mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Archie's shirt is FREAKING ME OUT, MAN. 

from Everything's Archie #51 (September 1976)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Elfquest, fun with Google, Countdown, the robot uprising continues, and the least necessary web app ever. 

Reason #1,831 to never, ever let the customers talk to Mike:

Customer: "Oh, hey, Elfquest! I haven't read this in years! What was the name of that one elf...his name was two words put together...."

Me: "'Wolfrider?'"

"No, that wasn't it."


"No, not 'Elfguy.'"

"How 'bout 'Shortpants?'"

"No, I'm pretty sure that's not it."



...And once again, before you panic, this was a good customer who knew I was just goofing around, so I wasn't just messing with some complete stranger's head. (I save that for the weekend rush.)

The name he was looking for was "Skywise," in case you didn't know already.

On a related note...am I still the top Google result for "Elfquest orgy?"

Hmmm hmmm hmmmmm....

Yup. Okay, just checking.

So, just with my brief poking about on the internet, it looks like the general consensus is that DC's new weekly series Countdown is a letdown after the mostly positively-received 52, and folks are noting that sales on the book have been dropping.

In our case, however, with our most recent DC order adjustments with the distributor (where we get to bump up or cut the numbers on initial orders just prior to the items shipping), we raised our orders slightly on Countdown. We're still selling at about the same numbers 52 did, if not maybe a tad more.

It's not like I haven't heard some grumbling about the series from our own customers, but mostly along the lines of "it's too slow" and "it hasn't really grabbed me just yet." I haven't heard anything along the lines of "I'm dropping this turkey" -- I think even the people who aren't 100% thrilled with it are hanging on to see if it picks up. And just as many customers have said that they're really enjoying it, and a few think it's better than 52. (I think it's okay, myself...it's not quite as engaging as 52, but it's perfectly acceptable superhero fluff.)

'Course, if the customers who are on the fence about the series feel that things haven't picked up sufficiently, perhaps we'll see a sharp decline in sales in short order. However, I did have my fair share of folks who kept threatening to drop 52 as well...but as each new issue came in every week, they still kept buying it, and I experienced very little attrition of readers over the course of the year. Perhaps the weekly schedule afforded the somewhat undecided readers little chance to consider dropping the book that, say, a month gap would have allowed?

Another robot blogger has joined the ranks of Robot Mike and Robot Chris. WELCOME TO THE MECHANICAL BROTHERHOOD, ROBOT PHIL.

Okay, as I'm sure you've seen noted both here and elsewhere, the wise and good BeaucoupKevin gave us the supremely useful AskCerebra, a comics weblog-specific search engine. Nicely done, and very overdue, I think we can all agree.

Well, as great as this is, for some us it just isn't specific enough.

Thus, Progressive Ruin and Google bring you:

...the Swamp Thing Search Engine. It still needs some tweaking, but I've included a number of Swamp Thing specific sites, as well as a couple of official sites of creators associated with Swampy, and, yes, my own site (though I'm going to have to do some extensive fiddling with the engine to prevent my few non-Swampy posts from being included).

So, now, at last, you can do a search on "I'm Chalk" and get this post instead of someone misspelling "I'm chock-full" (and, oddly enough, I'm the top result for that, too).

If you can think of a Swampy site that should be included in the engine, let me know. Even if it's about the movies, TV show, or, God help us, the cartoon. Just drop the URL into AskCranius, and if nothing pops up, send your address my way.

Kevin is so going to kill me.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I forfeited the right to call anyone a "nerd." 


1. Shiny Beasts - a new collection of several of Rick Veitch's shorts from Epic Illustrated and Heavy Metal, including one story written by Alan Moore. Here's a Newsarama interview with Veitch about the book. Great stuff...bizarre, funny, and creepy as only Mr. Veitch can manage.

2. The All-New Atom #12 - Fun, solid superhero adventure written by Gail Simone and illustrated by Mike Norton and Dan Green, that's not afraid to go for a laugh or two. That "Thrills! Adventures! And Laughs" logo needs to be on this book.

3. The Comics Journal #283 - Good Lord, I've been reading this mag for almost 25 years. Anyway, this ish includes an interview with Lewis Trondheim (here's a snippet), and reprints a 1949 adaptation of The 39 Steps.

4. Black Summer #0 by Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp - I hesitate to explain what this comic's about, since that could get me visits from men in dark glasses and black suits. So, if you wanna know, go read about it here. It was both horrifying and compelling and way too short (but what do you want for a 99-cent preview issue?), and shows that there's yet a little bit of life yet to be wrung out of the superhero genre.

