mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 05, 2008

They don't make great DC house ads like this any more. 

house ad from DC Comics, 1969

Friday, January 04, 2008

This is not the 2007 round-up. 

So, regarding the conclusion of the "One More Day" storyline in the Spider-Man line of funnybooks, in which most major changes in Spidey's life, including his marriage, are wished away:

1. Pretty much universally reviled...most of my customers are reading it for the car-wreck aspect of it, or simply did not believe it was going to end the way it ended. And online reaction seems to be pretty negative as well...finally, online reaction and real world reaction jibe with each other.*

2. The actual writer credited with the script has been openly critical with how it was handled. (And had this just been a regular comic writer, and not a Big Name Writer Who's Written TV Shows, Even, that Marvel is desperately trying to keep around, he'd probably be knocking on DC's door right now looking for work as a result of that criticism.)

3. Was apparently put in place to do away with the much-maligned Spider-Man/Mary Jane marriage...well, "much maligned" in current Marvel chief editor Joe Quesada's head, anyway, since, as I've noted before, most folks have seemed pretty okay with it.

4. Sets the stage for the "Brand New Day" relaunch of the Spider-Man franchise, which will be read by all the same people who already read Spider-Man comics, minus the few folks disgusted enough by how this last storyline was handled that they'll drop the title.

5. Is almost guaranteed to be undone once Quesada is replaced, if not sooner.

So, in conclusion, these "One More Day" comics were dumb. I told you it'd be a groaner of a storyline. Spider-Man sells his soul** to the Devil to avoid personal responsibility. Another heroic triumph for our friendly neighborhood Webhead! Yay!

Also, while thinking about a 2007 wrap-up, which may or may not happen, I was looking at some sales figures:

Over the last year or so, Captain America had some pretty good sales. It was a solid mid-lister for us to begin with, but the Civil War tie-in issues the number of copies we were moving had about doubled.

Then of course there was the "Death of Cap" issue, which sold crazy numbers, and had high demand by not just comic fans but by the general public, driven into stores by mass media reporting...for about a month, anyway. Then sales dropped back down to about the Civil War tie-in levels, and have been dipping slightly each month since. I suspect the debut of the replacement Cap with the not terribly attractive new costume will temporarily bump sales up again.

So, while the Death of Cap brought new people into shops, it appears it didn't keep them around. I do have more people buying Captain America than prior to the Civil War/death issues, but it's the regular comic fans, the already-converted, who made room on their buylists or in their pocketbooks, who are picking it up. The new folks who got their copies have made their investment (currently selling for about $3 to $7 on the eBay, non-CGCed), and are secure in the knowledge that Marvel is no longer publishing comics about one of their flagship characters. Why would they come back and look for more issues? They have the last one, right?

Stephen King's Dark Tower also had a lot of hype and real-world advertising, and started off strong. It actually ended relatively strong as well, though the number of copies we were moving by that point had dropped by about 50%. A lot of the new people coming to the shop specifically for Dark Tower dropped off right quick, not wanting to come in once a month to get the latest installment. I imagine most of them eventually decided it'd be easier to get a collection of all the issues off Amazon.com rather than get it pieced out to them. Or maybe they decided a representative issue or two was enough for their King collection. There is some back issue movement to folks coming in looking for issues now that the series is over, but it's pretty slight.

And then there's The Un-Men. Let me take you back to the early 1980s, with early 1980s Mikester, resplendent in his Dokken ("Rhymes with 'Rockin'") t-shirt and his gorgeous, shoulder-length golden hair, going to his local funnybook store to buy his Swamp Thing comic. The store gets in five copies. Early 1980s Mikester buys a copy. Another customer buys a copy. The last three go unsold, unsold, and languish in the back issue bins.

And that's where we are with Un-Men today. I buy a copy. Customer Rob buys a copy. (Hi, Rob!) And the other three are unloved. Well, I think one of the employees gets it, too. Plus, my hair seems to have a lot more gray in it now. And my t-shirt now says "I listen to both kinds of music: 'gangsta' and 'rap.'"

In other news:

* Unlike the online vs. real world reactions to, say, Countdown. Or All Star Batman.***

** Or "trades the perfect love of his marriage" or whatever. Still dumb.

*** Hey, I was going to get a mention of All Star Batman in here somewhere.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Still way under the weather... 

