mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, July 22, 2006

"Be the talk of the town..." 

from Haunted #57 (September 1981)

"Hey, I'm putting together this masquerade kit ad, and I'm stuck on what to name this particular make-up example."

"Oh...I know! Why not call it 'Black Face' -- that's a completely neutral term without any kind of racist historical context, especially in relation to make-up usage, and it's certain not to offend anyone."


Friday, July 21, 2006

So close, you can practically smell it. 

Lots of walking through crowds in these videos, but they give you an idea of what sort of shenanigans are going on at the San Diego Comic Con. This first video (runtime: about 4 minutes) has a cameo appearance by Marc "Beastmaster" Singer:

This next video (runtime: about 10 minutes) features Eric and his meandering through the vast comic and sci-fi-filled halls of the con:

My Man at San Diego. 

Kid Chris gave me a call from the audience of the San Diego Con blogger panel just as it was starting...no, not to tell me that he was going to peg everyone with pies, but to say that, um, there weren't a whole lot of people in the audience for it.

Well, you know, if they'd spice it up a bit, like with a breakdancing competition, or a blogger disco strip-off, then you'd have a panel.

Anyway, KC called again after the panel's conclusion to let me know that a few more people did end up showing up for it, and reported that 1) folks were sorta ganging up on nice guys Tom Spurgeon and Chris Butcher, 2) when the audience was asked "Hey, who out there is also a blogger?" pretty much everyone raised their hands, to no one's surprise, and 3) someone was nice enough to namedrop ("in a good way," Chris says) my site during the proceedings.

And that's all I got out of my on-the-scene reporter before he went to the Battlestar Galactica panel. The lucky bastard.

"...Our main lady, whom I will call, Diana...." 

Too hot and tired to do a proper post, so it's back to the DC Forums for more fun:


"To Whom It May Concern:

"This is a sincere open letter from the fans of Wonder Woman to The Powers That Be at DC Comics.

"We are a stubborn lot and have seen our main lady, whom I will call, Diana, through thick and thin. We have jumped on during hot new relaunches and enjoyed many varying 'takes' on the character and her supporting cast.

"Out of the blue, a new 'take' was announced months ago that took Diana out of the main protagonist role, in her own book. Suspense builds. I am a fan, have been for years. But a hyped launch of an unnecessary thrid volume has now been propagated by alot of negative situations:

"1. Main Author Allan Heinberg's chronic late scripts
2. Gorgeous Artwork of the Dodsons... delayed (yet fresh and detailed).
3. Donna Troy, as Wonder Woman in our main, 65 year old protagonists place?
4. The second issue of this 're-launch' that was forced on us is now delayed by one month?! To August 9th?

"Printing the comic for the first time in 7+ years on miraweb paper again can only bring in so much in satisfaction and sales.

"People will rarely remember what someone says, but we remember actions, failure to follow through and how someone or something makes us feel. This is not intended to be about harnessing negativity but alerting DC to the failure to back up what it hypes and its gross and unnecessary negligence in the relaunch on a cultural icon.

"The main entity responsible for coordinating art and writing and delivery is the editor. Wonder Woman sales were on the rise prior to her re-launch and now we are forced to endure yet another delay? With no editorial explanation. That denotes poor planning, a lack of customer empathy and failure to provide not even an ideal but cursory customer experience.

"A 'training' opportunity for the new Wonder Woman editor is not sufficient. Effective immediately, we ask for someone at DC who cares about its readers, its loyal and new customers, to curtail this disaster... We ask for the termination of the current editor. We ask that the editor be replaced with someone who can provide quality and reliability in the delivery of an ideal reading experience that centers on Diana, the One True Wonder Woman.

Very Truly Yours:"

I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the concerns with lateness (it's a problem for retailers too, you know), but that whole "petition" is so couched in the language of fan-entitlement ("You're not doing Wonder Woman the same way I'd do it!") that it's effectively a useless gesture. Not that internet petitions have a lot of use anyway.

Another message boarder has his back:

"Why do WW fans get accused of overreacting even in the face of overwhelming evidence that their favorite character continuously gets shafted?

"What qualifies as a reason to get mad to some of you guys?

"WW is supposedly one of the big three (more like big joke) but only has one title.

"WW has barely been seen in the past few months and after being promised high heaven only appears in one page of her own relaunch.

"This is not a character with the luxury of countless titles.