5. Okay, I poked fun at it when it showed up in Previews, but when it came time to type the orders into the computotron...well, I couldn't resist. So now I am the proud owner of one of these things:

Yes, that's right, I now have a Snakes on a Plane talking pen, which says two fantastic lines of Sam Jackon's dialogue...only one of which is Safe for Work. There's even a website for it, where you can hear the clips your own self. By the way, this pen is DAMN LOUD.


I apologize for the so-far-after-the-fad mention of Snakes on a Plane.


Okay, so Lucy Lawless played a character on the new Battlestar Galactica series, right? And she is, of course, best known for playing the title role on Xena: Warrior Princess.

Dynamite Entertainment publishes comics based on both properties.

Surely you see where I'm going with this.

In a world where there exists an Archie Vs. Punisher comic, there must be room for a Battlestar Galactica/Xena crossover. To wit: the Galactica finally reaches a planet that they think is Earth, but the human populace is still comparatively primitive...not the technologically advanced civilization they were expecting. And on this planet, they discover a skilled and dangerous warrior, who, oddly, looks suspiciously like one of the Cylon models with whom they're familiar....

I didn't Google that up. I don't want to Google it up. I am 100% positive someone else has already cooked up that idea. But I'm not looking. Let me bask in my own genius for a moment before one of you folks crush my hopes and dreams with some of your "verifiable facts" and "relevant links."


I need a vacation.

In other news:

BeaucoupKevin puts together comics weblog search engine, gives me new ways to see how I rank in terms of Swamp Thing search results. (At the moment...number uno, friends.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

One step forward, four steps back. 

Newly added to the vast Mikester Comic Archives:

These pocketbooks date from '70 to '74, and reprint several stories in black and white. I like the nice, simple cover designs on these. I particularly enjoy the cover of Where's Archie, where it looks like Betty just realized the murderer is Archie, while Arch rushes from the crime scene. (And inside is the story "Plane Crazy," which I've discussed before, where Betty and Veronica are...well, I'll just refer you to the previous post.)

In other news:

ROBOT CHRIS SIMS HAS JOINED THE ROBOT UPRISING. He fully supports my...um, being a sad robot, I guess.

R. Stevens, of Diesel Sweeties fame, took my lazy post from Saturday and turned it into something worthwhile. God bless that man.

And to complete the "Mike links back to previous posts" theme of today's post...if you ever wanted your very own Doom Button (as shown here), well...here you go. Sure, it lacks the simplicity of the Doom Button I originally presented, but megalomaniacs can't be choosers. (Thanks to Ken at Ringwood for pointing this out to me!)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Okay, I've been kinda out of it/busy/comatose in front of the boob tube over the last couple of days, so my weblogging has been a bit out of whack. So here are a few things I've been wanting to address, or just point out, from the last few days:
  • Publisher announces, then cancels, Nymphet manga. Should Nymphet eventually be released (as pal Dorian tells me another publisher is trying to get the rights to the series), I hope that retailers who do carry it don't end up having to explain themselves in sentences that end with the phrase "Your Honor."

    We didn't order it (as our manga-adviser Dor explains here), but it's not like we order every single manga book (or comic book, or graphic novel) that comes down the pike anyway.

  • Speaking of Dor, he did one of his trailer review posts just the other day, which I always enjoy. Now I'm totally excited for Duck.

  • And speaking of Dor yet again...he recently bought from us a copy of Mary Marvel #23, and featured some of its panels in his most recent posting. Now, there's one thing about the cover I wanted to note, and it's this:

    When was the last time you saw a superhero comic -- I mean, a standard issue, regular monthly adventure superhero comic, not a "humor" book (and yes, the quotes are there on purpose) -- promise "Thrills! Adventures! And Laughs!"

    "Thrills! Adventures! And Laughs!" should so totally be the regular cover slogan on All Star Batman and Robin.

  • One more re: Dor -- he was poking through the latest ish of Wizard at the store, and upon seeing the article where Mark Millar and Brian Bendis interview each other, his immediate reaction was: "Oh, for...why didn't Wizard just run a picture of them sixty-nining, and be done with it?" And that, friends, is your Unpleasant Mental Image of The Day.

  • Um...it doesn't really count as a "Retailer Incentive" variant cover if retailers didn't know ahead of time (i.e. when they were actually placing their orders) that there was a variant cover coming.

    By the way, at the shop...nobody likes the variant cover (which we are selling at cover price, by the way). Our customers seem to prefer the regular cover with the creepy guy surrounded by piles of comics. You'd think they'd had enough of a creepy guy with piles of comics just seeing me at the store.

