mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I don't remember what I did with the rest of the comics in the collection. 

Comico Comics promo poster (1986) - art by Ken Steacy

This came packaged with the Comico Collection, a black slipcase with silver foil imprinting, which included a copy of Grendel: Devil's Vagary, a new Hunter Rose story by Matt Wagner which everyone wanted, along with several overstock Comico comics, which no one wanted.

Here's a look at the foil design:

In my copy of the slipcase, I store the aforementioned Devil's Vagary and the first twelve issues of this Grendel series. Hey, it looks pretty neat on the shelf...what can I say?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday, Mr. Spoiler-pants, what passes for reviews, Jerry Bails, books, Kirby, and Tim. 

Our new comics day was pretty busy, thanks to everyone trying to get in before the Thanksgiving holiday...however, the dreaded "Black Friday" will probably not be too big of a deal for us. My experience is that the big "Black Friday" sales that you've been hearing about on the news are more for malls and "big box" stores like Walmart and Best Buy. Small businesses, at least in our area, don't get that bump in business until later in the shopping season, after customers are tired of dealing with crowded malls and work their way outward into the outlying areas, desperately seeking out present ideas.

So, no, I'm not expecting this Friday to be any busier than normal. (And yes, in the past we've tried to attract business with special post-Thanksgiving sales and special deals, but no dice.) Ah, well, that's okay...I've got store stuff to catch up on from not being open on Thursday.

Anyway, from New Comics Day this week...there's this one customer, and I swear to God this happens every week, who picks up his weekly books, flips through them on his way to the register, and makes sure to point out to me (for example) "Hey, did you see that [shocking revelation from the end of the story] happened in this issue?" This is sometimes accompanied by his waving the page in question in front of my face. And I always respond to him in the same way: "No, I haven't read that issue yet." And he did it to me again this week. I need to start hiding in the back room when he comes in.

As for a couple of the comics themselves:

Planetary Brigade Origins #1 - as the title implies, it's the "origin" of the Planetary Brigade superteam, told in the typical light and witty style of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, accompanied this time by artist Julia Bax. Like its parent title, Hero Squared, this comic cleverly and gently skewers (with love, not contempt) the cliches typical of the superhero genre, while not letting the satire overwhelm the actual superhero adventure. It's a tough balancing act, but one Giffen and DeMatteis have mastered and is always a pleasure to read.

Enigma Cipher #1 - fast-moving action/suspense, as students from a college class studying a WWII-era Enigma coded message suddenly start turning up dead, and one last student struggles to stay one step ahead of her pursuers. It's a plot-type that should be familiar to anyone who's ever seen an action movie (the "we must get the disk" plot, I like to call it, after some computer espionage flick I saw years ago), but Andrew Cosby, Michael Alan Nelson, and Greg Scott do a good job keeping up interest in the story and maintaining reader sympathy for the student-on-the-run.

JSA Classified #19 - takes the classic "organ-harvesting" urban myth, and applies it to superheroes. Again, we've seen the "stolen body parts of superheroes" thing before, but not quite to this extent, and not with that urban myth aspect, which, I think, is quite clever. And on top of that, they managed to find some use for a couple of those "Bloodlines" characters that have been floating around for a while. I should note that I read the heavily-medical aspects of this story wondering what our resident medical comics weblogger Polite Scott would have to say about some of the details of this story. In fact, I now think that when I read any comic stories involving medical issues. See what the comicsweblogosphere has done to me?

In other news:
  • Mark Evanier has the sad news that comics historian Jerry Bails has died. In fact, just calling him a "comics historian" doesn't do him justice...that we have any history of the medium is thanks primarily to the inspiration of Mr. Bails' early fandom efforts. Please read Mr. Evanier's post for more details on this man...and like he says, we're sure to see an issue or three of Roy Thomas' Alter Ego magazine devoted to Bails' life. (A friend of mine was in contact with Mr. Bails a couple years back, and at the time I had spent a lot of money obtaining one of Bails' old fanzines...when my friend related the amount I spent on these three mimeographed pages to Mr. Bails, he was...well, either amused or bemused, one of the two!)

  • Augie De Blieck, in his column this week, wonders why there aren't more books on comics culture from fandom folks...and points out my site, along with the great and powerful Dave's Long Box, as prime contenders for translation from web-to-paper. Thanks, Augie! And, hey, any publishers out there...I'm game if you are! (I sort of touched on this a while back, as I lamented the ephemeral nature of my site. Someday, once I load up on the necessary amount ink, I'm going to print out a copy of my site, just so there's at least one physical copy of it in existence!)

