no internet service there and service technicians won’t be out to take a look at it (much less fix it) until the following week. Thus, Progressive Ruin Industries will be entering a brief hiatus until at least March 6th, when, with any luck, I’ll return with the latest installment of the End of Civilization. Between then and now, I’ll try to put up the occasional something, if I can prepare it at home and bring it on a flash drive to post with the work computer, but we’ll see. In the meantime, please enjoy the website’s 13+ years’ worth of archives, at least some of which have working links and unbroken images, and you can always see what I’m up to on the Twitters.

Thank you for your patience, and I should be up and running again as normal (or “normal”) soon.

I’ll just apologize for the last gag right here.

§ February 22nd, 2017 § Filed under this week's comics § 3 Comments

So the previous issue of Scooby-Doo! Team-up (featuring Frankenstein Jr.) was a little disappointing, in that there were little-to-no backgrounds in any of the panels. The figure drawing was fine, the writing was at its usual witty standard…but without the backgrounds, they might has well have all been floating in space, rather than in the concert hall the story was supposedly set in. This new issue is a vast improvement in that regard, with the Scooby gang running into Quick Draw McGraw in a dusty western town, with plenty of mountains and deserts caves and streets an’ all. A little scenery goes a long way to establishing some kind of time and place for the goings-on, and the Frankenstein Jr. story suffered without it. …Another aspect of this series I wanted to mention is how they could have very easily had the Scooby-Doo crew team up with a different DC superhero every issue in attempt to grab those direct market sales, but I’m glad they’re balancing issues with Harley Quinn with issues co-starring…well, Quick Draw McGraw, for example. Now, if only we can get Swamp Thing into this comic…
 
 

The current Hellboy storylines seem to be at an end, for now, and I’ve no idea if there’s going to be any forward motion in the Mignolaverse anytime in the near future. There is, however, no end of comics filling in the backstory and the missing years of Hellboy ‘n’ company, and the latest is The Visitor How & Why He Stayed, following up on the aliens that briefly appeared at the very beginnings of Hellboy’s funnybook adventures. I remember during a reread of the Hellboy comics thinking “what was up with the aliens?” and just figured that was an abandoned plot point which no longer fit into Mignola’s evolving storytelling for this series. Thus, this book comes as bit of a surprise, but a welcome one, and certainly a different take on the franchise’s past outside the “here’s another early adventure with Hellboy and the BPRD,” Not that those aren’t fine and great, of course, but The Visitor feels new, like a stretching of the premise. We may not be moving ahead in the Mignolaverse’s timeline just yet, but at least we’re pulling that previously-existing timeline into some different directions. …By the way, if you like the Adventures of Kid Hellboy, this will be a good comic for you to pick up.
 
 

Okay, we still don’t have any definitive answers as to who this Other Clark Kent is, but at this point my initial fear that this story would resolve as part of the larger Watchmen-in-the-DC-Universe metastory has lessened a bit. This appears to be a more conventional “someone we know in disguise as Clark” story (wouldn’t be something if it was Matrix, who somehow survived along with the pre-Flashpoint Clark ‘n’ Lois into the New 52 universe?), but we’ll see what happens. I do still think that the Superman books, as interesting as they are right now, are due for some event crossover rejiggering, with Dr. Manhattan merging timelines together so that the New 52 Superman never existed, the current Superman has always been Superman, the same Lois has always been around, etc. That leaves the fate of Jon, Clark and Lois’s son, with an indeterminate future, but that all depends on how the Super-Sons title fares, I guess. Or maybe that book can just start teaming up with kids of other superheroes. …Can’t think of a whole bunch of them right now, but I definitely pictured Damian Wayne teaming up with the Ghost of Aquababy. …Hey, look, if Richie Rich can team up with Casper….

Also, giving yourself a nickname is never a good look, says the guy calling himself “Mikester” online for, like, decades now.

§ February 20th, 2017 § Filed under archie § 4 Comments

So Archie, the fella who usually has two or more pretty young gals pursuing him at any given time, gets some unsolicited advice on how to handle women from a guy who clearly knows what he’s talking about:


Archie being Archie, he of course takes this advice, laying his cool new ‘tude and his new hairstyle on Veronica:


Surprisingly, it doesn’t work like it does for the Fo–excuse me, for “Funzee,” so the Arch moves on to his next supposed conquest, Betty:


…whose father has the appropriate reaction:


Archie isn’t a complete dummy, however, and abandons his attempt at TV star coolness, just in time for his ironic comeuppance:


Aw, poor guy. Don’t worry, Arch, your time will come soon enough:


 
 

images from Archie Giant Series #461 (September 1977) – also reprinted in the Archie Americana Best of the Seventies trade paperback

In the much-closer-than-I-was-expecting future.

