1963: The “Mystery of Edwin Drood” of Comics.

§ November 25th, 2015 § Filed under publishing § 6 Comments

In response to my having noted the inclusion of the previously-unpublished conclusion in the Puma Blues hardcover, reader bad wolf wrote

“[It] makes me wonder how many other series/runs could be completed with only an issue or two’s worth of material, that would add immeasurably to their interest/resale value?”

In particular, he (I’m assuming “he,” apologies if I’m wrong) specifies the Silver Age Marvel pastiche 1963 by Alan Moore and pals, and Rick Veitch’s run on Swamp Thing. Now, Veitch’s truncated Swamp Thing run, for better or worse, was picked up, continued, and wrapped up kinda/sorta by other hands, so likely as far as DC Comics is concerned, that specific period is packagable and marketable as a completed product, should they decide to release trades of that material. Not that it seems likely…they’ve only reprinted Veitch’s run up to issue #81, and that was in a trade paperback that was released in 2006. DC has since skipped ahead to reprinting the Mark Millar (with Grant Morrison on the earlier installments) that start at #140, skipping right over the end of the Veitch run and the conclusion by the replacement creative team. I would love to have a paperback with Veitch’s “alternate” (i.e. original) ending, but unless there’s a sudden explosion of Swamp Thing-mania, I’d be surprised if anyone would go through the trouble to make that happen.

Ultimately, in retrospect it seems so silly. DC objected to, and killed, a story in which a time-traveling Swamp Thing encounters Jesus in what, as far as I can tell, seemed a relatively reverent manner (well, as far as you can go with the Messiah hangin’ with a swamp monster, I guess), and then later publishes Preacher in which God is just straight-up the bad guy. Just goes to show you…well, something, I guess.

Now, the 1963 series was planned to run six regular issues, and then it would be wrapped up in the 1963 Annual, where the retro-styled heroes introduced in the main series would encounter the “Image Universe.” This Wiki entry pretty much sums up why it will probably never happen, even though being able to publish “THE COMPLETE 1963” in a fancy hardcover would probably sell…well, slightly more copies than the series is currently selling now out of quarter boxes in comic shops across the world. Not having that final annual doesn’t hurt the entertainment value of the other six issues, but once you reach that last issue with the cliffhanger ending, you can’t help but wonder what could have been.

Bad wolf wonders about other stories cut down before their conclusions, and other reader Touch-and-go Bullethead suggests a few good ones, especially that Sergio Aragones “T.C. Mars” serial from Sojourn. I’ve actually come across copies of Sojourn over the years, which was a tabloid-sized comics newspaper, so I have seen T.C. Mars (who’s also appeared on a cover, or back cover, of my favorite fanzine Comics Reader). I wouldn’t mind seeing Sergio returning to that.

A couple story endings I wouldn’t mind seeing, though these ships have sailed, sank, and been covered with silt long ago: the Andrew Helfer/Kyle Baker Shadow, which over Conde Nast’s dead body would that be allowed to happen, I’d suspect; and Sonic Distruptors, though after reading Andrew’s review, perhaps I’m better off leaving that in the past.

Oh, and I’d like to see the ending to Eye of Mongombo too, so long as I’m wishing.

Diminished responsibility.

§ November 23rd, 2015 § Filed under self-promotion § 1 Comment

Oh, hey, the new Trouble with Comics Question Time is up, and the query of the week is “who is your favorite Alan Moore-created character that ain’t that John Consta-teen feller.” There may be a subtle hint as to my response in the corner box of my site, here. Or even in the title of this post. Or perhaps the big ol’ pic that heads the article I’ve linked to. Anyway, there’s that.

Yes, I Googled “giant book” to find the right tome to compare with the Puma Blues hardcover.