  • Apparently there's a Kirby "meme" going around (which started here) in which you pick which character had the best Kirby design. Jon tagged me, and, alas, I must duplicate the answer of the person who tagged Jon - the ever-lovin', blue-eyed Thing is my favorite Kirby design. Monstrous yet sympathetic, terrible but lovable, tragic and funny...Kirby never topped this design for sheer versatility. For more of my thoughts on the character, I refer you to what I wrote for Comic Book Galaxy a while back.

  • Tim O'Neil does what I wanted to do with one of the pictures from yesterday's End of Civilization post, but didn't have time. Well done, sir, well done.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Let's all be thankful for...the End of Civilization. 

So, happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans, happy Thursday to everyone else, and let's dig right into a tasty plateful of fine products as seen in the new Diamond Previews catalog (Dec. 2006). (If you want to see previous installments of "The End of Civilization," I finally put the links in the sidebar, instead of dumping them in this post.)

p. 52 - Hot Stuff merchandise:

Hot Stuff, once a popular Harvey Comics character, now primarily exists only as tchotchkes and gewgaws. I wonder how many years away we are from, say, Spider-Man and Batman existing only as merchandise, their comic book origins long forgotten? (They're pretty close to it as it is, frankly.)

p. 71 - All-New Atom #8:

No pic, because I want you to go to pal Dorian's post on the matter (about halfway down the page). Basically, unless there's some minor editing or careful placement of cover blurbs, we're getting a penis (or, at least, a cross-section of same) on a DC comic cover.

p. 124-125 - DC Minimates:

Green Arrow makes out okay:

Power Girl...mmmm, not so much:

And Blue Beetle's little plastic bubble eyes disturb me:

p. 127 - Women of the DC Universe Big Barda Bust:

The mature adult Mikester thought about passing on yet another obvious joke, but the 12-year-old Mikester can't help but snicker at "'Big Barda Bust,' tee hee." So there it is, for the rest of you 12-year-olds out there.

p. 272 - Superman "Lucky 21" Starter Set:

"This collection contains a random selection of signed and unsigned comic books, plus two (2) randomly chosen signed DC Comics! For the full-time collector - or for anyone who wants to dive right in and immerse themselves in the world of comic books - this collection is for you!"

"Here are a bunch of overstock comics we got stuck with, and the only way we can get rid of them is by blowing them out in 'mystery packs,' because if you knew what you were actually getting, there's no way you'd drop twenty bones on it."

p. 398 - Punisher "Eroded Pride" T-Shirt:

"Eroded Pride?"

p. 410 - Gwar Action Figures:

If these figures don't spit out blood and, um, other bodily fluids, as Gwar themselves have been known to do during their calm and demure live shows, then I'm going to be terribly disappointed.

p. 410 - H.P. Lovecraft's Series 1 Previews Exclusive Black Cthulhu Action Figures:

"Who's the black Great Old One
That's a death machine to all the chicks?
(Black Cthulhu!)
You're damned right...."

p. 422 - Tonner Harry Potter Collector Dolls:

"...All dolls have hand-painted face details (including Harry's scar) and wear a white shirt and tie underneath a custom knit sweater with flannel pants, all under the school robe with school crest decal. They also each come with a wand, socks, shoes, and custom stand."

For some reason, Harry Potter dolls with (presumably) removable clothes make me nervous.

p. 436 - Star Trek The Original Series - "City on the Edge of Forever" 40th Anniversary Statue:

And now, the Greatest Star Trek Statue Ever:

If that photo of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy is removable, this could double as a Guardian of Forever photo frame. For extra nerdy Trek fun, replace that photo with one of Harlan Ellison.

p. 439 - Witchblade Anime "Masane Amaha" PVC Statue:

"Masane Amaha is the lead character (and blade-wielder) of Witchblade, an anime series based on the famous American comics series. Instead of a straight adaptation of the original series, the Japanese producers decided to create an entirely new scenario, with all new characters and situations."

Hmmm...I can't say that it's entirely new:

Seems like it has pretty much the same raison d'etre to me.

p. 458 - Betty Boop T-Shirt w/Bobble Head Set:

Looks like they finally found a way to move all those shelf-warming bobble heads...in case you can't read the package, it's the shirt that's being sold, with the bobble head as a "free" bonus. (There's a Family Guy set like this later in the catalogue.)

p. 462 - Marvel Heroes & Villains Jumbo Plushes:

I was going to make a comment about the cute, plushy mass-murdering Venom doll, but then I read the solicitation info:

"If you like to do things big, then that includes your assemble [sic] of friends. You don't let in just anybody to your private party. He or she that enters the room has a VIP pass. Only the big boys and girls are allowed through the gate, and that includes these big Marvel heroes!"

