But will either of these projects tell us which first issues will be hot hot HOT?

§ August 3rd, 2015 § Filed under pal plugging, self-promotion § 3 Comments

So a long time ago, Alan David Doane asked me to contribute a regular column to his website Comic Book Galaxy. That monthly column, Behind the Counter, ran for a little over a year and a half, until CBG underwent…a retooling? A brief hiatus? I don’t recall now, but it was fun to do and I’m glad Alan gave me the opportunity to do it.

Alan continued blogging at Trouble with Comics, which he just recently relaunched with a whole new slate of contributors, including yours truly (and a few others who are participating but didn’t get their bios in on time, you guys ‘n’ gals).

Now, I warned Alan that between my own site and that store of mine, I’m probably not left with a lot of time or material to contribute there. However, one of the regular features is a roundup of responses to a weekly question, which sounded like fun to me, so that’s where you’ll likely see my input on that site. This week’s question is “Which single creator most influenced your perception of the artform?” and while I’m sure you all think I’m gonna answer “Ernie Bushmiller” or “Frank Miller” or “Alan Mooremiller” or “Charles Miller Schulz,” I think my response may surprise you.

• • •

Speaking of this sort of thing, Tom Spurgeon just released the first bit of business from his Comics Report project, the monthly comics magazine you can support right here for a practically-free two bucks a month. It’s an interview with cartoonist Keiler Roberts, and this preview gives us a sneak peek at the layout and design of the magazine, which is very nicely done. The aforementioned Alan (David Doane, not Mooremiller) has a review of that very thing on the also aforementioned Trouble with Comics site.

Now it used to be, back in the olden days when I had this now nigh-mythical thing called “free time,” I would regularly scour the new comics ‘zines as they came in. Amazing Heroes, Comics Interview, Comics Journal, and so on…I would absorb these cover to cover, even reading the articles and interviews I wasn’t especially interested in. As these faded away, only to be supplanted by Wizard and Hero and other magazines that…were less to my taste, shall we say, I sort of fell out of the ‘zine reading thing, though I’d still pick up the occasional decades-old Comics Reader I was missing from my run, and maybe, like, one of Roy Thomas’s Two-Morrows mags if something caught my eye. And of course there were comics news sites on this Internet thing, and comics blogs, but feh, who wants to read a comics blog?

It looks as if Spurgeon’s The Comics Report may be a return to the more in-depth comics mag of yesteryear while maintaining the ease of online convenience we’re all accustomed to now. I can’t wait to see the final product. It’s only two bucks a month, like I said. That’s only half the cost of Age of Ultron Versus Marvel Zombies, and I’m sure The Comics Report will be at least twice as good.

Are you an Ant-Man or a Can’t-Man?

§ July 31st, 2015 § Filed under movie reviews § 1 Comment

Just got in from seeing Ant-Man…it’s nearing midnight as I write this, so I’ll keep it short. Or small. Like an ant. An ant man.

Hold on, let me try that again.

Just saw Ant-Man, and it was a vast improvement over the last Marvel film inflicted on us, Avengers: Age of Disjointed Nonsense. While I wasn’t terribly eager for yet another superhero origin story, this one was unique (I believe) in that it gave us our first legacy superhero, more or less, in which an older hero passes down his name and powers and so forth to another. It was also a story which worked at a much smaller (har har, yes, I know) scale than recent Marvel movies, less bogged down by the shared universe, or at least incorporating it in a more natural, less in-your-face fashion. Having only one superhero guest-star during the course of the main story was something of a relief, though from the looks of things we’re going to get the exact opposite of that in this forthcoming Civil War movie.

Anyway, it was exciting and interesting, and, something the Marvel movies have been particularly good at, funny without undermining the characters. If anything the humor helps along that suspension of disbelief required to buy into all this craziness. That’s the kind of deep insight that keeps you two or three dozen people coming back to Progressive Ruin Dot Com.