...so all I've got today is Jack Kirby's embodiment of Death from the New Gods, the Black Racer:

Only Kirby could take something as potentially goofy-looking as the Black Racer and make it...well, still kinda goofy-looking, but with a good portion of kick-ass, too. If your embodiment of Death is a guy in armor on skis who flies, well, the only way you're gonna sell it to the reader is to just throw yourself completely into it. And by God, Kirby gave us the coolest flying-armored-Death-on-skis that has ever been seen, before or since.

So, the Black Racer. Cool character, or coolest character?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

My New Year's Resolutions. 

1. Do some kind of redesign of this site. Perhaps even (gasp) leave Blogger for some other weblogging software. At least clean up my FTP directory. Good Lord, it's a mess, no thanks to that update to "new" Blogger.

2. Maybe someday get around to doing some kind of round-up for 2007. Like, I don't know, in May or something.

3. Finally, finally get some kind of regular podcast/audioblog thing going. Doing this podcast with Kid Chris and Dafna was a blast, and I'd like to do more. I mean, wouldn't you like to hear me and my pal Dorian dish the dirt?

4. Try not to get bothered by "back-seat retailers" who tell me I'm dumb for not jumping when Marvel says "jump." Yeah, because that will never be abused.

5. Fire Employee Aar...er, I, um, I mean, investigate the possibility of expanding and/or rotating the employee pool at the shop.

6. Do another "character link-dump" at some point. I haven't done one of those in, like, forever.

7. Hopefully get around to reviewing some of those review comics/graphic novels I've been sent recently. I'm so terrible at writing reviews...that almost feels like "work."

8. Give pal Dorian a big ol' man-hug and see how uncomfortable I can make him.

8a. Make sure his boyfriend Pete isn't around when I do it, or things could go horribly awry.

9. Get more scripts into the hands of Church and Birdie over at The Rack. Whether they want them or not.

10. Continue to sing the praises of All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder. I kinda fell behind on that last year.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

If you need an explanation, please consider that I'm currently heavily medicated. 


and ME, MIKE STERLING (not pictured)

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New End of Civilization! 

It's time for the last End of Civilization for 2007, internet pals, and I apologize for the delay. Bust out your copy of the Diamond Previews catalog, January 2008 edition, and follow along, why don't you. (Links to previous installments in the sidebar, somewhere.)

p. 60 - Domo stuff:

So, how many people will I irritate by saying you can put this on your "overplayed internet fad shelf" along with your Chuck Norris book?

Yes, I know it's a character in some cartoon or other. Hey, it's the End of Civilization...I'm under no obligation to be reasonable.

p. 133 - The Joker 1:6 Scale Deluxe Collector Figure:

Couldn't care less about the figure, but dude:


p. 235 - Lady Death 2007 Swimsuit Special Canvas Cover:

Only 150 copies, at $100 a pop. "Image printed on an actual canvas to fully capture the beautiful work of this master craftsman!" I don't know what I can add to that.

p. 261 - Army of Darkness/Xena: Why Not? #1:

It's a refreshing bit of honesty in that title, there.

p. 305 - Ghost Whisperer: The Haunted #1:

Here's my joke for the folks who've been in the business for a decade or two: boy, it's too bad Innovation's out of business...this comic would have been perfect for them.

Also, making the Jennifer Love Hewitt photo cover the "rare" variant? Do you not want people to pick this up off the shelf? Don't underestimate the buying power of the horny fanboy, my friend.

p. 402 - Stonehenge: Build Your Own Ancient Wonder:

You know, with just the slightest bit of repackaging...you've got Spinal Tap merchandise.

p. 438 - Battlestar Galactica Classic Heroes Colonial Warriors Minimates Set:

Does Muffit the robot Daggit really count as a "warrior?" I suppose he bit a Cylon or two in his time, I guess.

Which reminds me...did I ever tell you about the kid, back when I was in grade school, who insisted everyone call him "Boxey" after Muffit's owner? (And yes, this was while BG was still on the air.) (And no, it wasn't me.) (IT WASN'T.)

p. 438 - Battlestar Galactica Classic Villains Cylon Emperor Minimates Set:

I remember as a young'un watching BG and trying to get a good look at the Cylon's "Imperious Leader," always presented at the top of a tall pedestal and shrouded in shadow. There's a photo of him on the Wikipedia page (hey, Swamp Thing star Dick Durock was in the costume...I didn't know that!). The original toy gave you a good look at the fella, which was a tad disappointing. The Minimate version isn't much better, but I do like the James Brown hair.