That's a rich fantasy life going on there.

p. 466 - 300 Prop Replicas:

Pictured: the Spartan Helmet. Also pictured: one happy guy modeling the helmet.

p. 472 - Almighty Heroes Pre-school Action Figures:

"This first assortment of Almighty Heroes pre-school action figures features a quartet of the Bible's greatest heroes - David, Moses, Noah and Samson - all redesigned to look like modern action heroes!"

You know, I don't think I really pictured Noah looking like that. Moses, yes, but not Noah.

Marvel Previews, p. 21 (among others) - Black Panther #25:

Okay, I can understand not wanting to spoil secret details for forthcoming storylines, and I suppose with the info we're given (creative teams, the cover) and the info we already have (our cycle sheets with past sales performance), we can still plan our orders accordingly. But, still, this is just a tad annoying.

Marvel Previews, p. 36 - Immortal Iron Fist #1 Director's Cut:

Hey, nice of Marvel to announce this item ahead of the release of the regular edition of Immortal Iron Fist. Now all you folks know you can pass on the regular edition when it comes out, and save your money for the Director's Cut with the extra material. Thanks, Marvel!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

When you're feeling lazy...it's time for another visit to the DC Forums. 

"Giving Batman a superpower"

"Okay, here's the drill: DC comes to you and says, 'We're giving Batman ONE superpower. No whining, it's a done deal. He's going to be a meta-human from now on. But it's up to YOU to decide which power he gets. Choose.' Which power should he have?"

"The power to read minds so he knows which criminals are guilty."

"...Batman's intelligence already is practically a superpower. He's much smarter than is possible for any non-fictional real world person. His other superpower is his endless supply of money. Batman has already spent more money on his war on crime than Bill Gates will ever have over the course of his entire life."

"He wouldn't age. Not immortal -- he could still be killed by gunshots, etc., but he wouldn't age. Same thing Wonder Woman has going on."

"I'd say f*ck you and your stupid ideas Didio. I’m gone."

"Immortality. That way we can put an end to using BATMAN as an example of why the "Legacy" heroes don't work."

This one is my favorite:

"I have toyed with a story line where Prof. Strange transplants a metagene in Batman. When the gene activates, Bruce generates a glowing field of white light. It isn't bright enough to really be useful, and it would be intanglable, offering no protection. It would set just above any covering, so he could never cover it up. Imagine the problems it would give him. He wouldn't be able to be Batman or Bruce. This would put him on a quest for a 'cure' that would take him to Lex Luthor, STAR LABS, Dr. Midnite, etc. Eventually, he would be cured, but it would make for a fun story arc."

"ATTN: any bloggers who have ongoing fights with eachother"

He means "message boarders" when he says "bloggers," but you'll get the idea:

"i havent been on these boards in a while, and while i love discussing comics and reading other fans opinions, all id found all night was people arguing with eachother all over these boards. under any topic about absolutely anything. basically i was already getting sick and tired of reading comments from guys who cant get laid for $h!t and are so ridiculed in their daily lives by there peers they vent frustrations at eachother from the safety of their own homes behind alias's and their computer screens.
whether you like wally, barry, jay or bart, we all love comic books. they are fantacy stories.... who the hell cares about numbers and sales. you are all so boring. if you dont like a title, fine! if youd like, discuss, but do so in a civilized manner. clearly you all have tough times socializing that you spend so much energy attacking eachother here. some people just like to be miserable. clearly most of you do too, otherwise youd be blogging under forums for titles you DO enjoy.
its very sad that some people here are so chronically miserable that they have found a way to complain about a HOBBY! reading comic books isnt a job aand it isnt a responsibility. it is out collective hobby that we choose to spend our hard earned money on. if you all hate it so much, perhaps you should collect baseball cards or something instead.
please dont respond to this with arguments back to me explaining why im wrong and you, in your pimply faced virgin glory, are right. in case your retarded, im clearly not interested in reading your responses. if anyone agrees, feel free to holla back and we can discuss are love for comics in our own blogs elsewhere on these boards."

"Batgirl is dumb"

"Batgirl is dumb"

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hey, Cully -- there's a link for you at the end. 

Site update: I finally got around to thumbnailing images from a number of the last week's posts (except for yesterday's...I'll give it another day or two). Hopefully you folks on the dial-up will now be able to load my page without having to start a new hobby or finish reading Spenser's The Faerie Queene while waiting for the images to come up.

But, really, if it's available in your area, get yourself some of that broadband connectivity. It's not that much more expensive, and you'll be able to download porn surf the web a heck of a lot faster.