The film also had one of the greatest, most fitting cameos of all time. No, not Stan the Man (yes, he’s there)…I’m talking about this fella. And I gotta give them credit for actually working the phrase “tales to astonish” — the name of the comic Ant-Man first appeared in — into the dialogue.

So, Ant-Man: surprisingly good. I’d recommend you go see it, because I’m sure you totally haven’t by now.

That’s it, I’m off to bed. Pleas-ANT dreams!

(sigh)

Didn’t even care enough to capitalize the name.

§ July 29th, 2015 § Filed under publishing § 5 Comments

So the other day I bought a handful of comics (from someone surprised I wanted these over the ubiquitous Web of Spider-Man issues also in his possession) that included these two mini-series: Disney’s Pocahontas:

…and Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame:


These two minis are reprints of the one-shot adaptations also released in the mid-1990s. The Overstreet guide lists the one-shots, but not these minis, as far as I can tell. I had actually started typing a long-ish paragraph speculating as to the origins of these minis, but the process of doing so awakened some ancient memories in this cobwebbed brain of mine. A little Googling confirmed those dusty recollections, that these two-issue minis were sold in two-packs in toy stores and such, as shown in this image “borrowed” from this eBay auction:


Why the one-shots were split into two comics for sale this way? I’m assuming so that the customer feels like s/he’s getting more bang for that two or two-and-a-half bucks, over paying the same amount for just one single comic that’s basically the same thing.

It does solve the mystery of why no cover prices are present, though the indicias in the comics do have suggested retail prices.

Mostly the reason I wanted to present these here are the Comics Code Authority stamps on the covers. Pocahontas has the traditional stamp we all know and love:

…but apparently when they were slapping together the Hunchback covers someone misplaced the photostats (or whatever) and someone was all like “c’mon, nobody cares, just type it in there” –


…and there you go. Not quite “Cosmic Code Authority” level, but an interesting variation on that familiar cover element nonetheless.

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ July 27th, 2015 § Filed under End of Civilization § 9 Comments

What? Time for one of these again? Say it ain’t so…but it is! It is! The End of Civilization waits for no man, and we can see what’s barreling right down the tracks at us by getting our your copy of the August 2015 Diamond Previews and following along! I apologize ahead of time for my overlooking such things as “publishing lead times” for the sake of a joke, as well as any tummy upset that may occur during, um, a couple of the entries:

p. 78 – Superman Lois & Clark #1:


Hey, finally we get a spin-off from the Convergence event, and…huh, it’s not based on the Shazam! comic that everyone was excited about. That’s funny, you’d think you’d want to build on that buzz, but, well, this will probably be good, too.
 
 
p. 79 – Telos #1:


Oh, okay, here’s a Convergence spin-off featuring…um, I don’t see the Shazam! characters anywhere. That’s strange.
 
 
p. 80 – Titans Hunt #1:


Ah, here we go, Captain Marvel’s probably in there some…where…there’s Batman, and Starfire, and…huh.
 
 
p. 144-5 -Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Batman and Superman Statues:


“TELL ME…DO YOU BLEED?”


“No, but I have this support bar that makes me look like I’m flying! You should try yours…oh, you don’t have one? So sad!”

 
 
p. 324 – Grumpy Cat #1:


“We must prevent Grumpy Cat and Hello Kitty from ever touching…or the resultant matter/anti-matter explosion will destroy the universe!”

Anyway, just working on my pitch for the eventual team-up book. Don’t none of you bastards steal my idea.
 
 
p. 408 – The Comic Story of Beer GN:


Missed opportunity to have a special “water ring damaged” variant.
 
 
p. 423 – Dreamworks Classics Digest Vol. 2:


Alas, not a “team-up” book where Po just beats the tar out of Shrek. Someday, my friends…someday.
 
 
p. 467 – Make Comics Like the Pros SC:


Presumably includes a special chapter on how to deal with a bunch of ungrateful online jerks who don’t appreciate your hard work and mock you in, say, website posts.
 
 
p. 468 – 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die HC and 1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die HC:


“Ah HA! If I never watch the 1001st movie or TV show, I will never die!”

