“No WiFi or USB port – 2 1/2 stars.”

§ June 28th, 2016 § Filed under harvey § No Comments

spymanhand1

spymanhand2
 
 

from Spyman #1 (September 1966) by Jim Steranko and George Tuska

When I die, Saint Peter is going to ask me how much of my life did I waste thinking about Popeye continuity, and it’s not going to go well.

§ June 27th, 2016 § Filed under popeye § 3 Comments

So in a collection I recently purchased for my store (that store being Sterling Silver Comics, located in beautiful Camarillo, CA) there were a couple of really beat-up copies of the 1970s Charlton Popeye comics. I haven’t been actively collecting those for myself, but occasionally they do fall into my hands and, thus, into what remains of the Vast Mikester (Personal) Comic Archives.

George Wildman was the cartoonist responsible for these particular comics I obtained, and was in fact responsible for most, if not all, of the Charlton Popeye run. (A quick look at the Grand Comics Database listing for the series doesn’t note credits for lead stories in some of the books, but I’m pretty sure Wildman did a lot of them.) Mr. Wildman, by the way, did pass on just recently, and I direct you to this obituary by Mark Evanier. Looks like Mr. Wildman drew a lot of fun comic books, and the Popeye comics of his that I’ve read are just close enough to the original strips to be recognizably Popeye-esque, but usually with a completely bonkers and anarchic feel to the proceedings to make them their own unique experience.

In any case, I was reading one of these Popeyes (specifically issue #124 from July 1974), in which Wimpy and Popeye are called out to a remote island estate to investigate a haunting, where I happened upon this great full-page splash that I just had to share:

popeye124aaa
Now admittedly, I’ve only read a handful of the Charlton Popeyes, but I don’t recall too many full-page drawings in them. I especially like this one, with its spooky ambience and the stairs winding through the cliffside. It’s the sort of picture I probably would have spent an inordinate amount of time studying and imagining about as a child.

Now, there is a ghost in this story, but not the one Popeye and Wimpy were called out to initially bust. Turns out Patcheye and his faithful ghost parrot Matey were on this estate, trapped in a bottle:

popeye124bbb
Yes, he’s identified as Popeye’s grandfather, and the fact they recognize each other right off made me wonder where he’s appeared before, since I’m not familiar with the character. A quick search shows that he first popped up in issue #67 of the Popeye comics from Gold Key, back in 1963…in a story by E.C. Segar’s successor Bud Sagendorf, no less. Now, that database listing has Patcheye as Popeye’s great-grandfather, which I think I’m a little more comfortable with, but regardless, if Sagendorf put him in the comic, I will consider that at least B-Level Canon in the Expanded Popeye Universe. Hopefully IDW’s Popeye reprint program will get this far into the comics so I don’t have to search out the originals!

Another cute gag is this callback to Popeye’s first appearance in comics:

popeye124ccc
You can see the original strip on this page for comparison.

Oh, and I just flipped through the other Popeye comic I had here (#123 from November 1973) and it turns out there are two full-page images in this comic, face to face, as the last two panels of a story:

pop123yy pop123zz

Maybe splashes like this during this particular period of Popeye books were more common than I realized. Clearly the only answer is tracking down all the rest of the issues for myself and doing a complete survey. I’ll let you know how that goes.

So I was going to write about…

§ June 23rd, 2016 § Filed under star wars, this week's comics § 2 Comments

STL006686
…the fact that the Force Awakens comic book adaptation is coming out now, long after the theatrical release and the home video release, theorizing as to why, etc., but it turns out the answer is apparently just “hey, it happened when it happened.”

On the Twittererers, @bensonmic let me know that Jordan D. White, one of the folks behind Marvel’s Star Wars funnybooks, indicated on his own Twitter and/or Tumblr that it just wasn’t something they were prioritizing. I went on the endless scroll through Mr. White’s Tumblr, not finding that particular post but certainly appreciating the man’s nearly endless patience for some of the fan interactions he was…enjoying. But anyway, the aforementioned @bensonmic later sent me the link to the actual post in question, put up last Christmas:

“The comic book adaptations of movies have not been as big of a thing since the advent of home video. Back when, getting a comic was one of the only ways to reexperience the story of the film when it was out of theatres. Now, you can own the film relatively soon after, so it’s less imperative to get the adaptation out right away. If we do one, we can take the time to do the comic as accurately and awesomely as we can.”