  • Franklin Mint alters quarters to feature Silver Surfer, U.S. Mint not entirely pleased with the matter. Which is just as well...I don't want to start seeing ads for Coca Cola or Walmart on the backs of my dollar bills. Though I suppose it's only a matter of time, anyway.

  • We still get lots of requests for that Free Comic Book Day Umbrella Academy comic at the shop, and luckily I still have a few to pass out. If all the people who pick up the free preview comic come back for the actual debut of the series, it'll be one of our top-selling books...but needless to say, there's a vast gulf between what people will take for free and what people will be willing to dole out three or four bucks for.

  • Alan David Doane is back in blogging action, in case you haven't noticed. And his RSS feed now works...you know, I had been wondering why my reader wasn't getting his updates.

  • Doodled at work, from an image that came to me in a dream the night before:


    I have a bunch of doodles taped to backs of boxes, the store's computer...I even have one Dorian drew, still taped to the back of the box on the counter with all the variant/autographed comics in it. I should scan all the pics and put 'em up, someday.

Monday, June 04, 2007

An ugly American looks at Mexican comics. 

So a while back, my girlfriend made one of her regular visits to Mexico to visit family, and before she left I sez to her, I sez: "Say, could you, perchance, acquire for me some superheroic adventure pamphlets, in color, and in the mellifluous tongue of your native people, for my perusal and possible edification?" After she punched me, she agreed, and a few short weeks later, lo, there was a bounty of Mexican superhero funnybooks delivered unto me, and it was good.

The first one pictured up there is an issue of Hellboy: Wake the Devil, which I haven't removed from its protective shrinkwrap yet because 1) as we all know, leaving it sealed in the plastic bag automatically means it's protected from any and every kind of damage caused by nature, man, or God, and thus will remain mint for all eternity*; and 2) I wanted to leave it in the shrinkwrap until I could scan it and show all of you, the faithful banner-ad clicking**, Progressive Ruin-reading audience, that Hellboy is sold pre-shrinkwrapped by the publisher with a warning stating that it's for teens and adults. Just thought that was interesting.

A few more of the funnybooks I acquired:

One of the "War Games" issues of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, published under the blanket title of Batman. I wonder if all the parts of this crossover were published in Mexico just under the single Batman title. That would have made things easier.

You know, "Los Cuatro Fantasticos" just sounds so much better than "Fantastic Four." "Los Cuatro Fantasticos" sounds like they're out at parties all the time, going to fancy dinners and makin' time with the ladies (or men). "Fantastic Four" sounds like something you'd see in Vegas if Frank Sinatra, Jr. is sold out.

Here's the 40th anniversary edition of Daredevil and, again, it just sounds so much cooler in Spanish: "El Hombre Sin Miedo" has it all over "The Man Without Fear." Okay, "Man Without Fear" isn't bad, per se, but it doesn't sing. ...Going overboard a bit? Yeah, probably. Sorry about that.

I realize that "UN MUNDO SIN LA LIGA DE LA JUSTICIA" sounds like it'd be interesting, but I read this in English, and it's really not.

I also received an X-Men (or "Los Hombres X") comic (and it made as much sense to me in Spanish as it does in English), as well as a Spanish-language edition of All-Star Superman #1, which is cool because...hey, it's All-Star Superman #1, it's cool in any language. I didn't scan the cover, though, because it's virtually the same as the English-language edition, but I did scan this panel because Clark shouting "STOP THE PRESSES" in Spanish is fantastic:

The paper quality of these comics is quite nice...all have slick, thick cover stock, and the pages inside are bright and cleanly printed as well. The DC interior pages are slicker than the Marvel pages, and I haven't checked the Hellboy yet, because, you know, that whole "mint in the bag" thing. You understand.

There are also very few ads. On the inside and back covers, maybe a house ad in the middle of the book, and that's pretty much it. The Daredevil anniversary issue had a couple more ads, but given the book's extra size, that's not too surprising. On the whole, it's a lot fewer pages of ads than the 1/3rd or so of the U.S. editions taken up by advertising. The back cover ads of all the comics are for a cell phone ringtone/wallpaper company.

So there you go...Mike and his funnybooks from Mexico. The hope was that these would help me brush up on my Spanish, and so far...well, I'm not sure what use knowing "Good Lord (choke)! How can something so big move so fast?" in Spanish would be, should I ever find myself stranded in Mexico, but, hey, you never know.

* This may be sarcasm.

**This may be entirely shameless.***

***No...no, it is entirely shameless.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Yes, but what does it mean? 

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