Now, do you suppose that when Bouncing Boy is using his powers, it sounds like a rubber ball when he hits the ground, or it sounds more like flesh and bone repeatedly hitting pavement? Because if it’s the latter, that would be really gross.
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Now, do you suppose that when Bouncing Boy is using his powers, it sounds like a rubber ball when he hits the ground, or it sounds more like flesh and bone repeatedly hitting pavement? Because if it’s the latter, that would be really gross.
For no good reason whatsoever, here are the items across the top of my work computer’s monitor, from left to right…I put that cardboard behind it to cut down the glare from the window in the background:
Squishy computer toy thingie – left behind by the child of a customer a while back.
Warm Fuzzy – or whatever they’re called…the little fuzzballs with the antennae, the big sticky feet, and the googly eyes. Well, my fourth grade teacher called ‘em “warm fuzzies,” and if it was good enough for Mrs. Measures, it’s good enough for me.
Plush mini-shark – with spring-loaded jaw. I believe pal Dorian is responsible for this somehow.
Owl fingerpuppet – left behind by Kid Chris when we went off to UCLA. Hunched over like that, it looks as if its unblinking eyes were staring right at me, piercing into the very depths of my shameful heart.
Cardboard Lament Configuration from Hellraiser – when the Marvel/Epic Hellraiser comic book series again, it was accompanied by a package of stiff paper promo items for us to give away along with the comic, featuring a Lament Configuration (or Hellraiser Box, as I usually hear it called) that you could cut out and assemble yourself. I kept one and put it together for the store…and all these years later, even after having moved the entire store twice in that time, it’s still there, intact, threatening to suck my soul into promotional item hell, or something like that.
Along with the comic I discussed yesterday, I found a few other books in our Midnight Madness blow-out bins from a couple weeks ago. I happened across a full run of Jonni Thunder A.K.A. Thunderbolt, a mini-series by Roy & Dann Thomas and Dick Giordano. When I last talked about this series, I noted that copies, along with several hundred other comics, were cast off in The Great Comics Purge of ’94…and this series is one of the few I regretted losing. (I also shouldn’t have sold off my Roger Stern/John Buscema run of Avengers, but that’s another post.)
Haven’t had a chance to sit down and reread it yet, other than skimming it briefly before writing this entry, but I do want to note two things: first, in a good and decent world, the simple fact that Dick Giordano was drawing a comic book series starring a beautiful female detective would have been enough to get this mini on the stands, without having to throw “…and she turns into living lightning!” into it as well. Second, I said in my post from a year and a half ago that my memory was that the Flexographic printing process DC was using on some of their “special project” books at the time didn’t do the artwork justice. And boy, was I right. Everything’s too bright and garish, and there are several instances of off-register colors…here’s a sample:
It looks like the line art printed well, but the coloring is so futzed up by the printing process, you can’t even look at the page at times.
Unfortunately, before DC abandoned this particular method of printing, they sullied some of their biggest books with it, such as the first issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths #1:
I don’t know if these coloring errors were any more or less frequent than in comics with the standard process, but they sure show up a lot more clearly with the brighter printing. The early Who’s Who issues got stuck with it as well.
Related…do you remember a time when comic fans were a lot more aware of the various paper stocks and printing processes? When we were all concerned about newsprint, and Mando paper, and Baxter paper, and whatever the paper stock was that Ronin was printed on? I’m sure it was because of the emphasis the publishers themselves put on the flashy new paper they were using for their books…and also because of the sheer novelty of having white paper after decades of newsprint. Nowadays paper stock is usually only brought up in discussions of how to drop comic book cover prices by printing everything on newsprint again, though as I recall it’s been explained that for a standard 32-page funnybook, the actual price difference would be negligible if they did so. And besides, I’m used to the whiter paper…I’m spoiled now.
A few more things I yanked out of the Midnight Madness boxes for myself:
- The first four issues of The Bozz Chronicles series from Marvel/Epic, by David Michelinie and Bret Blevins (with a guest art appearance by John Ridgeway). An alien (Bozz) stranded on Earth in Victorian England finds his suicide attempt interrupted by a lady of the evening…and one thing leads to another, as the two of them form a detective agency. Now that’s high concept. It’s a series I’ve been intrigued by since I first read about it in a long-ago Amazing Heroes, but never got around to buying it until now…and I’ve read the first issue, which was darn good. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Bret Blevins’ art, and I’ve forgotten just how easy on the eyes it is.
