mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Hey, what are you guys laughing at?" 

"Oh, you must be laughing at Mike and pal Dorian, since they'll be spending their entire Saturday at..."

"Oh, sure...fine. Be that way. But when we're fishing those cheaply-priced Golden Age off-brand funny animal comics out of the bargain bins*, you'll be laughing out of the other side of your faces, just you wait and see."

* Let the boy dream.

Friday, March 14, 2008

It's probably a sin to turn a psalm into a reference to Wizard World. 

Mark Evanier has his can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup that he puts on his site to indicate he doesn't have time for proper posting...

...and I have this:


I'll be back...well, Sunday, since I'm going to Wizard World L.A. with pal Dorian tomorrow, so expect some Saturday Sluggo, too.

But I do want to say thank you for all the birthday wishes you sent me yesterday, and please spare some for my sister today, as it's now her birthday.

Anyway, even though I'll be walking through the valley of the shadow of comics, I will fear no CGC and bring you a report back from the Wiz event after the weekend. Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Today I am 39 years old. 

Here's the official site for the International Jack Benny Fan Club.

The Museum of Broadcast Communications' biography and filmography of Benny.

An overview, with stills, of "The Mouse That Jack Built" - an animated take-off on The Jack Benny Show.

A 1941 Time Magazine article about Benny's tenth anniversary in radio.

Jack Benny's theme song - warning: autoplays.

The Radio Hall of Fame page for Benny, including an embedded audio sample of Jack at work.

Did The Jack Benny Show ever jump the shark? Bite your tongue, sir!

An appreciation of Benny's Sherlock Holmes parody, including the full radio show where it appeared.

A video clip of Benny's duet with Gisele MacKenzie.

Benny and Johnny Carson receiving the key to the city of Anaheim.

So, whom do you like better? Jack Benny, or his longtime "rival" Fred Allen?

Jack Benny and Groucho Marx:

Jack Benny's Hollywood - locations about town related to Benny (including his grave and the street where he lived).

In case his grave wasn't clue enough, here's a page where you can check if Mr. Benny is alive or dead. "Zombie" not an option.

Jack Benny Middle School and the Jack Benny Center for the Arts, both located in Benny's hometown of Waukegan, IL.

It's true: Jack Benny arranged for a rose to be sent to his wife Mary every day for the rest of her life after he passed on.

A radio commercial for Kodak featuring Benny and his old foil, Frank Nelson (the "yyyyyyesssss?" guy).

Stills and animated gifs from Benny's western film Buck Benny Rides Again.

Another pic: Jack Benny with President Truman.

Turner Classic Movies' article about Benny's much-maligned (at least by Benny and his radio show cast) film, The Horn Blows at Midnight.

Archives of Benny's radio and TV programs.

A forum discussion of Mr. Benny's numerous 39th birthdays.

Happy birthday also to blogging buddy Andrew!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008



from Superman #227 (June/July 1970), reprinted from
Action Comics #296 (Jan 1963) - art by Al Plastino

And before you ask..."sign language?" Yeah, I don't know what Lois was thinking, either.

In other news:
  • Diesel Sweeties will be offering ten webstrip-reprint ebook PDF files for free...I say FREE, m'boy...starting today! First one is up already: keep checking R. Steven's "news" section for the necessary linkage!

  • Tim O'Neil makes a good point about the Watchmen comic containing its own defense against any film adaptations.

  • New comics weblog: I Was Ben. Nice, clean design, good back-to-basics comics blogging, has me listed in the "Old School" links section. I'm "Old School," baby, and don't you forget it! Also, I happen to know at least one of the people behind this site has a long blogging history, comics and otherwise, so I totally vouch for him. Go, visit, encourage this behavior, because I want to keep reading it.

  • Pal Dorian posts the truth about Sean Connery, somehow manages to implicate me. Also, Dor has posted a brief discussion he and I had the other day, in case you want to see what we get up to when you're not looking. No, no, nothing dirty. C'mon.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dave Stevens (1955 - 2008). 

So long, Dave.

(Pictured: Alien Worlds #2 (May 1983), which is the first Dave Stevens comic I read.)

"Darkseid is one tricky hombre." 

So Monday night, I found myself watching an episode of the mid-'80s version of the Super Friends cartoon, when Firestorm and Darkseid were featured characters. The episode was "Darkseid's Golden Trap," in which Darkseid and his henchmen, Desaad and a nearly-unrecognizable Kalibak, travel into distant space to attend the 532nd Annual Intergalactic Criminal Auction, or whatever it was called. I do remember that it was specifically referred to as the 500-something-th annual, which had me wondering which time scale from what alien world they were using to determine the "annual" bit of that title.