“But Mike, the 1001st movie is Frank Miller’s The Spirit II and the 1001st TV show is an unaired episode of Doctor Doctor!”

“Well…who wants to live forever? DIIIIVE”
 
 
p. 473 – The Walking Dead The Pop-Up Book HC:


You remember those Al Jaffee drawings from Mad where a character vomits, and there’s just this huge massive jet emitting from the poor character’s mouth, filled with, like, bones and stuff? I sorta picture the same jet of bones ‘n’ junk shooting out of this book when you open it.
 
 
p. 521 – Star Wars Kitchen Storage Set:


Nobody enjoys Droid Constipation Repair duty.
 
 
p. 525 – Star Wars Jedi Hooded Robe:


That is one tall Jawa…
 
 
p. 525 – Star Wars Chewbacca Fleece Robe:


…and here he is in his Wookiee cosplay. “Uti-GRAWRG!”
 
 
Marvel Previews p. 42 – What If? Infinity – Thanos #1:


The origin of Thanos’s villainy, revealed at last: everybody laughed at his convention costumes. Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Cloud…nobody appreciated his work.

…Now you’re probably picturing Thanos in Namor’s little green Speedos. You’re welcome.

You don’t really need me linking you to the new Bloom Country strips, do you?

§ July 23rd, 2015 § Filed under pal plugging, sir-links-a-lot § 1 Comment

 

We now return to Progressive Ruin, which is already in progress(ive ruin).

§ July 21st, 2015 § Filed under retailing § 5 Comments

Sorry I missed Monday…was too beat Sunday evening to work my little typin’ fingers.

Anyway, judging by the response to this post, most comic shops do carry credit cards (with one or two minor exceptions). That’s good to know, though I’ll tell you, over the weekend I had several more “do you take cards?” inquiries. Maybe I need to start asking these folks if they’d been to comic shops that didn’t sometime recently…or maybe they hadn’t been in a comic shop in 30 years. Who knows?

Walaka asks:

“On a related note, aren’t most of them debit cards now, or are folks actually putting comics on credit?”

It’s a pretty good mix of both, I think…people paying for their comics directly out of their checking account, or (hopefully) paying off their credit cards at the end of the month. I think it leans heavier towards debit cards, if I think about it.

That Augie De Blieck Jr. character wonders:

“There used to be a law against minimum credit card purchases. Not sure if that was a state or federal law, but it seems to have slipped away over the years. Either it changes, or so many businesses started to ignore it that it wouldn’t matter.”

There wasn’t a law as such, I think*, though the merchant agreements from the various cards prohibited setting minimum purchases. Though, as is implied in your statement, enforcement was a little lax. And eventually, a law was passed allowing minimum purchase limited, so long as it wasn’t more than $10, and as long as it was applied solely to credit cards. You still can’t put minimum purchase limits on debit cards. Here’s one place where the law is discussed.

*A CAVEAT: I could have sworn California did have some kind of law on the books preventing minimum credit card purchases at one point, but my brief Googling about didn’t turn it up. Though it doesn’t matter now, as per above.

Jim Kosmicki relates:

“…Saw a note taped near the cashbox/register stating that there would be no more loans made from the cash register.”

EGADS. I’m assuming that was for the employees. Just trying to picture customers walking in and asking “hey, can I borrow five bucks? I’ll pay you back next week!”

Will H queries:

“But who still takes checks?”

I do! Well, mostly it’s just from one fellow, and it’s a guy I’ve had as a customer for 20+ years, so I figure his checks are probably okay. Aside from him, I’ve probably only had…two or three other people write checks to me? Not a common payment method nowadays, though as I related to someone on the Twitters the other day, as a business owner I still write a few checks, for rent and utilities and such.

This reminds me of a customer we had at my previous place of employment who always paid with a check. That wasn’t unusual, except the only personal information he had on his check was his name. No phone number, no address, no driver’s license number, nuthin’. And he invariably made purchases in the hundreds of dollars, breaking a thousand bucks at least once in my memory. The first time I dealt with him at the register, I was about to get his ID and my old boss waved it off, saying “he’s fine, don’t worry about it,” implying a relationship that preexisted my employment. And sure enough, for the rest of the years I was there, and with all the checks the guy wrote us, every single one was good. Plus, in later years I got to tell other employees “yeah, his check’s good, don’t sweat it” and have them give me the same look I probably gave Ralph all those years ago.