- Comics Interview #66, featuring Keith Giffen and Andy Helfer talking about their work on Justice League International, Ty Templeton talking about his cartooning, and Roy Thomas talking. I have a lot of the earlier issues of this series, and if it’s one thing I need, it’s more fanzines.
- Random scattered issues of All-Star Squadron – When I was but a young Mikester, I was absolutely fascinated with Roy Thomas 1980s DC work, particularly with the Earth-2 material. However, I didn’t keep up with his All-Star Squadron run (there was some storyline early on that I didn’t care for, and I just stopped reading), so nowadays I just pick up the occasional issue when I can. A lot of it didn’t age terribly well, but every once in a while there’s a nice sequence, like in one of the issues I picked up, #31, where there are two two-page splash images presenting the entire team. And Uncle Sam is in the book…I’ve always liked that Uncle Sam character.
So, good, more comics to read. Exactly what I needed.
"…Even Alec is speechless as his TRS-80 poses problem after problem for him to solve, faster than he ever thought possible."
Okay, so I’m not the first person to go after the Whiz Kids, the four-color spokeskids for Radio Shack’s line of TRS-80 personal computers, and their various team-ups with Superman. I’m not even the first person to go after this particular comic, Superman in The Computer Masters of Metropolis (1982 Edition), since Ron at Fortress of Soliloquies did so over a year ago. But, hey, I found a copy in our Midnight Madness clearance boxes and decided to keep it for myself, and sharing these finds is one of the reasons I have this weblog, right? Right.
So this story (by Paul Kupperberg, Curt Swan, and Frank Chiaramonte) starts off with Alec and Shanna, the “TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids,” and the rest of their class being introduced to the idea of computer networking by their teacher. The introduction consists primarily of the teacher sending math problems from her “host” computer to each student’s individual station, thus tricking them into thinking that doing schoolwork is fun.
All of a sudden, Wonder Woman pops in with a surprise…she’s arranged for the class to go on a field trip to the Metropolis World’s Fair, where they’ll tour the fair’s electronics and computing exhibit! I don’t know what the teacher, Ms. Wilson, has on these superheroes, but she sure has some luck getting them to do favors for her. It’s even commented on in the story: says Alec, “first we get visits from Superman and Supergirl, and now you! We’re beginning to look like a regular super-hero convention hall around here!”
But before departing for the fair, Wonder Woman still has a few words to say to the class about the importance of computers:
Okay, why Alec didn’t get his smart mouth smacked off for the “Ms. Expert” comment, I have no idea. But Wonder Woman’s nonchalant mention of her “secret identity” did throw me off a bit. In this post-Crisis era of DC Comics, characters openly discussing the fact that they even had secret identities seems a little…naive? Passe? Quaint? Since part of the mid-80s Superman revamp was the doing away of Supes ever letting on that he even had another identity, it seemed as if secret I.D.s as a whole were less important. Some heroes did away with them (such as the Wally West Flash, or Ray “The Atom” Palmer), others were more careless with them (like Hal Jordan, who didn’t go out of his way to hide his double-life as Green Lantern in the early ’90s). Anyway, Wonder Woman immediately shoots down Alec by telling him lots of people work with computers, you dumb kid.
Finally, Alec and Shanna get to demonstrate their computer whiz-kiddiness by connecting the classroom TRS-80 Color Computer to an Information Retrieval Service using their Modem (Interface II). Look closely, you young whippersnappers, since this is how Grandpa used to get his porn:
Wonder Woman is impressed:
…And then she spends the next page describing how you can use this new technology for weather reports, news updates, online shopping, games, spam, the Nigerian scam, forwarding stupid jokes and absolutely true virus warnings, blogging about All Star Batman and Robin, trading MP3s and movie files, and did I mention the porn?
And what the hell is Superman up to this whole time? Well, that dastardly Lex Luthor threatened to wreak some of his trademark havoc at the fair unless the fair officials ponied up a pile of greenbacks, in revenge for his own inventions being rejected from display, so Supes has been on the lookout. When he does finally track down Luthor, one thing leads to another, and Superman finds himself trapped in a prison of Luthor’s devising…well, partially the fair’s devising as well, since it’s in the temporarily-closed planetarium exhibit. Luthor flies inside, and as Superman follows, Luthor triggers red solar radiation emitters, stripping Superman of his powers. Luthor then locks him inside the building, the doors armed with explosives, with no way to escape! Luthor’s superior intellect has created the perfect trap, without flaw, without the slightest crack or hole in his pris…oh, wait, what’s this?
