mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, February 17, 2007

"...And that's Fine-El!" 

from Superboy #128 (April 1966)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Still a tad under the weather. 

For those of you keeping up with STERLNG HEALTHWATCH 2007, I'm feeling marginally better at the moment...at least now I'm able to sit upright, and I no longer have a blinding headache, so I think I'm through the worst of it.

Close personal friend Kevin Church has also been sick, and it looks like he did the same thing Wednesday night that I did...inflicted the Spawn movie on himself, as it was airing on some basic cable channel or another. Boy, that's not a very good movie. I wonder if Martin Sheen thought "What did I get myself into?" after seeing John Leguizamo in the Clown makeup for the first time.

Anyway, a couple notes about the new comics from this week:

Nexus Archives Vol. 5 - I already have all the Nexii, so I only poked through this new book out of curiosity about its reproduction value...and, as it turned out, though most of the book presents the material very clearly and cleanly, there's one story (a Clonezone backup) which looks like it was shot from the original comic's printed pages. It's very blurry and washed out to the point of distraction, which is too bad. Some other pages appear to be shot from printed comics as well, but they're not nearly as bad as that Clonezone story. But still, this is fun stuff, though I wish these reprints could be made available for a little less than 50 bucks a volume (which may not be economically feasible, I realize).

Batman #663 - Ah, the "illustrated prose" issue, which I'm imagining is probably being ravaged by fans online because it's "not comics" (which I haven't checked on, since I've been sick an' all). I can see why they went with the text-heavy telling of this story...the explicit detailing of the Joker's self-reinvention comes across as a lot more sick and creepy in prose. There's a lot of internal stuff going on in this story, so even had this been told in the traditional comic format, we would have ended up with a lot more captions and it probably wouldn't have been nearly as effective. Normally, I'm not a big fan of the "who got the prose in my funnybooks" storytelling technique either, but when it's done well, like in this comic, it's hard to complain. And for those of you keeping track: references to The Killing Joke abound in this issue.

Nextwave #12 - To talk about why I loved this issue so much would give away the surprise, so just trust me on this: it's great. And, of course, it's cancelled. Bastards.

Little Lulu #14 - I can't believe we're up to 14 volumes of this already. This volume includes the story "Red Faces," where the punchline of the story is completely lost in black and white (and why it was printed in the Little Lulu color volume a few months back). However, Little Lulu remains one of the peaks of the comics form, and the occasional storytelling glitch caused by its b&w reproduction is easily forgiven in the face of getting these stories back out into circulation.

Right on, Tubby.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Today's post called on account of illness... 

...so here's Wonder Woman stopping the bad guys with her golden lasso and her...um, aerodynamically-questionable tiara-boomerang:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Another 100 Things I Love About Comics. 

It's that time of year again, when love is all around, delighting most of us and sickening the rest...which means it's also time for another 100 things I love about comics! (Previous installments: 1 & 2)

1. Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves

2. All-New Atom by Gail Simone and assorted parties

3. Archie as Pureheart the Powerful

4. Bat Lash

5. Cary "Mr. Surprise" Bates

6. Batman and Robin travelling through time via hypnosis, courtesy Professor Nichols

7. Batman-related videos on YouTube

8. Bat-Mite

9. Steve Bissette

10. Bizarro #1

11. The Boys by Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson

12. The results of Brandon's occasional Photoshop challenges

13. Brainiac, particularly when he was accompanied by Koko, his pet space-monkey

14. Charles Burns

15. The Calculator -- not the new, modern "master crime planner" version, but the guy with a freaking keypad on his chest who could make items just materialize out of his helmet

16. Bully's Colorforms post

17. Comic book ads that don't even try to disguise the fact that they're scams

18. The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy

19. Dalgoda by Jan Strnad & Dennis Fujitake

20. Daredevil Battles Hitler

21. The Death of Captain Marvel

22. Decoder cards for secret messages in modern comics

23. Destroy! by Scott McCloud

24. Dial H for Hero

25. Diesel Sweeties by R. Stevens

26. Dr. Watchstop by Ken Macklin

27. Ego, the Living Planet

28. Fables by Bill Willingham & others

29. Fanguish

30. Fantastic Four Vs. The X-Men by Chris Claremont & Jon Bogdanove

31. The Fatal Five

32. The Fighting Fetus

33. Firestorm, The Nuclear Man

34. Flippity and Flop

35. The fact that issue #666 of Four Color Comics is "Santa Claus Funnies"

36. Foxtrot by Bill Amend


38. Glow-in-the-dark covers (the one cover enhancement I really happen to enjoy)

39. Gumby comics (old and new)

40. Halo Jones by Alan Moore & Ian Gibson

41. Hero Squared

42. Hoppy the Marvel Bunny

43. Incredibly inappropriate horror-themed covers for '70s superhero comics

44. The Incal by Moebius

45. This Joker GIF I made. It's practically hypnotic.

46. Journalista

47. Justice League of America #123 (1975), in which comic writers Elliot S! Maggin and Cary Bates travel from Earth-Prime into the DC superhero multiverse...Bates becomes a villain, Maggin must warn the heroes...it's a real "what the heck" kind of comic.