Which of course makes complete sense. I even said the same thing on this site…guh, eleven years ago, which is a mindset I’m still in, and that’s why I’m always surprised when a new movie adaptation comes out. Mostly, it’s just Marvel adapting previous installments of their superhero films before the next film comes out (like the Captain America: Civil War Prelude from late 2015/early 2016, which adapted 2013’s Iron Man 3 and 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier).

But still, the Force Awakens comic feels like bit of an anomaly, but hey, what do I know, it came out this Wednesday and it sold just fine, so clearly there’s an audience for it. And, um, I got it too, since I’m pretty much in the bag for all things Star Warsian (at least as it pertains to the characters I grew up with, and not, say, novels set 10,000 years before A New Hope and featuring Jedi Master Tu Ma’nee Apos’troph’ez versus Darth Menacingname). And even though I know it’s a five-parter, it felt like the film’s story was so compressed in the opening pages I briefly wondered if this adaptation was a one-shot.

I mean, yeah, it’s probably an entirely unnecessary comic, given that most of us interested enough in actually buying it almost certainly owns the film itself in the format of one’s choice. But there are some nice illustrative moments, and the adaptation of the script is fine, and let’s face it, if there wasn’t a comic book version of Episode VII, it would certainly be noticeable by its absence. “Star Wars movie comic” is just one of those constants of the industry, present whether you want it or not.

I wonder if Ian ever notices when I reference him in my blog posts.

§ June 20th, 2016 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, how the sausage is made, question time § 4 Comments

Back to your questions…cruisin’ in with the following is Pedro de Pacas:

“So how DOES the sausage get made?”

Well, I take some of the excess bits of Progressive Ruin, ground it up, and…okay, that’s not what I do. Generally, before I turn in for the evening, I plop myself down in front of the ol’ Atari 800 and start to type away. Now, typing’s the easy part. I’m a goood tipyst. It’s the actual content that can be tricky, since, as you likely know, I’ve been hackin’ away at this blogging thing and generating content for nearly 12 1/2 years now, and that’s not counting my previous online behavior at LiveJournal or on message boards or on local BBSes and of course the secret journals that can only be revealed after my death and I’m long past Ian’s vengeful reach. Point is, I’ve said a lot of stuff, and covered a lot of ground, and I’m not sure I have any more “good ol’ ‘Death of Superman‘ days” stories left in me.

In general, though, posts on this site can come from just my daily adventures in retail and overall retailing philosophy, seeing something odd in an old comic, reminiscing about past events, reacting to current comics news, occasionally reviewing comics, and just being silly…you know, the usual stuff comic blogs are made of, but hopefully I provide enough of a unique perspective to keep you all coming back every couple of days. I mean, I see my stats, and that can’t all be search engine spiders and people in the Ukraine trying to crack my password.

The one source of blog content I do miss is interactions with store employees, most of whom were about halfway nuts and therefore good inspirations for postings. Like, for example, this interaction I had with Employee Aaron about the Dungeons & Dragons comic, or my conversations with Kid Chris. Sadly, now, at my own store, it’s just me and my volleyball Wilson, and he doesn’t say much.

And on a related note, googum googums

“Anything new and good in what’s left of the comics blogosphere, or is it all over?”

I’d been sort of dreading this particular question, since I felt like this would be a big topic that I couldn’t do justice to. For example, I might end a sentence with a preposition.

However, I wouldn’t say the “comics blogosphere” is over, by any means, though even typing the phrase “comics blogsphere” whisks me away on nostalgic winds to the year 2004. Even now, you can go take a look at the current iteration of the Comics Weblog Update-A-Tron 3000 and see the latest updates from many still active comic book weblogs. (And I always point out that I saddled the previous iteration of the Update-A-Tron with that particular name, an act for which I likely should apologize.)