§ November 19th, 2015 § Filed under publishing, self-promotion § 4 Comments

So I was asked in the comments yesterday regarding the complete Puma Blues book if the “new” Alan Moore story in this collection was in fact the story from issue #20, published back in 1988. And the answer is, yes, the four-page story “Acts of Faith” written by Moore, and illustrated by Steve Bissette and Michael Zulli, is the one included. In fact, in the hardcover’s copyright information, it is specifically stated that only pages 44 through 47 of issue #20 are included in this volume (though see below).

I had forgotten that issue #20 of Puma Blues was an anthology issue, with multiple shorts (some only a page long) by a wide variety of creators, taking place in, or inspired by, the Puma Blues milieu. Creators include Peter Laird, Kevin Eastman, Rick Veitch, Dave Sim, Dan Day, Tom Sutton, and a whole lot more. From what I can tell, only the Moore/Bissette/Zulli story appears in the hardcover, along with Sim’s one-pager which is included with the hardcover’s introduction, and a page from the story “Pause” by Stephen Murphy, Zulli, and Bissette, included with Bissette’s afterword. As I recall, #20 was a benefit/tribute/something-or-other issue resulting from the Aardvark-Vanaheim/Diamond Comics brouhaha, which seems likely as the comic includes a timeline of events surrounding the incident.

Anyway, many of the contributions were pin-ups, and most of the actual stories were outside the main narrative, so you’re not missing any pieces of the plot if you only have the hardcover. But still, it’s something to look for after you’ve finished this Codex Gigas of a graphic novel.

I was also asked in the comments if I had any quality issues with the binding, and I have to say, no, not that I’ve noticed. Seems pretty solidly put together. It may be a different story as I enter, say, month ten of reading the thing, but it looks okay for now.

And in case you’re wondering, I did sell my shelf copy of the book in-store, after a handful of people picked it up and gave it a glance-through. More people than I expected actually remembered the series, after being gone well over a couple of decades, which honestly surprised me. Ultimately it went to someone who’d never seen the series before, and bought it on my recommendation after he spent some time paging through it. Hopefully he’ll like it and not come back and throw it at me in anger and disgust…that book could concuss a blue whale.

• • •

In other news: the latest Question Time is up over there at Trouble with Comics, and the question o’the week is “which work of Alan Moore’s is the most neglected?” Sadly, I cheated a bit and used a rewritten version of this post (which I do own up to in my contribution there). If I had time to actually write a brand-new entry, I might have picked Moore’s back-up serial from American Flagg! but it had already been covered in good detail here. Or maybe that pin-up he drew for that first Dark Horse Comics Godzilla black and white one-shot…that was pretty amazing.

But please go forth and take a look at my contribution there…it was based on a five-year-old post here, so maybe if you’d read it before you’ve forgotten it by now. Everything old is new again!

Puma, man.

§ November 18th, 2015 § Filed under collecting, retailing § 9 Comments

So early on in my store’s history, I made a crack or two on the Twitters about now being able to get all the comics I want for freeeeee, about loading up on DC Archives, etc. which alarmed a couple of retailer pals. I promised them I was only joking, that I’d be a responsible consumer. In fact, if anything, I’m probably getting fewer comics now…I’d rather leave ’em on the shelf for customers. (For example, see my answer to the first question here.)

That goes for graphic novels/trade and hardcover collections as well. My plan was to replace some of the comics I gave up to the shop (like Preacher and Invisibles) with the reprint collections eventually, but I’m in no great rush. Those particular titles aren’t in any danger of going out of print anytime soon, and even if they do, they should be in enough supply that copies will probably be available on Amazon forever.

As for new collections, I’m trying to restrict myself to items I’d already been acquiring, like the Complete Peanuts books. Only one volume to go in the series, kinda dumb to stop now. There are collections I’d love to own, like the Eightball slipcase, but I already have all the comics (which I didn’t give up to the shop!) so I’ll just leave that on the shelf for someone else.