Anyway, Darkseid's there to bid on a piece of Gold Kryptonite to use against Superman. Even though the bidding begins at something like 100,000 bleens (bleens being the currency of choice among space criminals, apparently), Darkseid simply says "I bid...one bleen," thus showing that even being on the Super Friends doesn't make him any less of a badass.

It so happens that some Super Friends (Wonder Woman, Black Vulcan, and Firestorm) are there in disguise to get the Gold Kryptonite themselves for safekeeping, and Darkseid finds them out and catches them, and blah blah blah. Back on Earth, Superman, Batman, and El Dorado discover there's trouble...well, actually, Darkseid gives them a space-call to tell them 1) he captured the other heroes, and 2) he's got Gold Kryptonite, instead of just keeping his mouth shut and quietly putting together some kind of secret Gold Kryptonite trap that could catch Supes by surprise. No, he's got to tell him ahead of time so that the Friends can go chasing after him, whip up a cunning plan to defeat him, and prepare for the fact that he has Gold Kryptonite.

Okay, look, here's what I would have done if I was Darkseid. First, I'd fire Desaad. I mean, honestly, that guy gives me the creeps. Second, okay, I'd still make the space-call to the Hall of Justice to let the Super Friends know that, hey, I got your pals here, oh my, I guess you'd better come and rescue them. What I wouldn't do is say, "oh, and by the way, I have the one known piece of Gold Kryptonite, so y'all better plan ahead." No, I'd wait for Supes, Bats, and, er, El D to show up, let them give me the "Your plans are finished, Darkseid" speech, and when Superman tries to put the cuffs on me, whip out that Gold Kryptonite out from under my lead-lined hat. "What th--!? Gold Kryptonite! I so totally wasn't expecting that!" Superman would shout, as his powers depart from him forever. And now there's nothing, nothing to stop me from conquering the universe! Ah HA HA HA!

Er, yeah.

Now this guy, El Dorado:

Okay, I had to grab these stills off of some Youtubed SF footage, and not from the show I watched, so I apologize for the quality. But as I was watching El Dorado in action, it sorta looked like that he had the superpower of having whatever superpower happened to be convenient at that moment. He can read minds, he was able to create armor around himself, and he was able to cast an illusion over Batman, making him look like Superman long enough to fool Darkseid into throwing the whole chunk of Gold Kryptonite at him.

However, El Dorado had the best line in the entire episode, as he summed up Darkseid like so few others have been able to:

"Darkseid is one tricky hombre."

Yes. Yes, indeed. God bless you and your wisdom, El Dorado.

A couple other things that shouldn't have surprised me, as I'm pretty sure I was aware of both of these things before, but clearly haven't thought about them in a while. For example, it was good to hear The Man himself, Adam West, voicing Batman. Even though they had him saying some ridiculous things throughout the course of this story, he can sell a Batman line like nobody else.

Also, looking at the credits, I spotted Geof Darrow's name...the same Geof Darrow who later brought us Hard Boiled, among others. Hey, if Alex Toth could do it....

I was completely wrong about this, but I swear to you, some of the background aliens in the auctions sequences early in the episode looked like they were drawn by Skip Williamson. That's one of the reasons I watched the credits so closely. I know, I know, that's the talk of a madman, but I wish I did have screenshots from this episode to prove that I'm not crazy for thinking so, I'm not.

Just now, I was looking up something else about this episode, and noticed that Rene Auberjonois voiced Desaad. "Clayton, nooooo!"

So anyway, Super Friends. I haven't sat through an episode of this in years, and this was, in fact, the first time I'd seen an episode from the Darkseid era of the show. And really, Firestorm's rock-solid 'n' unmoving flame-hair was very distracting:

I know it would have been a pain to animate, but c'mon, just look at it. It's like he's wearing a blooming flower hat.

But hey, the show was good for some laughs, and even in this somewhat lessened form, Darkseid is still Darkseid. More or less.

Monday, March 10, 2008

"...He sure as hell is angry, but he does have moves." 