§ February 17th, 2017 § Filed under atlas, publishing § 10 Comments

So twenty or so years ago, when Mystery Science Theater 3000 was still on the air, and a feature film was in the offing, there was a not-insignificant amount of MST3K merchandise floating about. There were the t-shirts, of course, and a promo set of nine trading cards for the film (one of which is pictured to the right, there), and a Dynamic Forces lithograph, and all the stuff from the official fan club…and there was a planned comic book. Acclaim Comics was going to release a Mystery Science Theater 3000 comic book which, if my aged brain recalls correctly, was going to feature Mike and the ‘bots riffing over old Gold Key comics, presumably with their silhouettes superimposed at the bottom of the panels, or something similar.

The comic never did get come out, perhaps due to the MST3K feature film effectively being killed by its very limited release, or perhaps due to comics publishing/marketplace issues…whatever the reason, we didn’t get the funnybook that I, and probably many other MST fans, were hoping for.

Now, in 2017, with a new Mystery Science Theater 3000 TV series in production, and with years’ worth of DVD releases keeping the flame alive, and with the various similar spin-off projects finding new fans (most famously Rifftrax), now apparently is the time to try the comic thing again. Thanks to Johanna for pointing this out, as I somehow missed the announcement, but Dark Horse Comics has entered into a merchandising partnership with MST3K, explicitly mentioning a comic book series as part of the deal. Now, Johanna hopes it’s not just the adventures of the MST crew, and it probably won’t be. I’m sure it’ll be riffing old comics, like the Acclaim series was likely to be…though to be honest, I wouldn’t mind an “Adventures of New Host Jonah and the ‘Bots” series. But man, what I wouldn’t give for some kind of Avengers Forever/Watchmen/Crisis on Infinite Earths/Earth X/Kingdom Come type series tying together all the different iterations of MST3K into one cohesive continuity. Fully painted by Alex Ross, of course. …C’mon, you know that’d be great.

• • •

In response to Turan’s comment regarding what kicked off my Atlas/Seaboard collection, asking if it was the Bog-Beast what did the deed. The answer is no, believe it or not…when I was but a young Mikester, I was given a bag of old (well, perhaps not so old, then) comic books that were purchased at a thrift store. As I wasn’t yet the wizened old comics coot I am today, most of these comics were new to me…including the first issue of Grim Ghost. I thought that comic was pretty great, and when the opportunity arose, I picked up another issue of that series…and eventually, I started picking up others from the publisher, just because they were so like typical ’70s Marvel and DCs, but just different enough to feel sort of weird and mysterious and compelling. I don’t think I decided I was going to try for them all until after I was actually working in comics retail, but I think I figured there were few enough of them that it was worth a try. ‘Course, nearly three decades later I’m still trying to track some down, but that’s okay. All part of the fun of comic collecting!

By the way, I only remember a couple of other comics from that thrift store bag…one was this issue of Shazam! and the other was the Classics Illustrated version of Frankenstein. Man, thank goodness I didn’t get bit by the Classics collecting bug. “Finally collected all the first printings of the series…now to start on the second printings!” said 88-year-old Mike.

Let me tell you a story about Willie.

§ February 16th, 2017 § Filed under jack kirby, retailing § 7 Comments

So this is going back well over a quarter of a century, pretty near 30 years now, when your pal Mike was still but a comics retail neophyte, learning the ropes about slingin’ the funnybooks. We had a customer, Willie, who would come in his old van to the shop once or twice a month, popping in to ask if the latest issue of “the Rabbit” (AKA Usagi Yojimbo) had come in.

Another thing he would ask about is if we had any back issues of The Bug in stock.

Took us a bit to figure out who and what he was talking about. Turns out he was thinking of the character Forager, alternatively known as the Bug, who was a supporting character in Jack Kirby’s New Gods. “Willie,” we would say to him, “do you mean issues of New Gods in which the Bug appeared? Is that what you mean?” And Willie would reply, nope, while that was the character he was definitely thinking of, he specifically remembered the Bug starring in his own solo comic book series, separate from New Gods.