Also, the same full page ad for these Minimates appears on pages 410 and 439. Oops.

p. 460 Iron Man Classic Helmet Silver 1/1 Scale Prop Replica (& Classic Helmet Gold):

Features "comfortable black padded lining" -- that means they're wearable, friends! For only $349 (Silver) or $399 (Gold), you could be the coolest guy at Wizard World!

p. 460 - X-Men II Visor of Cyclops 1/1-Scale Prop Replica:

Putting out a pricy prop replica tying into a movie that's several years old, and has since had a newer installment in the series? Featuring the character from the film nobody likes? Hoo boy.

p. 476 - Frank Kozik's 8-Inch Murder Bomb Figure:

"And the award for 'Most Tasteful Figure of 2008' goes to...."

p. 478 - Ron English's Cathy Cowgirl 10-Inch Vinyl Figure:




p. 494 - Doctor Who Dalek Sec Voice Changer Helmet:

Is it just me, or has Doctor Who had an awful lot of these voice changer helmets? And would even a Doctor Who fan want to wear this one? The Cyberman one, maybe. The human/Dalek hybrid...I'm not so sure.

p. 498 - Hanadeka Club by Yoneo Morita Plush Puppies:


p. 499 - Satsuriko No Jango Franco Il Nero PVC Fig:

This is your token "cutsey Japanese cartoon gal posing awkwardly and presenting her crotch to you" item for this installment of the End of Civilization. Please, enjoy.

p. 505 - Now what is it about these items that the Mr. T in Van Bobble-Head amuses me:

...whereas the Star Wars Luke Skywalker X-Wing Bobble-Head terrifies me:

p. 508 - Superman Giant Buddy:

"Why did you dismember me, your Super Buddy? Why? Why?"

p. 508 - Supergirl Incense:

"After a particularly tough tussle, even Supergirl needs to clear her head by burning incense, and this cinnamon and rose scented incense is exactly what the Maid of Steel needs!"

And then you can use your official Supergirl rolled up wet towel to block the gap under your bedroom door to keep all that scent in your room.

p. 509 -Captain America Business Card Holder:

I was going to make a crack about "how to make sure no one takes your business seriously," but then I remembered that the business cards in our shop are being held in a little ceramic toilet, so I don't exactly have the moral high ground, here.

p. 511 - Rambo Signature Edition Knives:

I've only got the First Blood knife pictured here. First Blood II and Rambo III knives are also available. Each features the signature of John Rambo...a fictional character.

If you want to learn more about Rambo's knives, and why wouldn't you, here's a site all about them.

p. 511 - Simpsons Dancing "Macho Man" Homer:

If you have a figure like this featuring implied nudity, the first thing anyone browsing the shelves who spots the figure will do is look under the towel, skirt, etc., to look for naughty bits. As if they'd manufacture a Homer Simpson doll with a little dancing Homer between his legs.

'Course, I'm not innocent in this sort of thing, either.

p. 542 - Zombie Strippers DVD:

That there's even something called Zombie Strippers is notable enough. But the solicitiation includes this bit of info:

"NOTE: This movie has not been released on DVD. Future availability is not guaranteed."

A couple other movies have this same qualifier. Is Sony Pictures Home Entertainment not sure these movies will ever be ready to go? I'm sure there's a rational explanation for this, but taken at face value...okay, most new DVDs were ordered when they had not yet been released on DVD. That's called "preordering." And that's also what makes them NEW DVDs. And telling us we may not get something we're ordering? Okay, that's nothing new for some of the specialty items purchased through Previews, but honestly.

p. 542 - Woodchipper Massacre DVD:

And let us wrap up this month's End of Civilization with a palate-cleansing classic piece of cinema. "How much flesh would a Woodchipper chip, if a Woodchipper could chip flesh?" Let that thought guide you into the new year, my friends.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sick day. 

Alas, I spent most of my Saturday sick in bed, so I don't have much content prepared for today.

So here's another All Star Batman fandom banner to tide you over:

The "All Star Batfan" slogan was taken from commenter Matthew's suggestion.

Further reading: Roscoe proclaims a certain comic book of our acquaintance to be the best of 2007.

Also, commenting upon the groundbreaking All Star Batman review scale, Mr. Butcher reminds me that there is indeed one comic book series in the world that could meet or exceed 1.0asb...and he is absolutely correct. And, upon further consideration, I believe there may be another.

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