mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, September 08, 2007

My Twitters, let me show you them. 

Currently Twittering today's workday at my Twitter page. Updated when I can (or when I switch the CD on the store's player, which gives me an excuse to Twit. Um, yeah).

"Feel so much closer to them...like having them in your own family!" 

from Teen Confessions #36 (November 1965)

There's an additional ad on the same page as this one, for copies of the birth certificates of all four Beatles. It's $2.00 for all four of these, so it's a better deal than the mariage records. Thanks, Dad®!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle (1918 - 2007). 

So long, Madeleine.

Be, butterfly and behemoth,
be galaxy and grasshopper,
star and sparrow,
you matter,
you are,
Be, caterpillar and comet,
be porcupine and comet,
sea sand and solar system,
sing with us,
dance with us,
rejoice with us,
for the glory of creation,
sea gulls and seraphim,
angle worms and angel host,
chrysanthemum and cherubim
(O cherubim)
Sing for the glory
of the living and the loving
the flaming of creation
sing with us
dance with us
be with us

- Madeleine L'Engle, A Wind in the Door

This is the first time I've mentioned "Rambo" on my site. 

So pal Sean finally convinced me to go check out Cartoon Dump, a parody of a kid's cartoon show as if produced by a studio with absolutely no social responsibility whatsoever. (So, as if it were produced by a studio, har har.) Brought to us by cartoon expert Jerry Beck and Mystery Science Theatre 3000's former TV's Frank, Frank Conniff, Cartoon Dump presents hilariously awful animated shorts for our amusement and/or terror. Apparently there's a live stage show version of this put on monthly...that's gotta be a hoot. Reminds me a bit of the old Pee Wee Herman stage show where he did similar routines.

Episode #1 is available at the link above, which also features several behind the scenes cast shots (and the lovely young lady dressed as "Buf Badger" pictured there that's given me an all new appreciation of furries). Episodes one and two are available here, along with several other animated shorts.

Purchased very, very few comic books this week. The Lobster Johnson comic, by Mike Mignola and Jason Armstrong is appropriately pulpy and action-packed, but doesn't it feel weird that this character is a Hellboy spinoff? I know he was there from the beginning, but it's been so long since Lobster Johnson has appeared, and Hellboy has been, more or less, a constant presence on the stands and cutting its own path, that being reminded that there's essentially a costumed superhero in the Hellboy milieu feels a bit odd.

Yeah, I know, the Hellboy universe regularly features witches and fishmen and humanoid frogs and spirit-animated robots and big ol' tentacled Lovecraftian critters and werewolves and so on, but I'm apparently drawing the line at "superhero." Yeah, well, what can I tell you? I'll get over it.

Brought up in a discussion with Captain Corey at the store on Thursday:

Crossover we want to see? Well, we were discussing the possibility of Sylvester Stallone someday doing a Rocky versus Rambo movie, with him playing both roles of course, but the general consensus was that Rocky was probably outmatched by the newly over-the-top splatterpunk Rambo (as seen in this probably not safe for work trailer).Yeah, I know some of you may have a differing opinion on this, but just go with me here, okay?

So who did we decide could pose a sufficient challenge to Mr. Rambo for a big budget crossover movie?

John Rambo versus Terminator.

C'mon, how cool would that be? It'd be the stupidest, most violent, and most absolutely fantastic movie ever. Especially since, in our fantasy film, at some point Rambo would have to be fitted with cybernetic parts to be more of an even match with the ruthless Terminator robots. Yes, Cyborg Rambo. Just ponder that for a moment.

Per Corey's brother Chad: "Our historical records were incomplete, and we were wrong. It's not John Conner who leads the humans to victory...it's John Rambo!"

Granted, that's a heck of a mistake to make, but, really, that's all the set-up you need for the film that's bound to be the 2010 Academy Awards' Best Picture.

If you say you wouldn't want to see this film...YOU'RE LYING.

Yes, I realize I probably should be on some form of medication. Hey, at least I'm not still going on about the eBay.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Picking at the scab. 