In other news:

  • I was planning on a post examining sales drop-offs on DC's post-Infinite Crisis spin-off series, as I sort of had the feeling the series were experiencing some serious attrition. But, as I crunched the numbers, it looks like the drops were actually within expectations, generally 20-25% from the first to second issues across the board. The biggest dip I noticed was on 52, but again, not surprising, as that series is more of a commitment and thus easier for folks to decide to drop. 52 dropped by about 20% right away, and now has settled at a consistent 60% of the sales of that first issue.

    On the same topic...our Irredeemable Ant Man sales dropped by 2/3rds between the first and second issues. Ouch.

  • For no real good reason: an Internet Movie Database entry for an episode of Family Feud, featuring the cast of the '60s Batman TV show versus the cast of Lost in Space. The actual entry has few details, but a commenting user relates his memories of the episode.

  • New comics weblog with a great name: Comics Make No Sense. No, they certainly don't. Just what the heck is Dr. Fate doing, anyway?

  • Now I know this has been all over the comicsweblogosphere recently, and you all have seen it, but for some reason I received several e-mails over the last day or so sending me this link. So, once again, I'm posting this link solely for my pal Cully, as I'm the only comics weblog he reads. Hey, Cully: Jack Chick/Fantastic Four mash-up!

Monday, November 20, 2006

All roads lead to.... 

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday misc. 

  • So the other day, as we're processing that large collection of '70s comics I'd mentioned previously, employee Aaron pointed to a cover of Pebbles and Bam-Bam (based on this cartoon) and asked....

    Aaron: "Hey, Mike, who's this character?"

    Me: "Oh, that's Schleprock."

    Aaron. "Schleprock, huh? Okay, thanks."


    Okay, that's not a terribly obscure bit of trivia of anything. But it just reminded me that one of the side effects of selling funnybooks for a living is that memories of childhood ephemera don't fade into vague impressions and mental background noise. They remain fresh and clear and almost certainly occupying that part of the brain that could be of more use, say, keeping track of your home mortgage's impound account. Ah, well, the price one pays.....

  • Speaking of childhood memories, I wish I could wipe my mind of this:

    This is from 1968, though Archie cartoons were created and rerun through the '70s, and they were all just as annoying. I dare you to listen to Jughead's voice (at the 40 second mark) and not want to put a fist through your monitor.

    And whoever had the soul-withering idea to add laugh tracks to cartoons...gaaaah, it's too much to bear.

  • I saw someone point out that there's a splash page in the latest issue of Civil War where one character is holding another character, beaten and battered, in his arms, while standing in a doorway. The drawing has the notation "after Keown" -- i.e. Dale Keown, who drew a similar image during his run on Incredible Hulk.

    So there's only one way that particular scene could have been drawn? I mean, all you needed to do is, say, shift the camera angle a tad, and viola, "homage" no longer required. Just seemed a bit odd to me, is all.

  • Okay, that said...I kinda like the idea of that character returning to the Marvel Universe and interacting with superheroes. Well, I like it in theory, anyway, in some odd, nostalgic way, and not in a "oh, boy, I can't wait to buy another series starring that character" way.

  • It's no secret which character I'm talking about, is it? No, not "U.S. War Machine."

  • Dear customer: even if I did know the phone number of a particular Big Name Funnybook Artist, I'm not going to give it to you so you can call him at, most likely, 3 in the morning and pitch your "great" ideas.

  • One of the things I miss about having pal Dorian working at the store is the ability to immediately show him crazy comics the second I come across them in any collections I'm processing. Now I have to wait for him to turn up at the shop to get his comics, and I have to remember which comics I wanted to show him that I'd seen earlier in the week, and...heck, sometimes it's just easier to scan everything and let him see 'em on my site.

  • For your information, the soundtrack CD for the new Tenacious D movie isn't work-safe. Just sayin'.*

  • As pal Dorian and I were talking the other day about, well, comics...I know, big surprise...I realized that we no longer have people asking about the extremely late and I'm not convinced will ever actually finish Ultimate Hulk Vs. Wolverine mini-series. The fans have given up hope, their spirits broken, shattered, faded mockeries of their former selves, wandering the comic shop aisles with a vague unease over that one series, from so long ago, the name of which they can no longer remember, which remains uncompleted to this very day.

    Or they just shrugged their shoulders, said "eh, typical," and soldiered on to the next late, hot series.

  • Can't resist these image-"memes," even when I should. My contribution to Beaucoupkevin's:

    EDIT: More Validus pics here.

* Yes, I knew that before I even put the CD in the player. No, I didn't play it while customers** were in the store.

** Dorian doesn't count.

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