Former Employee Nathan tells us:

“I *do* get asked pretty often ‘Do you accept cards?,’ but that’s very likely a regional tic, as [San Francisco] has a rather large number of cash-only restaurants and specialty retail stores.”

Huh, that’s a good point, given your location. I’m pretty sure that’s not what’s going on here, unless the bar down the road is cash only and I’m getting lots of traffic from there.

Brad smashes Big Brother with:

“Sure, but do you take Apple Pay?”

I’ll trade comics for iPhones and iPads, sure.

• • •

So long to Alan Kupperberg, who passed away at the too-young age of 62. That man wrote and drew one of my all-time favorite oddball Marvel comics, and bless him for it.

“Yes, yes, but do you accept Bitcoin?” “(sigh)”

§ July 17th, 2015 § Filed under retailing § 35 Comments

So a question that’s popped up from new patrons to my store with surprising frequency over the past few weeks is “do you take credit cards?” Now, maybe it’s just a strange question to me from my particular position, in that I see that the majority of my business is done via credit and debit cards. For a lot of people, it’s just more convenient to have their spending cash accessed that way rather than making sure they have actual folding money on them.

Anyway, I thought it was odd, since, well, wouldn’t it make things that much more difficult in a retail setting by not offering credit card processing? Over the years I would dread any time there was some kind of glitch in the credit card machine, requiring resetting or, God help us, downloading a program update on its .003 baud modem, forcing us to delay or even turn away credit sales for a time. And that was just for a few minutes…I couldn’t imagine not having a card machine in the store at all, given the large percentage of customers who pay with cards aaaaand that’s pretty much it.

I wondered about this on the Twitters, and a few folks responded back, with one letting me know he was in a comic shop that didn’t take cards just within the last month, and another saying that the only places he encounters no-CCs-a’tall are some cash-only eateries and, yes, comic shops. (And blogging brother Tim brought up the point that we’re lucky we’re not all still using cash boxes instead of registers…which reminded me of Marvel’s early 1980s program of actually assisting comic shops with purchases of registers, but that’s a story for another time, I think.)

I mean, I suppose I can see the upsides to not taking credit cards: getting your cash immediately instead of waiting for a day or two to deposit; no fees; no worries about your credit card machine going kaput and taking that financial hit until you get it fixed; electromagnetic waves from the CC machine leeching away your precious humours, and so on. But considering that lots of people depend on using their cards for transactions, the advantages of not accepting cards is far outweighed by the inconvenience for customers.

This could be a regional thing, too…dependence on cards may just be greater in my general area, but in other parts of the country maybe most people still just prefer cash transactions. Or maybe the comic shop is small, with a limited clientele and smaller transactions and folks just find it easier to deal with cash instead of credit, and can’t afford taking any kind of hit from the fees. Or maybe the owner didn’t want to jump through the hoops to apply (or couldn’t jump through the hoops) to get approval for a credit card machine…it was bit of an annoying process to get one for myself, involving several phone calls and the occasional warning that they might not want to give me a machine. I even had someone from that bank send out an inspector to confirm I actually was a physical store.

There are also little card readers that plug into smart phones and iPads and whathaveyou, so there are still options if you can’t get a dedicated machine put into your shop.

As I’m sure some of you know, I’ve been at this comic retail thing for a long time, so I do remember a point at my previous place of employment when we also didn’t have a credit card machine. But, dependence on cards for transactions wasn’t quite at the level that it is today, so I don’t think it hurt us too badly…or maybe it did; it’s not like anyone was going to shout “WHAT? You don’t take CREDIT CARDS? I’m taking my $10,000 credit limit elsewhere!” as they stomped out the door. But the time did come when we had the machine put in, and…well, I’d like to say “suddenly people started spending a lot more money at the shop, so convenience for the customer does improve sales!” but I honestly don’t remember any specific alterations in buying habits at the time. Just, as time went on, cash and check transactions gradually dropped as credit card sales gradually rose and, like I said earlier, the majority of sales nowadays, at least around here, are via card.