But once in a while, I gotta splurge, as I did for the complete Puma Blues hardcover this week:

Look at the size of that thing. Here’s a better look at the cover, from Diamond’s site:

This is an beautifully-illustrated ecological sci-fi adventure/treatise/poem-kinda-sorta by Stephen Murphy and Michael Zulli (and a small bit of material by Alan Moore) published in the mid-to-late 1980s. Some folks may remember the comic as being a bit of a pawn in a battle between its publisher, Dave Sim, and Diamond Comics.

It had been a while since I read it…in fact, I’m not sure I sat down and read it as a whole since it was originally released. I bought each issue as it came out, and, as I recall, I found it to be a challenging and enjoyable work. It’s one of those things that had always been in the back of my mind to revisit someday, as it’s still sitting there in one of my remaining back issue boxes at the house. When the solicitation for this hardcover popped up in Previews, noting that it included the previously-unpublished 40-page conclusion to the series…well, Fan Mike outvoted Retailer Mike on this one and made sure I ordered a copy for myself. (And one for the shelf, too…I don’t know if any customers will go for it, but I like having it there, so that’s good enough reason.)

And, well, here it is, in my hot little hands, waiting for me to peruse it. Also included is the Puma Blues #24 1/2 mini-comic, which I seem to recall having some copies floating around my old place of employment, though for the life of me I can’t remember how we got ’em. I have a vague memory that they were distributed with one of the original Puma Blues trade paperbacks. At any rate, I never got one, so that’s a little more added value to the book.

Just briefly glancing through it, the reproduction seems nice and clear…no idea if it was shot from the original art, or scanned from printed pages, but it looks nice, especially now that it’s on white paper instead of newsprint (not that the newsprint was all that egregious). The original color covers are not reproduced…in fact, I’m not sure if the covers are in there at all, which is a shame as they were quite lovely. But overall, this is quite the tome and I’m glad to have it.

Almost typed “vinyl-ly getting.”

§ November 16th, 2015 § Filed under swamp thing § 3 Comments

I was Twittered at and emailed about a thousand times this weekend about this particular product, so I thought I’d better point it out on this here site of mine. Yes, we are finally getting the Funko Pop Vinyl figure we deserve — well, that I deserve, I don’t know about the rest of you jokers — Swamp Thing!

And yes, because I demanded it, there is a glow-in-the-dark variant as well:

…which will make a total of three glow-in-the-dark Swamp Thing figures in my possession once I get my mitts on it.

I do like that the gave the figure the solid red eyes, instead of the usual button-black eyes most of the rest of the figures receive. Now all we need to do is get Arcane, Abby, and, dare I dream, Cranius Pops and all will be right with the world. And in case you’re wondering…yes, I’ll be ordering a boatload of these for the store. I shall fill the windows and line the walls with them. I am confident that this will be a wise business decision.

Seriously. Just call him “Captain Shazam.” That would be okay.

§ November 12th, 2015 § Filed under this week's comics § 6 Comments

This was fun while it lasted…Jeff Parker, Paul Pelletier and pals using the “Justice League” concept to pull together whatever characters they felt like for a couple of issues of wild adventure, before moving on to the next grouping of heroes. This last storyline, mixing up DC’s WWI and WWII characters with modern superheroes, was a hoot, and totally summed up by a line of dialogue on the two-page spread featuring all the characters charging into action: “This is pretty freaking cool.” Unfortunately the series is a victim of Too Many Justice Leagues, and something had to go. Too bad, this book had really turned around and was beginning to pick up readers again.

Speaking of Justice Leagues, the premiere New 52 title is in the midst of its Darkseid storyline, and here are a whole bunch of one-shots featuring our heroes in the midst of having become “New Gods” themselves. Actually more fun than it sounds, and these one-shots are probably better at presenting the changes in these characters than the main JL comic itself. This one in particular, featuring Shazam, is completely bonkers, as Shazam has been cut off from the gods that originally provided his powers and is introduced to the new pantheon of beings supplying his current abilities. It’s a bunch of craziness, and while the abrasive personality of this New 52 version of Billy Batson certainly grates, the story just powers along from god to god, each of whom are just kind of jerky to Billy, and it’s pretty amazing. Also, I still hate that he’s called “Shazam” now…I understand why, but I don’t have to like it.