I was kinda stewing a bit about the whole "eBay canning some of my auctions" thing, so while I was at the shop on Wednesday...well, it was kinda slow, what with no new comics yet, so I actually used the eBay "Live Help" function for the first time. Basically, it's a chat window that connects you directly to some eBay employee (I'm assuming it is a live person, and not eBay's version of Eliza*), and so I asked this person what was up with my auctions getting canned, while other naughty comics on the eBay got off (har har) scot-free.

Well, he didn't have any answers for me, so he directed me to the page where I could contact someone else regarding this policy. I sent a message explaining what happened, asking why this policy was enforced so sporadically (for example, why my auction for the UK underground Edward's Heave was removed, where the entire adult content was some bad words and a cartoon nipple, while there were nearly 200 auction listings for Preacher, the content of any given issue being far worse than anything in Edward's Heave).

The response I've received told me, in essence:

1. The items were removed because they said "Adults Only" on the cover. [And so did several of the other items I listed but were left online, because...]

2. My other auctions were not removed because only the auctions that were reported to eBay were reviewed.

3. They rely on user reports for violating items, and that sellers are responsible for their own compliance.

To sum up: so long as no one complains, you apparently can get away with listing adult material outside the adult section. But, if you annoy a user who then reports you, eBay's kinda obligated to do something about it, rather than risk showing up in some "PORN FOR SALE ON AUCTION SITE" news story.

When I sent in that e-mail, I did half-jokingly mention to Employee Jeff, "Gee, I sure hope I'm not about to screw things up for everybody" -- you know, suddenly because of me all auctions for, say, DC's Vertigo line are now restricted to the naughty eBay section. The likelihood of that happening is pretty slim, admittedly, since the eBay-owned PayPal payment service is prohibited, for various legal reasons, from being used for "adult" material, and I doubt eBay would want to take the hit in potentially lost PayPal fees from moving so many items to the mature area (where the PayPal option is verboten).

A few people threw the word "censorship" around in reference to my experience here, and I don't really think it's censorship per se. EBay's policy on this material is clearly stated, and I just happened to get caught. It smacks more of eBay, Inc. covering its ass, trying to show a complainer that, oops, we don't want that dirty stuff out where the young'uns can see it! See, it's gone! No reason to complain! Or file a class action lawsuit! I think any actual censorious intent would likely not have let my auction for Gay Comics stand, since you know how would-be censoring busybodies like the gays.

I'm not saying that kind of censoring abuse isn't possible, or hasn't happened, on eBay. I just don't think it's the case here.

One other thing...when you sign up for eBay, one of the things you agree to under "Terms of use and your privacy" is that you're at least 18 years old. So, theoretically, every potential bidder on eBay is an adult anyway, and if they're not, that's eBay's fault, not the seller's. See, buck successfully passed back!

For your convenience, here's more "fun for all ages!" comic book stuff allowed to remain in eBay's general listing section:

Bondage Fairies

Threshold (Avatar's porn 'n' violence anthology)

R. Crumb stuff

Milo Manara

"Hey, Mike, bitter much?"

"Nah, not me."

Pal Dorian ain't busy enough, so he started a new When Fangirls Attack-esque linkblog Comic Gays. Go, encourage the man. At least check out his great logo.

* Yes, I linked to Wikipedia again. You'll live.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I'm more amused than annoyed, honest. 

So last week, I listed a number of underground comix on the eBay. Well, relisted, actually, as they're all undergrounds I'd tried to sell on eBay before but had no luck moving them. Anyway, I figured I'd give 'em another try, at lower opening bids, and see what happened.

I listed 23 underground comix. By the next day, eBay had cancelled six of those auctions, and the notification e-mail I was sent told me they were cancelled because they were Mature Audience items listed in the general auction area.

Now, my problem isn't with the fact that someone at eBay felt these auctions were inappropriate outside of eBay's Mature Audiences section. I can understand their concern, even though, as I said, I've listed these specific undergrounds (and many others) in the past with no problems. But, if someone at eBay says they don't want this adult material listed along with Superman and Spider-Man, well, I can't really blame them. I got away with it for quite a while, so it was just a matter of time before someone said "Hey, now." However, eBay may want to police the undergrounds category a little more closely if they think it's that big of an issue.