The comics blogosphere as it existed Way Back When in the early/mid-2000s, when I entered the mess, is largely gone, of course. I don’t just mean “folks ain’t around,” though folks did move on, leaving behind blogs to move into actual paying writing jobs, or just leaving when they decided they were done, or guided their blogs toward other topics, or just lost interest and let things peter out. A lot of the interaction between bloggers is gone, too, as others have mentioned…inter-blog discussions and debates and the infrequent feud (joking and otherwise) aren’t as common as they used to be. At least, not that I’ve seen, and that’s another thing….

…I don’t frequent other blogs as much. It used to be, before I’d post, I’d do a quick rundown of the latest posts on the Update-A-Tron to make sure I wasn’t accidentally duplicating another person’s content. Seems crazy now, since I’m pretty sure I was the only person championing All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, and besides, even if I was tackling the same topic as another blogger, I’d like to think my voice is unique enough to put my own personal spin on the matter. Nowadays, however, I simply don’t spend a lot of time reading comic blogs. I mean, I do follow some, and I have ’em in my feed reader, and sometimes other sources (like Twitter) will direct me to blog posts that interest me. But that level of interaction I used to have, going directly to other sites, leaving comments, building conversations…there just isn’t enough time anymore.

Another change in the blogging world that initially discouraged me was the advent of the group blogs, the ones hosted at the comics news/press release sites that had several people creating multiple posts every day, and how was one poor dumb blogger like me going to compete with that amount of content? Why go to Progressive Ruin and his handful of posts per week, when you can go to The Big Professional Comics Blog Emporium and get dozens of posts about Lois Lane having to become a Black woman every hour upon the hour? …Okay, I’m teasing slightly, but it was a bit imposing at first, until I accepted this wasn’t a competition, that several folks working for these sites were people I liked, and that my site had the one thing I was “selling” that other sites couldn’t: me! Sure that’s a bit egotistical, but one doesn’t write a comic blog with his name in the title, relating his opinions for nearly 13 years by being a shy, retiring wallflower. (Also, I did write for the group comics blog Trouble with Comics for a while until some scheduling problems took me away from the site for the time being, so take my group-blog comments with a grain of virtual salt.)

The other thing is that online comics discussion is always evolving…traditional blogs may have been “the thing,” and for lots of people they still are, but there’s Tumblr, there’s Instagram, there’s Twitter, there’s podcasting, and so on. I’m sure there’s some platform people are actively using to discuss comic books about which I am totally unaware, because I am an old person and not hep to your current jive. I suspect I’ll be sticking with my trusty WordPress installation long after everyone’s moved on to BrainJet DirectConnext online communications since I tend to hold onto things way past their shelf life.

In short; yes, googum, the comics blogosphere, or Twittersphere, or Tumblrsphere, is not yet over. It’s not the same as it was, but that’s a good thing. …But I’ll require someone to tap me on the shoulder when it’s time to go, because I won’t be able to tell, myself.

I’ll mention that Multiversity issue here in the subject line, since I forgot to do so in the body of the post.

§ June 16th, 2016 § Filed under question time § 9 Comments

ScienceGiant looms over me with

“Wow, have the Charlton heroes been ill-served by DC, or what? With the most egregious example being what’s happened with The Question.”

Oh, I don’t know. I mean, if all that was ever done with the Charlton heroes at DC was serve as inspiration for Watchmen, that would have been a worthy use of them.

Overall, though, I think DC has found some good use for the Charlton heroes over the years. I remember when DC first acquired said heroes from that publisher, this was just before Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the Blue Beetle was introduced in that series as, I guess, the representative of whatever parallel Earth he was supposed to be from. “Earth-Charlton” didn’t last very long, as the characters were folded into the DC Universe proper and we got that Blue Beetle series, Captain Atom, a Peacemaker mini, and so on. Plus, of course, we got Blue Beetle as part of the more humor-inclined 1980s Justice League series, which has pretty much defined that version of the character to this day.

In more recent comics, we have the new Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle, who’s had a couple of short run series with a new ongoing on its way, and has been prominently featured in several of DC’s animation projects.