48. The bottle city of Kandor

49. Chris Karath's frequent comic book action figure photo galleries

50. The Kryptonian Thought-Beast

51. Lloyd Llewellyn

52. The Lobo Convention Special

53. Marshal Law by Pat Mills & Kevin O'Neill

54. Marvel Adventures: The Avengers

55. Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars -- yeah, so? Wanna make somethin' of it?

56. Art Suydam's Marvel Zombies covers

57. Shawn McManus


59. "Mr. and Mrs. Superman"

60. Mr. Mind, the World's Wickedest Worm

61. Neil the Horse by Arn Saba

62. Nextwave by Warren Ellis & Stuart Immonen

63. Odd Bodkins by Dan O'Neill

64. Novelizations of comic book events...I know these aren't good for me, but I can't help myself

65. Omniverse, edited by Mark Gruenwald

66. The One by Rick Veitch

67. Palookaville by Seth

68. "Planet Hulk"

69. Popeye by E.C. Segar

70. Puma Blues by Steve Murphy and Michael Zulli

71. The Queen of the Runners

72. The Rack by Benjamin Birdie & Kevin Church

73. Reagan's Raiders

74. Red Kryptonite

75. Runaway Comic by Mark Martin

76. John Severin

77. Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith

78. Sinestro

79. The all-too infrequent times on Smallville when it actually kinda/sorta feels like a superhero comic (Clark is particularly superhero-y, Lex is in full-on villain mode, etc.)

80. Spidey Super Stories

81. The Spirit by Darwyn Cooke

82. Stickboy by Dennis Worden

83. The Super Powers comics drawn by Jack Kirby

84. Whenever one of the Superman supporting characters gained super powers

85. The second, and far superior, Superman/Spider-Man crossover

86. The Supermobile

87. Appearances of swamp creatures from other comic book companies in Swamp Thing

88. Stealth appearances of Swamp Thing in the regular DC Universe (in All-New Atom and in Infinite Crisis, among others)

89. Thor's Jukebox

90. The 3 Geeks by Rich Koslowski

91. Tomb of Dracula by Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan

92. Tor Love Betty

93. Treasury edition comics

94. Tug & Buster by Marc Hempel

95. Len Wein

96. Weird War Tales

97. White Boy Goes to Hell

98. J.R. Williams

99. Xenozoic Tales by Mark Schultz

100. ...And, of course, all of my readers and fellow comicsweblogospherians. Thanks for reading!

100 1/2. Swamp Thing slippers

Bill at Trusty Plinko Stick has got the love, too, so go check out his list! (I see he also took the brave stand of loving Secret Wars....)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This is Glory #0... 

...the special Dynamic Forces "limited edition," complete with Certificate of Authenticity and (this may not be apparent in the scan) a variant shiny "chrome" cover.

But it's not just chrome, however:



Well, honestly, what else could you call it ("he said, setting up all you wiseacres")?

"...Get professional help if you enjoy it yourself." 

In the wake of the announcement of a director for the film adaptation of Frank Miller's Ronin, I thought I'd pop over to Amazon.com to check out some reader reviews for this graphic novel. Alas, I only found one really good one:

"dangerous to kids, May 14, 2001
Reviewer: A reader
Miller's works might not be deliberately designed to inspire boys to go on a vigilante killing spree, but since they have no other themes than making such things look cool to teenagers one wonders what else they could be for. In Ronin, his worst offense, he somehow manages to mix his usual themes with ethnic tokenism and other absurd forms of political correctness. Don't show this stuff to your children, and get professional help if you enjoy it yourself."

If I'm remembering correctly, it got some mixed reviews in the fan press at the time. I don't have the quote right in front of me, but I believe it was Gary Groth who said that Ronin was better than 90% of the comics on the market...but it was still crap. I thought it was pretty good, myself, which means I'd getter get some of that professional help that Amazon reviewer recommended. (Though some of you probably already think that I should get help, given my continuing defense of Miller's All-Star Batman. You all may laugh at me now...but you'll be sorry someday! You'll see!)

Anyway, in other news:

Former Swamp Thing artist Steve Bissette is featured in a DVD extra for the film Head Trauma (reviewed here)...he and his son provided artwork for a Jack Chick-style religious tract used in the film. Also, Bissette has announced (in the middle of this lengthy post) that he has some new comic book work coming out this year.

GlyphJockey has Sparkler #91 up for your enjoyment, as well as a selection of random panels from that issue (some repurposed into computer wallpaper) for your delight and edification.

Booksteve has some Bob Oksner ladies on display, along with a period article about the artist.

I realize there's no shortage of 'em, but Tim O'Neil finds yet another stupid thing about that Civil War series.

Speaking of Civil War, Spencer is having a "Make Your Own 'Get Your Civil War On'" contest...so warm up your "cracking wise" muscles and get started.

Missed it, but thanks to P-Tor I've seen the glory: what if Billy Batson's magic words were "ALAN MOORE!" It'd be fantastic, that's what.