Yeah, I know who wrote it. It was still…not too bad. The story of young Clark Kent adjusting to his powers is a good idea, though the true horror of a super-powered child has been explored in alarming fashion already. If you liked that bit in Man of Steel with Clark’s burgeoning powers overwhelming him at school, here comes seven issues of it. The frequent “anime faces” take some getting used to, and some of the plot contrivances are a tad eye-rolling (Clark’s flight in front of witnesses explained away as a “gas pocket” exploding), but overall it’s a pleasant enough read. I do like the introduction of the concept that some other citizens of Smallville just by necessity know about Clark’s abilities, and hopefully we’ll see how that plays out over future issues.

I meant to say something about the first volume of The Bus from some time back, reprinting that most enigmatic and surreal of strips about an older gentleman, a bus, and the occasional confluence of the two, that I primarily remember from old Heavy Metal mags. Well, here’s volume two, with new strips about those very same things, still done with the most exacting linework, and the most bizarre circumstances therein. I haven’t done more than flip through it yet, but it looks like The Bus hasn’t lost any bit of what made it so special since it originally ceased running in the ’80s.

This cover is perfection. I would read the comic this cover is presenting, but of course it’s just a variant. Too bad.

Was going to give them a little grief about the scare quotes, but that’s actually appropriate usage, I suppose.

§ November 9th, 2015 § Filed under advertising, self-promotion § 1 Comment

So recently I reclaimed a whole bunch of old MacUser magazines from my parents’ garage. I was actually just going to recycle them…in fact, I had actually dumped them into my parents’ recycling bin when nostalgia took over and made me pull ’em back out again and take them home for one last perusal before I dump them into my own recycling bin…or sell ’em on eBay, whichever I decide. Now, most of these are from around my college days, the late ’80s and very early ’90s, filled with reviews of Hypercard stacks, ads for external 300mb hard drives for $2500, and defensive lamentations regarding the 3% home computer market share. But I am enjoying the rereads, particularly the occasional column from the late Douglas Adams, a huge Mac proponent.

In the back page ad section for the June 1988 issue, I found this:

I’d never heard of this particular project, and can’t seem to find any trace of it upon the Internet. The ad claims the comic is “packed with professional graphics That [sic] can be cut, copied and pasted” which makes me wonder if this was some kind of elaborate clip art library packaged in a comic book story format. Or, perhaps, panels were assembled in multiple layers, and each layer element of the drawing can be separated out by an art program. Or maybe I’m overthinking it and they’re just saying you can cut ‘n’ pasted panels willy-nilly. That they compare it to other “art libraries” makes me think “clever clip art presentation” more than “comic book.”

Right off, the claim that it’s the first “computer comic book” is off, given that Shatter beat it to the punch by a few years (unless they mean “distributed by diskette” which, well, still would like some citations there but maybe they’re right).

A prison with guards that work “9-5” seems like asking for trouble. You’d probably need some kind of night crew for that, right?

“A story better than Superman” – well, I can think of a few Superman stories over the years that would certainly pale in comparison to a clip art collection.

And it’s good to know a Certificate of Authenticity for a computer disc doesn’t sound any more or less silly than, say, a Wizard #1/2 certificate guaranteeing that this isn’t some fake copy of The Maxx #1/2, thus frustrating the huge counterfeit Maxx market.

Plus, I’d forgotten 400k diskettes were even a thing at one point. I thought it was a pretty big deal when we moved on up to 1.44mb floppies. Who could possibly need more space than that?

Anyway, this was just some sort of weird thing I noticed and thought I’d share with you all out there. I wonder if this ever was actually released? If anybody out there knows, let me in on it!