Yes, it’s a phone. That Luthor sure is sporting. And really, why would Superman need to convince anyone that he’s Superman to get him out of the building? Wouldn’t a “hey, I’m trapped inside a building at the fairgrounds, please come get me” be enough to get some authorities out there to rescue him?
As I noted previously, Luthor’s motivation for causing a ruckus at the fair is because his inventions were not allowed to be displayed. Using your typical comic book logic, Superman figures that Luthor will make his initial strike against the fair at the exhibits were his inventions would have been presented, had they been allowed in. He remembers that the Daily Planet ran a story on Luthor’s threats against the fair some time back, but can’t remember the details on which specific exhibit was the one that did the rejecting. He tries to call the Daily Planet for the info, but gets a busy signal on what is apparently the Planet’s single phone line. So, Superman, who couldn’t remember the details of a story involving his arch-nemesis, remembers the home phone number of Whiz Kid Alec, and calls to ask him to use his amazing computer powers to access the Daily Planet’s online archives.
Alec, despite his smart mouth, is a good kid, and does Superman’s bidding, calling up the Daily Planet stories in question on his home TRS-80 Color Computer:
Once he gets the information he needs, six or seven hours later, he and fellow Whiz Kid Shanna manage to get the info to Wonder Woman, who rescues Superman, then they capture Luthor (who was going to blow up the computer and electronics exhibit, surprise, surprise), and we’ve all learned a little something about the importance of computers. Specifically, the TRS-80 Color Computer, the pinnacle of home computing achievement.
But honestly, if you really wanted to get kids interested in the TRS-80 computers, I have two words for you:
Pope Nathan: “I like the fact that DC has all these superintelligent gorillas in their universe. Gorilla Grodd, Congorilla….”
Me: “Well, Congorilla isn’t really a superintelligent gorilla…Congo Bill uses his magic ring to swap minds with the gorilla, so it’s actually a human brain in there.”
PN: “How ’bout Ultra-Humanite? He’s a pretty cool superintelligent gorilla.”
Me: “Actually, that’s a human brain surgically implanted into a mutated ape.”
PN: “Oh, okay.”
Me: “You know, if you told me when I was five years old the kinds of conversations I’d be having as an adult….”
…since in our area, that means everyone makes beelines to the local malls, and the small businesses (like ourselves) get it right in the shorts. Oh, we’ll get the Christmas traffic spike eventually, but it’s usually after the malls have been stripped bare and shoppers make their way to the retail borderlands out of desperation.
Still, it’s kind of a drag, since that makes things slow, slow, slow around here…so, you know, if you need any comics or graphic novels or anything mailed to you, now’s the time to ask, so drop me an e-mail. I seem to have plenty of free time at the moment. (Not that I’m standing around doing nothing, but I’d rather be collecting some coin of the realm instead of fooling around with inventory.)
We are selling some things, though…I’ve sold yet more copies of the Watchmen trade paperback over the last week, which still blows my mind. After all these years, it still doesn’t gather dust on the shelf. Which reminds me…a week or so ago, DC sent us a promotional e-mail telling us about all the media attention for the rerelease of Watchmen in the oversized hardcover Absolute edition, and how we as retailers should take advantage of it. Boy, I’d like to, but we sold out of all our copies of Absolute Watchmen and it hasn’t been available for reorder since it originally shipped. The trades still sell though, as I just noted, so I guess I’ll just settle for that.
Oh, and have I mentioned that I finally sold another copy of Liberality for All?
Even though our store got shorted on our order of Giant Monster #2, I did manage to get a review copy in at Progressive Ruin HQ courtesy the good folks at Boom! Studios. There’s not much more I can say about the second issue that I didn’t already say about the first, except this issue has the titular Giant Monster fighting a big freakin’ Nazi robot, and friend, that’s entertainment. There’s some very dark humor in here, particularly with the crowds of Americans cheering on the Nazi robot as it seemingly defeats the Giant Monster (“Don’t you think we should have painted over the swastikas?” asks one of those kids that always seems to get involved in oversized monster shenanigans), and with the estranged wife of the Giant Monster’s host. It’s funny, it’s gruesome, and it’s pretty much review-proof. Either you like big freakin’ monster comics or you don’t — and I do! Go check it out…assuming the distributor sent copies to your store. (Razzin’ frazzin’ Diamond….)