And, for no good reason, here are Solomon Grundy and off-model, one-armed Swamp Thing fighting Superman:

from DC Comics Presents #8 (April 1979) by Steve Englehart & Murphy Anderson

Monday, February 12, 2007

Just another miscellaneous Monday. 

Speaking with a longtime customer of ours yesterday, one who is an avid collector of original comic book art and also a big Stephen King fan, I discovered that he purchased some pieces from Dark Tower: The Gunslinger #1. He owns the two-page spread featuring young Roland and his friends, and he owns the piece used for the 1:75 variant cover (and presumably used for the interior page showing the same scene). WOW. No, I didn't ask him how much they cost...but I imagine they didn't go cheap.

That reminded me of another customer who, in the '60s, sent a letter of comment to Green Lantern, and, because he was either chosen randomly or he had the best letter that month (I forget), he was given the complete original art for one chapter (five or six pages or so) of a then-recent Flash/Green Lantern team-up. Ah, the days when they just gave this stuff away. This was classic Gil Kane stuff, too..."good letter, kid, here you go."

When I last spoke to him about it, he said he had people still tracking him down through that long-ago letter (as he still lived in the same general area), offering to buy that art from him. And yes, the pieces remain in his possession.

I don't own a lot of original art myself...as a result of doing this site, a couple cartoonists I've long admired have given me pieces of art, which was incredibly nice of them: Fred Hembeck gave me the drawing you can see here, and Scott Saavedra gave me this piece, which is no longer on his site, so I'll just have put it right here:

I also have a page from some anonymous '80s Archie comic that had been given to me, featuring nice shots of Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Reggie, Ethyl, and Ms. Grundy, as well as a pencil drawing of Captain Jack I bought from Mike Kazaleh. And I guess there's those drawings of Groo 'n' company in those issues of Groo the Wanderer that Sergio Aragones would include with his signature. And somewhere around here I have a small Hellboy sketch on a signature card that a friend got for me at the San Diego Con.

But that's pretty much it. I'd entertained the idea of trying to buy a Curt Swan Superman page...you know, one of the approximately one kazillion he drew during the '80s, not any classic Silver Age stuff or any of the work he did with Murphy Anderson during the '70s. But even that stuff, common as you'd think it was, is getting up there (though this page didn't go for too much, considering it features Supes, Lois and Jimmy).

The holy grail for me, though, is getting one of Curt Swan's pages from this issue of Swamp Thing. Curt Swan drawing Swamp Thing...it's as if God came down to Earth and published a comic book. Plus, it features Mark Millar's greatest, nuttiest script for the series, even though, as he says here, "I have a horrible feeling that it killed Curt Swan."

In other news:

Well, okay, this isn't news, but pal Dorian and I had this conversation at the store Saturday, while I was processing some comic supplies:

Me: "Hey, Dor, what was the color code we were using for regular-sized backing boards?"


Er, yeah, I guess there's that. (But damned if he didn't eventually rattle off all the color codes we use for the supplies, which I can't remember for the life of me.)

Okay, here's some actual news ("actual" and "news" used loosely):

Carl Barks smack-down given to Australian treasurer.

Zack Snyder reveals precious few details about the forthcoming Watchmen movie.

"Comic books are often associated with spotty little boys curled up in their bedrooms wishing they had a girlfriend" is how this story begins, detailing an exhibit of Spanish comics.

And now...a motivational speech from unshaven Batman:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday misc. 

A couple goodies I'm stealing from Chris Karath:

First, Shazam! Family action figures, including Hoppy the Marvel Bunny.

Second, there's ANIME POWER GIRL:

Um, I don't know what to say. There are Supergirl, Batgirl, and Catwoman anime-style figures pictured at the link as well.

Anyway, go check out Chris's post for more toy links.

Speaking of Shazam!, I read the Shazam! Monster Society of Evil #1 by Jeff Smith, and was surprised to see a return to the old "relationship" between Captain Marvel and his alter ego, Billy Batson. Specifically, treating them as two distinct entities, who refer to each other as different people, and not the "Captain Marvel is Billy in an adult's body" thing that had been the more popular method of dealing with the character(s) over the last couple of decades. True, Smith takes it a little further, by establishing the Captain as a preexisting being that's using Billy as a host, but I enjoyed this take and look forward to the rest of the series.

I also like the online Shazam! decoder, for use with the "secret messages" in the issue. And you can create your own coded messages, like this one: PVERM XSFIXS RH Z DRVMVI

This just in, typos and all: Eva Mendez is NOT She-Hulk:

"Nicolas Cage jokingly stated that he wants to see Eva Mendez Play She Hulk. That has suddently turned into SHE IS playing She Hulk.

Nicolas Cage made it very clear to us that their is no She Hulk Project. After he made the humorous comments, he was asked specifically what the status of a She-Hulk project is and his response, quote:

'No, no it’s just something I came up with.'"

You people know you'd totally go see a She-Hulk movie. You can't lie to me.

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