Okay, I'm pretty sure someone else in the comicsweblogosphere has already covered this at some point, but I don't remember anyone doing so off the top of my head, and I'm not gonna check and see because I still want to post about it. Plus, I mentioned this comic to pal Dorian and Employee Aaron, and they were all "nuh uh," and I was all "yeah huh," so I'm gonna post it here just in case any of you out there hadn't heard about it or seen it either.

Anyhoo, Question #17 (June 1988, by Denny O'Neil, Denys Cowan, and Rick Magyar) features our hero in his civilian identity as Vic Sage, having boarded a plane flight after picking up some choice reading at the terminal newsstand.

And the reading material in question?

First off...sure, it's an in-story plug for one of DC's high profile projects...a fairly blatant one, even more so than that one from The Flash.

Second, of course Rorschach stands out to Vic Sage, since Vic's alter ego as the Question was a real-world inspiration to the Watchmen character's look.

Third, that certainly looks like Gibbons' art from that one promo image in the fourth panel. Moore and Gibbons aren't credited at the beginning of the comic with anything in this issue, but they are given a special "thank you." I wonder if either of them were even aware Rorschach went walkies into this book, and out of their control.

Anyway, Vic and his '80s hair start reading, and it's apparently compelling reading since he immediately nods off. And how tough of a guy is Vic Sage/The Question?

He provides hardboiled narration for his own descent into sleep, that's how tough.

He immediately jumps into dream-sleep, and he relives some previous tragedy in his dream, only with Vic in Rorschach's costume instead of his Question duds:

Vic wakes at that point, calling the experience "weird," which, okay, fair enough. He also reminds everyone to rush right out and buy the critically-acclaimed Watchmen trade paperback by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, now out in stores! And it makes a great gift! (Okay, he doesn't really say any of that, which I'm only saying to nip the "huh? That's not in my copy" comments in the bud.)

Later, after imbibing a little too much at the local gin joint while trying to drink a potential information source into giving up the goods, he finds himself in a fight with said source that Vic only just barely wins. The excitement and the drink get to be a bit much for him, so once he's back at the hotel:

Er, not that Rorschach would laugh. At anything. And you know, come to think of it, "Dead Air TV Static" is a good design for a pair of pants.

There is one more Rorschach reference in the book, after the Question gets the tar beat out of him again, and he's being driven off to some nefarious fate, he manages to moan out Rorschach's signature phrase:

And there you go. Question #17. Your Watchmen collection just isn't complete without it.

Next: those Captain Atom and Legion of Super-Heroes issues you need to complete your collection of Neil Gaiman's Sandman.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The awesome power of Being Lynda Carter. 

So I was doing a little restocking of the Battlestar Galactica back issues, and if I had to see this cover, so do you:

Also, I'm still a little annoyed (just a little, no big whoop) by the closeness of the logos for the comic book based on the original '70s TV series, and the comic based on the Sci-Fi Channel revival. Here's the '70s version:

And here's the "modern" version:

They're marginally different, but if you're going through a bunch of these at once, trying to keep them straight can be mildly problematic, particularly with the occasional cover featuring an unrecognizably-drawn character or two. And this is coming from someone who's watched both versions of the show...someone else more unfamiliar with the properties would likely find this just a tad more frustrating.

Again, it's not that big of a deal. Just a minor gripe, really. However, the series based on the original TV show is actually called Classic Battlestar Galactica, according to the indicia inside. We couldn't get a tiny "c l a s s i c" above the logo or anything?

(And yes, I know the cover illustrations should make it obvious which series is which. But they don't always...particularly when the old-style Cylons pop up on the covers of the modern-era series.)

In other news:
  • I mentioned on Thursday that nearly all our copies of last Wednesday's Cable #1 had loose centerfolds. I've since heard from a couple other stores that they had bunk copies of Cable #1 as well...along with some other Marvel books from that week. And I've noticed a copy or two of the new Clan Destine is a bit iffy as well.

    As long as it was just the one comic with a loose centerfold problem, there was a chance that maybe, just maybe, Marvel might produce replacements. But if it's more widespread than that, the likelihood that Marvel would essentially reissue a week's worth of new books is incredibly small. Maybe I'll be surprised, but I'm not betting on it.

  • I was going to cover a couple more points people have brought up about the Watchmen costumes, and just spent about twenty minutes fiddling with what I was going to post, and then I realized that, really, enough's enough. I think you all know where I'm coming from by now.

    But, I wanted to keep this next part of the post, just to remind everyone that Lynda Carter managed to make even this costume work:

    ...just through the awesome power of Being Lynda Carter. Huzzah!

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