Now, we eventually convinced Willie that he was almost certainly misremembering the comic (in fact, I’d bet money he was thinking of this issue), but he would still bring it up once in a while, as a running joke. My then-coworker Rob and I even toyed with the idea of writing and drawing a short Bug comic to give to him as a gag, but alas, we never did do that.

I haven’t seen Willie in a very long time. I think I last saw him sometime in the early ’90s, and I have only the vaguest memory that he had either moved out of the area or he no longer had the disposable income for even his limited comic book habit…or perhaps both. Whatever the reason, Willie and his van became a nearly forgotten memory of my early comics retailing days.

Nearly forgotten, because just the other day this happened:


…and that memory of Willie and his insistence that a Bug solo comic existed all came back to me. And let me tell you, I had the weirdest combination of bemusement and frustration come over me when I heard about this. I’d actually missed the announcement of this comic, but my longtime customer Brook told me about it and my immediate reaction was an outraged “WHAT!?” Not outraged at the comic itself, mind you, but outrage at my inability to inform Willie that he would finally be getting what he wanted all those years ago.

All I wanted to do was send a message back in time to Willie, telling him to eat right, exercise, cut the cigarettes, and just hang in there ’til 2017 because HERE IT COMES:


Ah, Willie. I hope you’re still out there, and somehow, someway, you know this is happening.

At the very least, I’d like to see an animated version of House of Secrets #92.

§ February 14th, 2017 § Filed under cartoons, movie reviews, swamp thing § 4 Comments


So pretty much in every media adaptation of Swamp Thing, be it cartoon or live action TV show or two fantastic movies or video game, hearing him refer to himself out loud as “Swamp Thing” always sounds just a little goofy. Some kind of weird combination of self-importance and “…seriously, that’s the name you’re going by?” And look, I’m saying this as the guy that, some of you may know, kinda likes this Swamp Thing character. But sometimes, something that reads okay on paper just doesn’t seem to translate to actual spoken out-loud dialogue, and, well, what can you do. And maybe they hit the “I AM THE PROTECTOR OF THE GREEN” thing a little too hard. Still, though, it was nice to see an animated Swamp Thing that had purpose beyond selling toys. Would love to see a standalone Swamp Thing animated movie at some point, but it would have to probably have to shoehorn Batman or Superman into it like they do with pretty much all the direct-to-home-video DC cartoons, like they did with this one, so I’m not holding my breath.

Oh, and by the way, “this one” is Justice League Dark, as some of you probably surmised, teaming up DC’s spooky characters, like Deadman, the Demon, Zatanna, and John Constantine, mispronouncing his name as they have in, I think, every TV and movie version of him:


…but What Can You Do? Despite that particular issue only I care about, I enjoyed the film well enough. It’s still weird seeing Constantine just straight-up casting magical spells like Dr. Fate in an overcoat, which is not something you saw him really do too much in the early comics but is perhaps a bit more frequent in modern funnybooks. But beyond that, it was a good showcase for all the characters, all of whom got something to do, with a variety of action sequences and creepy locations, but that one scene with the cast being chased by a hurricane with a face felt more like something out of Scooby-Doo There was just enough left unexplained in characters’ backgrounds to maybe urge the more inquisitive viewers to Read More About It. Hopefully in the comics, that is, and not just on Wikipedia.

As mentioned above, Batman does appear in the film to help sell it to people for whom the “Justice League” in the title isn’t enough to entice them, but other JLA members appear as well. Alas, though we’ve all moved on to the “Rebirth” era in the comics, the movies are still in their “New 52” phase, so that’s the Superman we get, whose New 52 costume is somehow even worse in animation than it is on the page. Fortunately he’s not in there that much, since that costume more than anything dates the film (to, like, the early ’90s, frankly). Wonder Woman’s New 52-era costume makes an appearance, too, though that’s slightly more tolerable.