And, for no good reason, aside from telling pal Dorian about it the other day and wanting to send him the link: the proposed, then aborted, Star Wars novel series that would have connected Earth to the Star Wars Universe. The look on Dorian’s face when I told him about this was priceless. (And I’m sure a lot of you knew about this already…but it was news to me! I only found out about it perusing the timeline found here.)
Friday, we had yet another visit from former employee, now college boy, Kid Chris, showing us his swell new squant-colored sweater. Here’s a picture of him at our shop, perusing the latest in the finest of intellectual entertainment, now that he’s got himself some higher learnin':
KID CHRIS, THINKIN’ MAN
Also paying a visit was the most far-flung of the ACAPCWOVCCAOE, pal Ian:
IAN BRILL (Artist’s conception)
Ian was regaling us of tales of the comics buying, reading, and drinkin’ at the retail shops up there in the San Francisco area, and boy, the more I think about it, the more I think our store needs some kind of lounge as well. Just someplace where I can kick back, relax, enjoy some quiet time….
Oh, you mean the lounge is for the customers, too? Crud. Well, as long as I can have my store shooting range in the back, I’ll be happy.
…seeing a complaint about this in this week’s Wizard was the last straw. So, one more time….
The “bizarre” dialogue in this panel, from Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All Star Batman & Robin #2, which has caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth at Batman’s “out of character” behavior:
…is explained in this panel, on the very next page:
It is explicitly stated in the narrative that Batman is behaving in such a fashion to test Dick Grayson’s reactions.
I don’t know…maybe my copy of the comic was the only one that had that second panel in it.
Not saying the comic is perfect, but I’ve seen too many people present that first panel (or other panels of Batman’s extreme behavior) as if it were how Batman is normally characterized in this book, not mention the explanation on the very next page, and go into hysterics about “Miller ruining Batman.” If you don’t like the whole sequence (or the whole book, for that matter), fine, but don’t pretend that particular piece of dialogue just came out of nowhere, with no context. I mean, you wouldn’t catch me doing that.
Okay, now that I’ve alienated everybody…let’s talk about New Comics this week:
First off, we were shorted a bunch of titles, including the new issue of Walking Dead (which, according to our distributor, we may or may not ever receive) and Giant Monster #2 (sorry, Ross!), plus several other smallish-press stuff. Very annoying.
Comics Journal #272, which we did get, reprints some choice pages from John Stanley’s Thirteen Going on Eighteen comic. Great stuff, and well deserving of a full reprinting.
The new issue of Warren Ellis’ Jack Cross came out, and was met by a handful of customers telling me that this will probably be their last issue. And it seems to me that, looking at some online reviews, a lot of people don’t care for the series. (And by “online reviews,” I mean reviews from reasonable and rational people, who more often than not are Ellis fans — not knee-jerk “I don’t like Ellis he’s weird” message board reviews from people scared and/or jealous of him.) I don’t see this as being any better or worse than other Ellis projects of this type, but I haven’t really given it a careful reading, so I’m not the best judge. Reasons I’ve heard include “confused politics” and “going to the ‘I’m a Hard Man‘ well too many times.” Well, if things go south, they can always retroactively make this a DC Universe title and turn Jack Cross into the new Spectre. (Just kidding, please don’t kill me.)
Evil Ernie in Santa Fe #2 – Hey, that offer on the back cover stating that readers can return their copy of the comic to the publisher if they don’t like it, and get their money back? Can retailers do that too?
Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories #663 – New Don Rosa story, featuring Donald Duck reteaming with the rest of the Three Caballeros. It’s part one of (I think) three, and it’s a whole nine pages, which kinda steams my clams. But nine pages by Don Rosa is like 27 pages by anyone else, so I guess I can let it slide.
Holy smokes, a new Palookaville (#18) is out, featuring the continuation of Part 3 of “Clyde Fans.” Filmed in “Depress-o-vision,” certainly, but a new Seth comic is always something to celebrate. I just hope the story wraps up before I hit retirement age.
Okay, so remember a couple days ago when I was poking fun at reporters who use the forty-year-old cliche of “POW! BAM!” headline titles?
Well, here’s another one, but this title is funny, and therefore exempt from my scorn:
Ah, “plotz,” truly you are a great word.
Wait a minute…the new issue of Girls doesn’t have a naked lady on the cover! How do they expect to sell any copies?