"What manner of incompetent even thought that a year of barely publishing WW was the definition of making 'Wonder Woman as important as both Superman and Batman in the DCU and the eyes of readers.'

"I for one am overwhelmingly dissappointed at Heinberg's first attempt and most definitely promise to drop this title for the rest of the year if one more issue is published off schedule.

"No way I am putting up with this nonsense and neither should the rest of you."

Ah, the schadenfreude of fanguish.

As long as I'm on the topic of Wonder Woman (with a little something extra for #1 Wildcat fan pal Dorian):

"Wonder woman ambiguos sexuality"

"In the amazons myth, these brave woman are portrated as fierce warriors but also as heterosexual(totally different fron the Saffo myth), but for some reason WW has never 'go all the way' with anybody...some flirt with supes, same thing with bats...but so far not a single real sexual couple...why the guys at DC can show a sexual explicit scene between nightwing and cory and not do the same with Diana??"

"Because DC has this [...] thing going on with Wondy where they put her on this untouchable pedestal unable to have sexual contact with anyone. Which might be smart PR; everyone freaked out when Hippolyte had sex with Wildcat...."

"As for the Wildcat thing, that was just silly. Not believable at all. The writer's fantasy, not the character's. A lot of people would have cheered a Polly/Speed Saunders romance. But Wildcat??? Hippolyta with a man's man lady killer was sexism. She needed a lover who better suited her character."

"Oddly enough, I think that Polly was well suited to Wildcat. [...] Wildcat is many things but a 'woman, kitchen now' sort of guy he's not"

"Comics never show every minute of someone's life.... [...] I've never seen Diana have sex, or talk about a sex-life, so she must be a virgin? This kind of logic is hysterical."

"...If they never showed Diana having sex, then she probably is still a virgin. No, they don't show every minute of a character's life, but something as significant as Diana losing her virginity would be (well) documented."

I don't even want to picture the Wonder Woman comic that's in that last person's head.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

So, this thought occurred to me... 

...at the shop yesterday, regarding the whole "Spider-Man unmasking" thing.

Now, those of you who remember the 1970s may recall a regular on The Gong Show called "The Unknown Comic." For those of you who don't...he was a stand-up comic whose gimmick was always performing wearing that paper bag over his head. He was something of a sensation at the time, but eventually the Unknown Comic unmasked on television, and that seemed to mark the end of that particular fifteen minutes of fame. (You can see the unmasked face, and read an interview with the comic, here.)

Now one could argue that the Unknown Comic's popularity had peaked anyway, and doffing the bag was simply one last hurrah for the fad, rather than "ruining the mystery" and affecting the Unknown Comic's popularity. But that latter interpretation is a possible tack to take with Spider-Man's unmasking. Now that he's revealed his identity, perhaps the public fascination in the Marvel Universe with Spider-Man will fade away as well, making him "old news" with the populace. Instead of "Hey, look, it's Spider-Man!" it'll be "Well, there goes that showboat Parker. Feh."

Or maybe that's what they're doing in the Spidey books right now. I haven't the foggiest.

Best book of the week:

It's Flaming Carrot's Bob Burden writing, and Rick Geary drawing. Really, what else do you need to know? It's more younger-audience oriented than the two Comico Comics Gumby books drawn by Art Adams back in the mid-80s, but it still has that weird mix of childlike innocence and outright peculiarity that Burden has mastered. My only quibble is that the book could have used an extra pass from the proofreader (especially for the text page in the back), but otherwise, good show.

Another good book out this week, and it sort of surprises me to say this, is Elephantmen #1. The occasional release of "Hip Flask" comics, involving a hippo private eye in a world of humans, have met with positive reaction from our customers, but for some reason I never paid it much attention. Can't say why, really. But this new issue serves as a good introduction to the scenario, essentially a Disney-type world of humans and talking animals, only played as a serious, noir-style drama. Yeah, I know how that sounds, but it works, oddly enough, and it's sold mostly through the detailed, expressive, and moodily-colored art. The lead story, where the title character's chance encounter with a young girl contrasts her innocent questions with his own violent and unpleasant past, is particularly affecting. It's almost Spielberg-ian in its blatant emotional manipulation of the reader, but, hell, it sucked me in anyway. I'm a big softie...don't tell anyone.

The Comics Journal #277 - It's the 30th anniversary issue, and really, you should be buying this magazine anyway, but it's worth it for the attempted phone interview between Gary Groth and the late Alex Toth. Toth starts out pissed off and gets even more so as the conversation continues. It's fantastic. (Here's the intro to the interview for some additional background.)

Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters #1 - I've noted this before, but, honestly, a creator-owned Jack Kirby comic. Published by Marvel. There's some measure of irony to that.

In other new comics day news...we got our order via UPS about a half hour before we opened (instead of the two hours we usually get), we had a ton of stuff (the usual pre-San Diego glut, plus the large number of reorders that were supposed to show up last week but didn't, plus the reorders due this week), and it was hot. Damned hot. Boo hoo, woe is me. We also got shorted half our order of the new 52, the one with the new (gasp) lesbian Batwoman that all the kids are excited about, so we ended up running out by the end of the day. Supposed to get the balance via an "emergency shipment" by the end of the week...I hope.

Thought this was an interesting quote from DC's Dan Didio in this Newsarama interview:

"...In Young Justice - I'm sorry, but when you introduce a character called 'Slobo' [audience laughs] No - honestly - Lobo is a character that's dark, dangerous, edgy, and over the top. That's why Lobo is funny, not because he's a joke. When you make a Slobo character, it's not a good character. It's ruining something stronger. It ruined Lobo, in my opinion. It's selling a character down the river for a laugh, and I never want to do that."

It seems to me that Lobo was pretty much ruined anyway, at the time, through overexposure, and needed to go away for a while. At least Peter David tried to do something different with the character in Young Justice, keeping a version of the character in the public eye without subjecting the audience to another hyper-violent "black comedy" Lobo comic...the demand for which had pretty much run its course.

For you folks what are attending the San Diego Comic Con...particularly if you're going to be at the weblogging panel: if that Kid Chris character shows up, shouts "SPECIAL DELIVERY FROM PROGRESSIVE RUIN DOT COM!" and pegs all the panelists in the face with custard pies, I swear it wasn't by my command.

I warned pal Ian about this, and told him I pictured it like a '70s suspense action thriller...shots of Ian breathlessly charging up endless flights of stairs, frantic and sweating, trying to find Kid Chris before his attack, intercut with shots of Chris in some unused storage room at the top of those stairs, slowly applying whipped cream to the pies as he prepares to strike.

These are the things I think about at work. Must have been the heat.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

That last post was a little on the crass side... 

...so let me balance it out a little:

from Hugga Bunch #2 (Dec. 1986) by Stan Kay, Anna-Maria Coleman, Jacqueline Roettcher, and Roberta Edelman

"It's only milk!" 

"And definitely not semen! Why would you even think that? What's wrong with you?"

The source of the, um, milk:

Oh dear heavens. I know it's supposed to be funny, but it makes me feel slightly queasy too.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Movies, TV, and San Diego. 

So I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest last night, keeping in mind the various reviews I'd seen of the film. In particular, the complaints of "it's too slow" and "the middle part drags" and so on. And, as I was watching and enjoying the film, in the back of my mind I kept thinking "Okay, when does the draggy part start?"

And before I knew it, the movie was over. Two and a half hours just zipped by like nothing.

I didn't experience anything in the film that felt unnecessarily slow or draggy. I thought it was a fun, well-paced, and visually-interesting movie that kept my interest for the duration.

My primary problem was trying to decipher the occasional bit of dialogue, but that may be more due to my aging eardrums (or lousy theatre sound systems) than any fault of the film.

While on the topic of films, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that in this film, the pretty girl will turn out to be the horrible menace, the monstrous creatures will be the good guys, and we'll all learn an important lesson about judging by appearances.

I could very well be wrong, but I've got my cynical-pants on today and I had to get that thought out of my system. Thank you for indulging my whims.

Found via TV Tattle is this report announcing Green Arrow as the next DC Universe character to pop up on Smallville. Why, pal Dorian and I thought that Green Arrow would be a natural fit several months ago. Though, and I'm assuming this from the scant available info, that neither of us were correct about the exact nature of his involvement in the proceedings.

I still would like to see the Legion of Super-heroes on the show. What? Don't look at me like that.

NOT GOING TO THE SAN DIEGO CON...but if I were going, Tom Spurgeon has assembled everything you need to know.

Reaffirming my geek street cred. 

Something I have that you (probably) don't...a photo of "Morn" from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, autographed by the actor that portrayed him:

"To Mike - See you at Quark's! Mark Allen Shepherd"

Monday, July 17, 2006

"Comic Shops are a dieing bread" 

"What do you GUYS think...?"