I do remember telling a customer at the other shop way back when that we were going to get a credit card machine put in, and the customer basically harumphed at me and declared “that’ll be the day when I buy comic books with a credit card!” …Pretty sure that day came for him sooner than he expected.

A little survey, if you don’t mind: don’t mention store names or locations, other than maybe a state — don’t get people mad at your pal Mike for no reason! — but let me know in the comments if your local shop accepts credit cards. And again, this isn’t me trying to be a jerk about it…it may seem strange to me to not have a CC machine, but what may be right for me in my particular circumstance may not be right for someone else, so I’m curious as to how other stores are handling things.

That’s a fair question.

§ July 16th, 2015 § Filed under low content mode § 4 Comments


Alas, my duties as King of Los Angeles have cut into my blogging time, so my planned post for today will have to wait ’til tomorrow. I suspect I’ll be deposed by then anyway.
 
 

from Dennis the Menace #109 (July 1970) – art by Ed Nofziger

Well, that was fast.

§ July 13th, 2015 § Filed under newspaper strips § 3 Comments

New Bloom County strip already up!

Kids, ask your parents what Bloom County is.

§ July 13th, 2015 § Filed under newspaper strips, pal plugging, sterling silver comics § 2 Comments

So as it turned out, I had a pretty good weekend overall, despite my worries about losing some of my regulars to the San Diego Con. I had a good flow of customers, did some brisk business on the eBays, even managed to get a headstart on the monthly Diamond order where I’ll be ordering enough of the B.P.R.D. neon signs that you’ll be able to see my store from space. And it was a warm weekend, so praise the deity or deities of your choice that I had access to air conditioning at my shop. Wonderful, wonderful air conditioning.

Anyway, comic news: there was a Batman V. Superman trailer folks couldn’t wait to hate (I don’t know, looked interesting to me…Wonder Woman’s in there, too), a Deadpool trailer (talked about here) that apparently provided at least some evidence that a Deadpool movie actually exists, the Archies are meeting the Ramones (will the Archies meet G.G. Allin next? “G.G.! What are you doing with Hot Dog?”), there’s more Multiversity coming from Grant Morrison (inexplicably not called “Multiversitoo”), and so on…

…but I think my favorite news, not from all that San Diego hoohar, is Berke Breathed returning to Bloom County! I’ve seen a mention here or there that it’s coming back as a webcomic, though I haven’t seen an official declaration of that anywhere. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places. Seems to make sense, though…given Breathed’s famous dislike of the shrinkage of strips on the funnypages, working on the web would give him all the room he wanted. Anything that gets more Opus and Steve Dallas and Milo in my life is okay by me. Again, as I demonstrated in this post here, I’m torn between “hooray, something I loved is coming back!” and “no sir, you can’t go home again,” and…yes, new Bloom County won’t suddenly put me back in high school or Reagan back in office or Boy George back on my radio (all situations I would have mixed feelings about…well, okay, I’m all for Boy George being back on the radio) but I am looking forward to seeing what new things Breathed can bring to the table with these old favorite characters.

This reminded me that we’ll soon be seeing Academia Waltz and Other Profound Transgressions, a hardcover in the style of the complete Bloom County/Outland/Opus volumes, reprinting of Breathed’s college strip and other pre-BC work. You can see the Academia Waltz strips here, and, uh, yeah, they’re definitely…um, primordial, but it’s still an interesting look at Breathed’s early development.

Completely unrelated to any of the above, I keep forgetting to mention that I helped Bully, the Little Stuffed Spacebull, with an entry in his 365 Days of Star Wars Comics feature. He even (unknowingly!) posted it on my girlfriend’s birthday! IT’S A BULL-INCIDENCE!

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