My real problem is why they cancelled those specific six underground auctions, and left the other seventeen untouched. The auctions they cancelled:

Armageddon #2 & #3 (nudity on the covers...okay, you got me)

Adventures of the Little Green Dinosaur #1 & #2 (some explicit material inside, though you couldn't tell it from the covers)

Clowns by Dave Geiser (don't remember if there's anything overtly "mature" in this comic or not)

Edward's Heave (British underground - c'mon, who at eBay has even heard of this comic?)

Included in the auctions that were allowed to continue were Tales from the Sphinx #2 (with very explicitly detailed sex scenes), Yellow Dog #21 (generally something filthy going on in any given issue of this series), and others that were just as "mature," if not more so, than the titles in the auctions eBay canceled.

There's no rhyme or reason to it...one Geiser book was canceled, another was left up, for example. Presumably another eBay user was browsing the auction listings, spotted some of our auction listings, and just complained about the ones they saw. And, thankfully, didn't click on the "seller's other items" link.

Or, "Mike thought cynically," someone wanted to list the same items, and didn't want the competition.

At any rate, I was pretty annoyed, particularly since there are plenty of other comic book auctions going on right now that are far worse than anything I listed. For example, a search on eBay reveals listings for the underground comic The Life and Loves of Cleopatra, one of the most sexually explicit undergrounds ever published. And I found several listings for Barry Blair's naughty book Leather & Lace, Tim Vigil's porn-gore book Faust, a boatload of Verotik books, and...hell, just type in "nude" in eBay's search box and see what pops up...er, so to speak. And, c'mon, Crying Freeman? We used to half-jokingly call this "Naked People Stabbing Each Other Monthly."

And I just found a listing for the Eros Comics' trade paperback collection of Meet the Lovejoys. I can keep this up all day ("...said the bishop to the actress").

Yeah, I know..."Big Company in Inconsistent Enforcement of Own Policies Shocker." Not news in the slightest, I realize. Just a tad aggravating when it happens to you, y'know?

Well, this has happened to me once before...I had a number of Blackthorne Press reprints of the Axa comic strip (where the female lead is frequently topless) that got yanked by eBay for being too naughty to be listed beside family friendly books like Chronicles of Wormwood and Black Kiss.

I just relisted 'n' sold them later.

In other news:

  • I've been wanting to do the gag in yesterday's post for a long, long time...but had no Care Bears comics to scan from. Not until this collection came in.

    I swear, we don't purchase collections just so I have stuff to scan for the site. BUT THEY HELP.

  • I've been using the Project Wonderful ads in my sidebar for a little while now, and they've been working out quite nicely. A big thank you to my advertisers, and a big thank you to my readers who have been good enough to click on those ads and make my advertisers feel loved.

    I've even put together my own Project Wonderful ad which, as I write this, is currently up at pal Dorian's site though, at least, the rest of Wednesday (unless I'm outbid...when it goes down I'll link to a local copy of the ad image -- EDIT: I've been outbid, so here's the ad). Now, I really wasn't doing it for the advertising...Dor and I tend to have a pretty good overlap of readers anyway. Mostly, I just did it to annoy Dorian, by getting my goofy mug on his site. Plus, I like the sheer obnoxiousness of my ad.

    But now I'm considering actually buying ads on other sites specifically to get more eyeballs here. I better figure out how to condense my site down to a 117x30 pixel image....

  • Here's a new site with an interesting premise. At Not Blog X (good name!), a certain G. Kendall plans to answer the question "Were X-Men comics in the 1990s as bad as you think?" He starts with a solid and fair overview of X-Force #1, and continues with that series' second issue and X-Factor #71. Only three entries so far, but I hope to see more.

  • Mag 'n' H at Comic Treadmill just put up post in tribute of Spider-Man parade balloons...including a link to an online petition to get the Spidey balloon back in the Macy's Thanksgiving parade.