"I'm sick of being the only chic on the comic Book Forums... so, why do you guys think girls aren't into comics. There is no excuse why I should be the only one on KMC. I need a reason!"

"Who knows? Maybe because people think of comics as being silly and for children Then I just give them a copy of Watchmen and watch their jaws drop"

"Is it me or are qirls becominq frequently more attracted to nerd, qeek, non jock/frat type quy. I have noticed this to be popular occurence here at university. Is this just an isolated incidentl or unique to hiqher education, or is this a qlobal fad on the rise. I wanna hear from our females on this one."

"90 % of the chicks in my school are too dumb to even think of reading a comic. Either that or they are to drunk"

"I'm just not sure a lot of books are written with the interests of girls in mind. This doesnt mean that they can't enjoy them, it just means that the Marvel's and DC's of the world know where their cake comes from. There are just some elements of the conflict, the body images and small things like that which have been specifically designed to attract males for profit."

"Oh, oh, i have met an butt load of chicks who like comics at my local comic shop."

"More people would read comics if comic shops werent so.... A.) Dirty B.) Nerdy: Seriously some of the shops I go to even creep me out with the geekiness C.) Hard to find: Seriously Comic Shops are a dieing bread"

"The Incredible Hulk works Kate Moss...." 

All images and quotes from Mouth2Mouth (September/October 1994) - Claudia Schiffer & Wolverine featured on the cover

"Show and T'elle: Elle Macpherson stands tall with X-Men Beast, Cyclops, Magneto and Gambit in the Danger Room at Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters."

"Never Let Him See You Sweat: The Incredible Hulk works Kate Moss as The Thing prepares to curl."

"Arms and Dangerous: Bridget Hall out on the town with Iron Man."

"Burnin' Rubber: Naomi Campbell pops Ghost Rider's clutch."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Brief thoughts, my first appearance, and a link to a thing you've already seen. 

So on Saturday, I was discussing with pal Dorian the fact that customers were asking me if the Tad Williams that wrote DC Comics' The Next was the same as fantasy novelist Tad Williams. Well, yes, it is, but the very least DC could have done is slap "FROM THE BEST-SELLING FANTASY NOVELIST" across the cover.

As Dorian noted, most comic fans know that Marvel has a Stephen King comic book coming out (eventually), and Stephen King isn't even writing it. That I have customers unsure if the Tad Williams in question is in fact the Tad Williams...well, that tells me that somewhere along the line, word didn't sufficiently get out to comic fans. Maybe there were house ads and such...I don't tend to pay a lot of attention to those, so I could have missed them. And were there any ads in places where it might grab the attention of new readers, like in fantasy or sci-fi mags? "Hey, like Tad Williams' novels? Well, he's writing a comic book...."

Also, and I've missed this since I've been staying away from comic book message boards lately (just for the sake of my own soul), Dor tells me that he saw someone apparently complaining that The Next is a ripoff of Marvel's Nextwave, because 1) both are humorous, and 2) both have "next" in the title.

You have got to be kidding me.

H at the Comic Treadmill reveals my first appearance in comics. He certainly makes a compelling argument.

On a related note, I find it so strange that I know have some sort of minor internet "renown" for being a Swamp Thing fan. Well, not "strange" as in "hmmm...how odd that people think I like Swamp Thing" -- I know I may have brought up Swamp Thing once or twice on this site in the past. It's just weird seeing my fondness for the character being discussed by folks all over the world.

Don't get me wrong...I think it's neat. It just surprises me to find other people talking about me and the things that I like (or dislike), especially considering that when I started this site, I figured it would be just me, Dorian, my dad, and a half-dozen other friends checking it out.

So anyway, thanks to all you folks for reading, and feel free to keep talking about me. I am my own favorite subject, after all.

I'm sure the vast majority of you have seen it already, but I finally got around to watching The Amazing Screw-on Head pilot, based on Mike Mignola's one-shot comic from a couple years back.

It's amusing (not "hilarious," as the Sci-Fi Channel description would have it, but weirdly offbeat), the animation is very close to Mignola's style, and the voice work (particularly from David Hyde Pierce) is well-done. Not sure I need to see a regular series based on this, but the occasional one-off would be welcome.

This is an archive page for the old Blogger version of Progressive Ruin, kept around to maintain all the old permalinks. Please visit the main page for the current version of this site. Thanks for visiting, and sorry for the inconvenience!

Copyright © 2003-10 Mike Sterling. Some images used are copyright © their respective copyright owners.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?