Now, the Question…he had a sizeable and well-regarded run of a series (that even featured him “meeting” his Watchmen counterpart Rorschach), a weird but great mini by Rick Veitch and Tommy Lee Edwards, and was replaced by Renee Montoya from the Batman comics (and cartoon). A popular interpretation of the character was his portrayal as a super-conspiracy theorist in the Justice League cartoons (voiced by fellow Oxnard native Jeffrey Combs).

So overall, the Question’s done okay, though his most recent, post-New 52 interpretation as some kind of being from parts unknown, punished by cosmic powers with the removal of his face and memories and cast down to Earth, where he hung out with Pandora and the Phantom Stranger, was…perhaps a little off-model. Points for trying something different, but it just didn’t seem right. Also, the Question’s alter ego Vic Sage appeared in one of the Suicide Squad titles, but I didn’t know about that ’til I looked at the Wikipedia page. So, yeah, the Question’s use of late has seemed a little sloppy, but as we all know after reading DC Universe: Rebirth, New 52’s continuity/character issues were all caused by Dr. Manhattan, which seems kind of fitting in the Question’s case given the relation between his Charlton origins and the inspiration for Watchmen.

As a whole, the Charlton heroes have had a fair shake at DC, I think, despite some recent lack of use/misuse. I’m sure they’ll pop up again…plus, there’s Blue Beetle, who is popping up again, like I’d said.

And ScienceGiant had another question:

“Also (yeah, yeah, one per commenter. I know. But I gotta know) what was the deal with Pandora from DC’s New52? Or should I call her Poochie, based on the way she disappeared after Trinity?”

…which was sort of made moot by recent events, which ScienceGiant responded to just a few days ago. Yes, you can ask another question if you’d like!

Anyway, my initial answer was that I thought she’d have a more metatextual function, relating to whatever undoing of the New 52 continuity would eventually happen, given her introduction in Flashpoint presented her knowledge of multiple timelines/universes/etc. I guess that was sort of right, considering her ultimate fate and where/how it happened. And there was that bit of business where she had cameos in every(?) New 52 launch title, implying that she was super important, and, well. You got that one Justice League story and that one short-lived series, and I suspect whatever ultimate plan was originally plotted out for her, it never really came to fruition. I mean, I don’t know. Sometimes stuff works out, sometimes it doesn’t. What Can You Do?

He has swamp thing to say.

§ June 15th, 2016 § Filed under pal plugging, swamp thing § 2 Comments

I’ve had a particularly long Tuesday, so all I have energy for, before I crumble to dust before your eyes, is to type out this link to Pal Andrew, who has answered my question posted to him re: his favorite Swamp Thing story.

I should ask him more Swamp Thing questions…he’s good at answering them!

Questions within questions.

§ June 13th, 2016 § Filed under question time § 1 Comment

In response to last week’s post, David asks

“Have you ever seen a market for ‘misprint’ comics?”

Well, in fact, I was Googling up a couple of misprinted titles that I remembered, and what appeared before my eyes was the site Recalled Comics, which appears to be a very thorough database of what it says on the tin, there. Not just recalled comics (like the infamous Elseworlds Giant and that Hooters comic) that were presumably error-free, but things like that Venom: Lethal Protector #1 where errors in the foil application resulted in some oddball variations (and enormous eBay prices).

One specific error comic that I’m still interested in obtaining is the All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #10, in which the naughty words in the dialogue that were supposed to be “censored” by black boxes were in fact still legible due to the insufficient opacity of said boxes. It did answer the question, at least in the case of this specific release, that when comics do the redacted black-box thing, the actual words they’re blacking out are there. My memory of the event is that, when this comic first was released, the copies that made it out into the wild did end up on the eBays for a significant amount of money. Right now, just doing a quick search, you can get a copy for around $20. so there’s still some demand for this, too.

That comic was quite literally recalled at the last second, as it was on the invoice that accompanied that week’s shipment. Our copies were pulled out of the boxes prior to being shipped to us, but other stores did get their allotment, and I’m sure in some cases they “sold” “out” before word of the recall came down.