    I didn't even realize Spidey was out of the parade. No one tells me anything.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What even the gods fear. 

Monday, September 03, 2007

I'll probably be talking about stuff from this collection for quite a while. 

So over the weekend, we acquired several long boxes' worth of comic books from someone who himself had acquired them several years ago from a comic book store that was going out of business.

Most of the "biggies" were gone...no Superman, Batman, X-Men, or Spider-Man. In fact, most of the collection was nothing to get too excited about. Lots of black 'n' white boom titles, including Hamster Vice and a pile of Unicorn Kings...that sort of thing. Alas, no Shadow of the Groundhog, one of the Worst Comic Books Ever, and still eluding my grasp.

There was one black and white comic I was all ready to scan and feature on the site, but Mister Kitty beat me to it. Really, New York City Outlaws #3 is fantastic, though Comrade Kitty doesn't mention the great ads, like the back cover ad for heavy metal monster Thor (though he does note Thor's presence in a story in the comic itself), and an interior ad for the metal band called...er, Snatch. Ask for them by name.

There were plenty of '80s indie color books as well...lots of E-Man, which is a pretty good comic, actually, but not exactly in demand nowadays. Plus, there were several instances of what looked like, at first glance, good runs of titles like Warlord, but were in fact just seven or eight different issues, with multiple copies of each. Ah, well.

Now, I know this collection is sounding like a big ol' "why'd you bother" type thing. But, this fella what was selling the collection wanted to get rid of the whole thing at once, and, as it turned out, there was enough stuff in the collection to make it worthwhile. Sure, a big chunk of it is destined for the bargain boxes, but that stuff we didn't pay very much at all for. However, we paid good money for what we could use, and that was the stacks of '70s romance books, and the '70s and '80s DC war books, and the Charlton Bullseyes and the huge pile of Tales of the Unexpected and those couple issues of Kong and Rima the Jungle Girl. Heck, we even needed some of those E-Mans to fill some holes in our stock. And that little stack of the color Sam & Max book from Comico should do quite nicely at the shop as well.

Some nice finds included some of the more popular Marvel Star comics, like Ewoks and Droids and the elusive Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake. Sure, laugh if you want...point and jeer if you must, but people go crazy for these. Only a couple different issues of each, but multiple copies of 'em, and that's good enough for me. There were some Smurfs, too, but I think I have enough of those at the moment.

The only real "oh, yeah, this was a shop from the early '90s" moment I had was pulling out a couple of "ashcans." Originally, ashcans in the comics biz were cheap copies of comics produced solely to secure copyrights on characters or titles or logos...that sort of thing. Basically, it was an in-house production, not intended for sale or distribution. However, in the '90s, "ashcans" became yet another "collectible" in a booming market that demanded more rare, hot items, and suddenly we had no end of "ashcan" comics, mass produced and sold through comic shops, or given away as promotional items (sometimes packaged with magazines such as Wizard or Hero). A manufacturer of comic supplies (it may have been Ultra Pro) even began producing protective sleeves sized specifically for the ashcan format.

Usually, when I come across ashcans in collections, they're the Star Trek Deep Space Nine one, or the Wetworks one, which I think both came from Hero...I just kinda groan and toss them aside. They're about as common as dirt, or Deathmate. But when I pull one of these out of a box:

...hey, now we're talkin'. Signed by Rob Liefeld his own self...I'm touching something Rob Liefeld once touched. I...I think I'm developing super powers by its very proximity. Head...shrinking.... Crosshatching...appearing across my body.... Anatomy...becoming more improbable....

Er, anyway. That was my weekend. Also, it was ungodly hot. How're you doin'?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I'm a little under the weather this weekend... 

...So please, enjoy this vampire bat from 1974 and I'll be back with real content shortly:

I do find myself intrigued by the "Horror Outfit" that's offered along with the bat. The "Flying Fish Monster?" The "Surprise MAGNETIC Slimy Creature?" Is it a surprise that it's included? Is the magn...excuse me, MAGNETIC part the surprise? Or does it just do something surprising? The world may never know (until it's Googled up or something).

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