I haven’t really gone through the extra features (available on the Blu-ray version) just yet, beyond the “Story of Swamp Thing” short, in which Len Wein and Kelley Jones discuss the character’s origins and history. There are other short pieces titled “Did You Know? CONSTANTINE ORIGIN” and “Casting Deadman” and the like, plus a preview of the New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract cartoon, originally announced years ago, which is finally coming out. (Not that it was made years ago and has been sitting on a shelf, but…well, you know what I mean.) There are also the usual “From the DC Vault” cartoons, this time a couple of episodes of The Brave and the Bold featuring the Demon.

…And speaking of Deadman, Nick Turturro does the perfect voice for him. I don’t know that I ever imagined what Deadman would sound like as I was reading the comics, but now this is the voice. So great.

Overall, an enjoyable film, I thought. Not really expecting a sequel, despite the fact it would be nice to see some…resolution to the seemingly final fates for some of the characters. But, despite what I said above about the possibility, I’m still holding on to that faint hope that maybe, just maybe, now that we’ve cracked the seal, we might see some kind of solo Swamp Thing animated effort. Well, even if it does have to guest-star Batman…whatever it takes, I guess.

Wasn’t going to update today, but vitally important information has come to light.

§ February 13th, 2017 § Filed under swamp thing § 4 Comments

Here is Swamp Thing, as he appears in the video game Injustice 2:

Will be starting my “Buy Mike a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One” GoFundMe campaign shortly.

In which I turn a plug for Andrew into a plug for me.

§ February 10th, 2017 § Filed under atlas, collecting, pal plugging § 4 Comments

So I had a question or two in response to that long-ago post about the Flaming Carrot Comics magazine that I finally acquired. JRC and BobH asked about Flaming Carrot’s appearances in the Visions ‘zine/con program from about the same time period. This was an annual publication produced for the Atlanta Fantasy Fair, and the Carrot appeared in the first issue in 1979, and reappeared in the following issues up through 1987 (according to the Wikipedia article). This means at least a couple of FC’s appearances in Visions did predate the release of the magazine. Well, three, to be exact, since there’s an ad in the back of the mag for Visions #1-#3.

BobH specifically asks if the Visions material (and the 1981 mag) had ever been reprinted, or at least repurposed/retold, and to the best of my knowledge, they haven’t. The only reprintings I know of have been the Dark Horse collections (later partially reissued via a Kickstarter campaign, it appears) but those were just of the Aardvark-Vanaheim/Renegade Press era comics. One of the Visions issues listed in the back of the FC mag notes a story with the Artless Dodger, who appears later in the regular series, though I suspect the latter is a brand new story rather than a reworking of the original. I would love to see these comics from Visions collected someday, but frankly, if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s not going to, barring some unforeseen, but quite welcomed, Flaming Carrot renaissance. Or if someone just walks into my shop with them someday to sell to me. I’d gladly pay upwards of a dollar each for them.

• • •

Also from that same post, Chris G. asks how far along I am in my Atlas/Seaboard collecting. As you may recall, Atlas/Seaboard launched in the mid-1970s several color comics (and some black & white mags) by lots of top talent, with the intention of competing with Marvel and DC, and, for various reasons, all those titles went under just a few months later. It’s…interesting, if not always necessarily good stuff, and I decided a long time ago I was going to put together a full set of these. I sort of let it go for a while, but then I started getting large numbers of them in collections brought to my shop, and that restarted the ol’ collecting bug again.

Some of my most recent acquisitions were the first couple issues of the Archie Comics-a-like Vicki, which are among the harder-to-find comics from the Altas/Seaboard line. However, my old boss Ralph is currently holding for me two of the Atlas magazines (a Thrilling Adventure Stories #1 and a Weird Tales of the Macabre #1) so I’ll be a couple of comics closer to finishing the collection. I think I only have about a dozen or so to go. I suppose I could just hunt them down on the eBays, but the fella I bought a bunch from at the shop still has several more boxes to bring in to me, so we’ll see what happens there.

• • •

Hey, lemme thrown in a couple plugs for pals here:

Tegan has just added exclusive content for Patreon supporters that you can read about here.

Joe Hunter has a Patreon going for his cartooning, with exclusive content for contributors. He’s a swell and talented guy, so please check him out.

Andrew is doing Black Orchid Month, because why the heck not, you know? Black Orchid, As Seen on TV if You Watched the Recent Justice League Dark Animated Movie There, which I did just the other day, so I’ll probably have some thoughts on that posted here soon.

Hard-hitting social commentary from Wendy the Good Little Witch.