Not all errors result in demand, of course. Comics with the pages out of order and never corrected with reprinted editions (like Batman: The Cult #4) or comics reissued with corrected cover prices (like a recent issue of IDW’s Popeye, initially released with a $3.99 price, with a $4.99 replacement coming a week or so later)…nothing’s ever happened with those. And there’s that All-Star Squadron annual where everyone’s green for half the issue…it’s amusing, but it was never corrected either, so there’s no rarity to it.

So, David, my answer is “yes, sometimes, depends on the comic.” In general, if every copy of the comic has the same error, there’s probably no extra demand, but if only a few copies have the error and was re-released in corrected form, some demand may accrue. In general, I repeat myself. I’m sure there are exceptions.

And then there’s this comic, where the error can only repel due to its disgusting nature:


UUUUGH.

Anyway, so that’s my commercial for the Recalled Comics website (which I’ve been enjoying over the last few days), and was also me pushing reader David ahead in the old Question Time queue. Back with more in a day or two.

§ June 12th, 2016 § Filed under condolences § No Comments

theflag

The White House’s statements on the shooting.

Donate if you can.

The worst use of the word “realistically” ever.

§ June 10th, 2016 § Filed under question time § 5 Comments

Let’s tackle a couple more of your questions, shall we?

BRR chills me with

“I’ve seen some recent distinctions between newsstand and direct market editions of some back issues in a couple online marketplaces. Do you have back issue customers seeking one or the other?”

By and large, no, not really, unless there’s something else different about the comic beyond whether it has a UPC code instead of Spider-Man’s head in the little box on the cover there. Like, for example, that one Amazing Spider-Man annual where Peter and Mary Jane were finally married, for ever and all time, never to be undone. The direct market comic shop edition had Peter ‘n’ MJ in a tux and wedding dress, respectively, whereas the newsstand edition had Peter in the red and blue longjohns. Usually there’s a preference either/or when someone’s looking for that comic. And then there’s the early Image Comics releases, like Spawn and WildC.A.T.s, that had newsstand editions with different cover stock and (in the case of WildC.A.T.s #2) a non-enhanced cover to contrast with the foil-y shiny cover that went to comic book stores. Or there were those covers DC test-marketed to newsstands (on the far right here).

I seem to recall very early on, a few decades back when I was but a young comic shop employee and not the stogie-wielding/martini lunch-having comics retail mogul I am now, that there would be some resistance from certain back issue customers against buying one version of the cover or the other, when the only difference was whether or not it had a UPC code. I tried to reassure some folks, when they questioned the difference, that there really wasn’t any, but some people just preferred one over the other for aesthetic reasons.

Now I just did a quick eBay search on the word “newsstand” in the comics section, and I see a lot of entries where people are emphasizing “NEWSSTAND VARIANT” or words to that effect on items where it probably doesn’t make any real difference (like an issue of Harley Quinn, where the only change is that the one that went to comic book stores had “DIRECT EDITION” with the UPC code on the cover). And I see one of those aforementioned Spawns that went to newsstands with an adventurous $50 price tag. But for the most part it looks like “newsstand” is being thrown around as yet another descriptor to make one’s listing stand out.

I mean, yes, for the sake of informing the customer, letting them know this was the version of the comic distributed on newsstands versus comic shops is yet another detail to more finely describe the item for sale, but I haven’t looked into it enough to know if “newsstand variant” (in which the only difference is UPC code vs. Direct Market UPC code vs. picture of Spider-Man’s head) is enough to create a significant jump in demand/pricing. Online sales, particularly eBay sales, can be a whole different animal than in-store sales, so it wouldn’t surprise me if some subset of collectors are seeking out newsstand editions only. I’ll have to look into it a little more.

• • •

The Mutt mixes up a couple of breeds with

“The Fat Fury v Swamp Thing. Who wins?”

Well, I love ’em both, as some of you readers out there already know. The personal bias is for Swamp Thing, of course, but realistically Swamp Thing would likely find himself outmaneuvered and stymied at every turn by Herbie “The Fat Fury” Popnecker’s nigh-magical influence over man, nature, basically all of creation itself.

Now, Herbie versus Tolkien’s Tom Bombadil…that’s a fight!

So now there are two different comics called Flash: Rebirth to go with the two different Flashpoint series.