• • •

In other news, the latest Trouble with Comics Question o’The Week is up, asking “which creator and work was the most paradigm-shifting.” Usually when I see the word “paradigm,” I turn and run the other direction because that’s clue #1 that the conversation is about to go way over my head. But, I gave it my best shot, and I believe my answer is totally correct because I’m awesome an’ stuff. Another fellow answered with the same creator and work, and made some very good points about how it’s affected storytelling vis-à-vis packaging that I completely missed, so I guess I was only at about 90% awesomeness this time. Ah, well, we all have our once-a-decade low moments, I guess. But, go read…and keep checking back, because we’ve got some “moore” (WINK) good questions coming up soon!

Those of you who had “belly-up by month 11,” you’re out of the pool.

§ November 5th, 2015 § Filed under pal plugging, sterling silver comics § 15 Comments

Perhaps you’ve seen me make brief mention of my comic book store Sterling Silver Comics on this site once or twice over the last several months. Well, today is the one year anniversary of having opened that shop to the public, and I wanted to thank all of you folks, whether you bought something from me or offered moral support, for your encouragement of this sort of behavior. Many folks who’ve known me for years have commented on just how much…happier I’ve seemed now that I’m piloting my own retail ship, and you know, I really do think I am much happier. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before, but it bears repeating. At least, I like hearing it.

I’ve already talked about a lot of this back when I hit the one year anniversary of leaving the previous job, about the ups and downs of the first year, about the stress of starting up and the travails of keeping everything going. But here I am, at the first year anniversary, and if I could make it through the first year, I can make it through the second. And the third. And the tenth. And the…hundredth? I expect to see you all there for “Mike’s Brain-in-a-Jar Comics” at that anniversary.

Seriously though, thank you, my Internet pals and my real life pals who read this site and remain my pals anyway, for all of your support and kind words for this particular endeavor. It means a lot to me. I’ve been working the retail end of this business for twenty-seven years, and yet, in my own shop, it feels new and fresh again. That’s a good feeling.

• • •

In other news:

For Halloween, customer Mark popped by the shop in his great Batman costume:


He’s entered himself in the Halloween ComicFest costume contest, and if you could pop over to Facebook and vote for him, I’d really appreciate it! Alternatively, you could go to the main site and search “sterling silver comics,” and his entry will show right up. Thanks!

Tempted to just caption photos with “look at this vinyl doll! JUST LOOK AT IT!”

§ November 2nd, 2015 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, pal plugging § 3 Comments

Hey, pals…just wanted to apologize for not having done an End of Civilization post in a while. I always intend to…I flip through each Previews looking for likely entries, and even generate a folder of some scans…but I just haven’t been feeling it lately. I don’t know why…maybe it’s too much like work, though I did the monthly orders at my previous place of employment and I still managed EoCs. Probably the fact that I’m at the shop seven days a week now means I’m less inclined to spend free time paging through the catalog for laughs.

I still intend to keep it going. In fact, I still haven’t given up on this month’s entry, but we’ll see how it goes. At any rate, thanks for still reading my site, regardless.

In the meantime, here are some folks who, unlike me, are doing interesting things:

  • Pal Andrew just finished up this year’s Halloween Countdown, with a month full of good reading.
  • Bully, The Stuffed Bull That Walks Like A Bull, is casting his cute little button peepers upon Jack Kirby’s monsters in his own inimitable way.
  • Pal Dorian also just finished a month full of themed horror posts, mostly movies but some books mixed in as well. Certainly found more than a few to add to the ol’ Netflix queue, like I’ve had time to watch movies lately. (sigh)
  • Pal Dave is still looking back at old video and computer games of his youth, and since I’m about the same age as Dave, they’re of my youth, too. However, my experience with most of the games he discusses are via reviews and ads I’d read at the time, so it’s nice to read his experiences with them.

Robin’s hair is weird.

§ October 29th, 2015 § Filed under superman § 5 Comments

Due to popular demand (and because I should have mentioned it in my Curt Swan post myself), here’s a beautiful example of the Swan/George Klein art combo featuring Superman and his friends from Action Comics #309 (February 1964):

For more on this issue (including more representative panels) I direct you to this previous post of mine, as well as this one.

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