§ February 8th, 2017 § Filed under harvey § 3 Comments



 
 

from Casper TV Showtime #5 (October 1980)

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ February 6th, 2017 § Filed under End of Civilization § 10 Comments

Punxsutawney Phil has poked his nose into the newest Diamond Previews, and has determined that the End of Civilization is fully on its way! Poke your own nose into the pages of the February 2017 edition of that very mag, and follow along:

p. 49 – The Art of Splatoon HC:


Oh, sure, this gets published, but a collection of my life’s work, my extensive photograph collection “The Art of Spittoons,” is called “too appalling for publication.” I see how it is.
 
 
p. 57 – The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century [Second Edition] TP:


Now repackaged with the blurb “Enjoy the bright, optimistic alternate history of the 21st century!”
 
 
p. 82 – Batman #21:


Okay, you’re just going to have to deal with the fact that Watchmen was never going to reach its full potential until Batman got involved somehow. That’s just truth, friend, and you’re going to have to live with it.
 
 
p. 91 – Aquaman #20:


Eventually they’re going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel for nautically-inspired villain names: “Aquaman in his final yawn-inducing battle with the Doldrums!”
 
 
p. 139 – Batman Zero Hour TP:


At last, all the stories you need under one cover, finally setting straight once and for all the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, pre-Flashpoint, pre-Infinite Crisis, pre-New 52, post-Legends, pre-Rebirth continuity of Batman!
 
 
p. 158 – Star Trek New Visions The Traveler:

Looking at the silhouette on the cover, maybe it’s a prequel featuring this guy before the male pattern space-baldness settled in?


 
 
p. 283 – Vader Raiders T-Shirt:


“So we can do a shirt for the ‘Charlotte Green Hornets.'”

“Um….”

“‘The Tennessee Teen Titans!'”

“Yeah, uh….”

“‘The Toronto Blue Jedis!'”

“I don’t….”

“‘The Pittsburgh Pirates of the Caribbean!'”

“Is there no one else in the office you can talk to?”
 
 
p. 416 – Doctor Who Ghost Stories #1:


No offense to the actual creative team, but if anyone was going to do a tie-in specifically to the 2016 Christmas Special, surely it should have been John Byrne.
 
 
p. 428 – Alien The Coloring Book:


“So what color is ichor, anyway?”

“Use your ‘vomitous viridescence’ crayon.”

“I already used that one up in my Lovecraft coloring book.”
 
 
p. 429 – The Art and Making of Alien Covenant:


Just page after page of storyboards of people sticking their faces stupidly close to obviously dangerous creatures.
 
 
p. 471 – Official DC Super Hero Joke Book: Why Did Batman Cross the Road? SC:


“Um…’for justice?'”

“No.”

“‘To catch the Joker?'”

“No. I mean, that’s not even really funny.”

“‘Because his parents are dead?'”

“Look, that’s just mean.”
 
 
p. 473 – The Neil Gaiman Coloring Book SC:


Carton upon carton of black and grey crayons not included.
 
 
p. 474 – Harry Potter Talking Sorting Hat and Sticker Book:


“Hmmm, let me see here…yes, yes, it’s Barbie’s Dream House for you!”

Barbie: “YAAAAY I knew it!”
 
 
p. 475 – The Wild Adventures of King Kong Vs. Tarzan SC:


Tarzan: “This vine seems awfully…girthy.”

Jane: “THAT’S NOT A VINE”
 
 
p. 475 – Star Trek Cats HC:

Surely she’ll be in there:


…And maybe even her:


…and of course this catperson, and Data’s cat Spot, and…well, the list goes on.
 
 
p. 476 – Star Wars Widevision The Original Topps Trading Card Series Volume 1 HC:


Look, about three different jokes about Porkins and, y’know “Widevision” came immediately to mind, and I know that’s low-hanging and certainly non-PC material to grab at, so I’ll try to be the bigger man about this.
 
 
p. 490 – Jason Todd R.I.P. T-Shirt:


“No, seriously, it’s a comic book character! He was killed off in the comics, kinda! It’s referring to that!”

“Yeah, yeah, tell it to the judge. Get in the car.”
 
 
p. 522 – Arkham City Harley Quinn 1/1-Scale Foam Replica:


“Harold, just what is that weird squeaking sound coming out of Junior’s room?”

“Mildred…you don’t want to know.”

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