Whip out your copies and celebrate your Thanksgiving (where applicable) by looking at bizarre and peculiar merchandise due out in your local hobby shops in February ’06. It’s what the Pilgrims would have wanted.
p. 26 – Aliens Predator Panel to Panel – There’s some kind of irony, I think, in that Dark Horse is publishing a book showcasing, in part, artwork from the Aliens Vs. Predator comics that they haven’t had in print since before the Aliens Vs. Predator movie.
p. 164 – From McFarlane Toys, a three-dimensional representation of the Led Zeppelin 1 Album Cover. Lemme know when McFarlane gets around to a 3D version of this cover.
p. 186 – I’ve been wanting a Galactus Mini-Mate figure for quite a while now…well, it’s here, it’s eight inches tall, it’s resin, it’s non-posable, and it’s $85. Okay, now I’m wanting an affordable Galactus Mini-Mate figure. One where I can at least move the arms…and maybe take off the helmet to reveal Galen’s face. Let the boy have his dreams.
p. 229 – Friday the 13th: Jason Vs. Jason X #1 – The comic pal Corey and I should have written, with the good Captain taking the old, tired Jason pages, and yours truly taking the pages featuring the vastly improved, and much tougher, Jason X…of the future.
p. 245 – Painkiller Jane returns with a new #1, and will probably end shortly thereafter, as soon as the forthcoming lousy made-for-Sci-Fi Channel movie is inflicted upon an unsuspecting public.
p. 283 – Transformers: Infiltration: “Ask your retialer [sic] how to get the rare Guido Guidi ‘Starscream’ cover.” – No, please don’t. I haven’t checked yet, but it probably involves ordering far more copies of the other covers for our shelves than this dying property deserves.
p. 286 Spike Vs. Dracula #1 – “You know, I bet mention is made of Spike’s claim that Dracula owes him money.” (reads soliciation) “Yup, there it is.”
p. 400 – Oh, for God’s sake, more Lord of the Rings trading cards? Give it a rest, already.
p. 404 – Casino Askew Poker Deck #1 – Hold ‘Em McNeil – Featuring color photos and equally colorful dialogue from the film Chasing Amy on the faces of the cards.
p. 422 – Aliens Deluxe Pewter Chess Sets, with the Aliens versus the Colonial Marines. The Queens are the Queen Alien (natch) and Ripley in the Power Loader. Available in two editions: painted, and plain ol’ unpainted pewter.
p. 422 – Big Screen Bears Series 1:
“Introducing the Big Screen Bears – plush teddy bears patterned after your favorite cult movies characters. Series One is scheduled to include: Pinhead (from Hellraiser), The Bride (from Kill Bill), Jay and Silent Bob (from Clerks), and Jules and Vincent (from Pulp Fiction). Each bear stands approximately 10 inches tall.”
Okay, I started typing that thinking this is a ridiculous idea, but by the time I finished, I realized that there’s nothing I want more than a Pinhead Bear.
p. 425 – Big Bird Deluxe Action Figure! Complete with pal Little Bird! Fantastic.
p. 425 – Labyrinth Goblin King Jareth 12″ Action Figure – Little known fact: money was saved on the Labyrinth film by having David Bowie just wear his own clothes for the shoot.
p. 430 – Transformers: Optimus Prime Head Replica. …There’s not really anything I can add to that.
p. 435 – It wouldn’t be a Previews with some outrageously-priced Buffy the Vampire Slayer prop replica. This time it’s the Vampyr Book Replica, with a “worn leather look” (i.e. probably not actual leather) that “opens to reveal an attractive, velveteen-lined hidden space.” 12 inches by 14 inches by 5 1/2 inches deep…only $129.99.
p. 460 – Monty Python Black Knight Talking Bop Bag – I have yet to be disappointed by any item from Monty Python’s current merchandising onslaught. A Black Knight bop bag is genius.
p. 462 – Cthulhu Novelty Hat:
“The perfect head covering for those cold winter days, costume parties, an evening get-together of Cthulhu’s minions, and the prevention of anything even resembling sex.”
Okay, I may have added that last part.
from Nutty Comics #8 (1947)
I don’t really have a joke or anything here…I just like that image.
Also in the same comic is “Buddy Beaver” and his girlfriend Bessie, proving that “bigger, wider eyes” doesn’t always mean “cuter:”
“Hi kids! We’re on the crack!”
And this other panel from the story disturbs me for no reason I can easily name:
Let that fuel your nightmares, friends.