§ June 8th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 5 Comments

SPOILERS AHEAD

flashrebirthcvr

So this is the first Flash comic I’ve bought in…six years, I guess? Since the previous Flash: Rebirth and a couple of issues of the follow-up regular series, at least. I just decided, at that point, that I’ve read enough Flash comics, and was a bit put off that franchise anyway due to starting/relaunching/returning to the old numbering at about that time. Plus, having discarded Wally West (the previous Kid Flash, who had taken over his mentor’s mantle) and going back to Barry Allen as the Flash seemed very…retrograde, particularly after a couple of decades of Wally as the Flash and the then-deceased Barry as the ideal Wally always tried to live up to – a scenario that worked very well, I thought. Of course, all those botched re-relaunches killed whatever sales momentum the Flash franchise had, necessitating some desperate measures…in this case, bringing back the character who was one of the two big deaths from Crisis on Infinite Earths.

That said, there were a couple things here that at least got me to try out this new Flash: Rebirth #1. First, there was DC Universe: Rebirth, which brought back the old, pre-New 52 Wally West, stuck in the Speed Force and trying to find some touchstone to bring him back to Earth. The touching scene between him and his uncle Barry was quite effective, I thought, and I wanted to see more of that relationship, as well as where things were going to lead with the larger metaplot of “Just What Is The Deal with This New 52 Universe, Anyway?” And yes, we do get a little bit of both, though it doesn’t go much farther than what we’ve already seen in that Rebirth one-shot from a couple of weeks ago, but it is, at least partially, from Barry’s perspective. I don’t know if we’ll see much of said metaplot when the Flash series proper starts up, but it looks like it might continue over in a Teen Titans, based on what happens here.

Now I don’t know if my interest in the series will continue outside of this larger picture subplot stuff, but it at least got me to pick up an issue of The Flash again for the first time in forever. I see that the book, at least in part, reflects the TV show (or perhaps the other way around…again, haven’t read it in a while) in that Barry’s father is present in an advisory/support position, and that his situation (framed for the death of Barry’s mom) is also similar. Now, some of the groundwork for this way be in the original 2010 Rebirth mini, but man, I don’t remember now. Regardless, it’s a nice familiar touchstone for anyone coming to this title new who may only know the TV show, especially given the larger DC Universe Event hoohar that’s also thrown in.

Other new books:

Action Comics #957 – the old numbering is back, which is nice. But speaking of DC Universe Event Hoohar, the background to everything going on in this Superman book is a lot to take in. The New 52 Superman died, with the Superman from the pre-New 52 universe, who has been hiding out in the New 52 universe for years raising his son Jonathan with his wife Lois, taking his place, and I’m assuming the eventual payoff to this, once the other shoe from this Rebirth event drops, is some kind of “streamlining” of the DC Universe reality so that there’s always been just one Superman. In the meantime, as odd a set-up as that sounds, it actually all works in context, and it’s quite the interesting hook for Superman adventures, at least for the time being. It helps that Dan Jurgens, one of the main contributors to Superman over the last couple of decades, is on board as the writer. It feels like the old Superman (well, okay, the post-1986 John Byrne reboot Superman) versus the New 52 Universe, which is going to be the recurring theme as this all plays out, I guess.

Popeye #47 – still reprinting Bud Sagendorf comics from the 1950s. No idea how this reprint project has lasted so long, but I’m so glad it did.

Daredevil #8 – okay, I’m no Daredevil historian, but I’m pretty sure this issue does things (or rather, doesn’t do things) with his powers that haven’t been seen in a Daredevil comic before. Very clever.

Wacky Raceland #1 – you got me, I haven’t read this yet, but I’ve enjoyed the Hanna Barbera revamps so far, so I’m willing to give this one a shot. A quick glance through the book shows a somewhat more extreme take than either Future Quest or Scooby Apocalypse, so I’m not entirely sure how this is going to go, but you certainly can’t fault that terrific Tommy Lee Edwards “Penelope Pitstop” cover, which the variant I decided to take:

wackyrace1
Anyway, I have a feeling this comic is going to be the hardest sell of the new HB lot, but we’ll see.

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