mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"Mod special, extra long hair." 

full ad from Star Trek #51 (March 1978)
- click to make Trekkier

Friday, April 25, 2008

The things you find in old paperbacks. 

Superman party invitation card, circa early '70s(?)

FCBD Vs. eBay. 

Beginning to prep for the ever-approaching Free Comic Book Day, coming May 3rd. We were shorted our Gumby and Love & Capes FCBD comics, and the Nascar Heroes and Imaginary books have yet to ship to us. Here's a sentence I never imagined myself saying: "Boy, I hope those Nascar comics show up next week."

As in previous years, we divide up the free funnybooks into three age-appropriate bundles to hand out to equally age-appropriate customers: "Kids," "Teens," and "Grown-Ups." This year the books are all allegedly more "general audiences" than in past years, to avoid any more penis panics, but the three-pack distribution has worked well for us in the past, so we'd like to keep up the tradition. And there's still some necessary age sorting to do...I don't particularly want to give the Top Cow freebie to kids, and I'm just assuming the Wizard giveaway isn't for kids, since they haven't been yet.

Since the sorting is fairly time-intensive, we've got to get cracking early...but that also means when the missing or late FCBD books finally show up, we'll have to go through and dump them all in the bags after the fact, which is a little annoying. And, we'll only have a couple days to do it.

In addition to the bags, we'll have loose copies of all the freebies on our tables in the FCBD staging area at the front of the store, as well as leftovers from previous years. Plus, I've already spoken to some folks about providing leftover giveaways to schools and libraries.

We're using these FCBD comics for their intended purpose: promotion. Getting them into the hands of as many people as possible. Maybe...just maybe, getting a new reader or two out of it. Or getting old readers into something new. (I've discussed the apparent effectiveness of the event here.)

That said, here's a quick survey of 2008 Free Comic Book Day comics I've found on the eBay, current and ended auctions, as of this writing:
  • Multiple listings for "full sets" of all of this year's FCBD comics (one set sold for about $30)

  • One copy of this year's Marvel Adventures: Iron Man, Hulk, Spider-Man with a minimum bid of $7.99 (wholesale cost, by the way: 20 cents)

  • One copy of this year's Hellboy book, minimum bid about $2 U.S.

  • One copy of this year's Broken Trinity (Top Cow) book, minimum bid $2 U.S.

  • Two copies of this year's Sonic the Hedgehog book, sold for $2.50 and just over $3

There ain't no law sayin' they can't, but it still feels like a shame. At least it's just one or two books here and there, and not, say, case lots of FCBD books like I've seen in previous years. Hopefully the people selling these still have plenty more of them in stock to give away.

And I just looked at this next auction because I was wondering why a copy of the FCBD Ultimate Spider-Man #1, from a previous year, was listed at $24.95. Turns out the seller is also accepting "best offers." Given that other copies of the same book have sold for a penny (well, half a penny, in this case)...well, good luck.

Anyway, the auction that I actually wanted to draw your attention to is this one, and don't look at it if you're somewhere where web page sound is gonna be a problem.

So, did you look? "What th--!?" -- right? Startled the heck out of me. Here's the site responsible (sound, natch).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Progressive Ruin presents...the End of Civilization. 

One of these days, I'm going to wise up and stop doing these...you know, spend my time instead "going out" and "meeting friends" and "socializing" and doing other things that I've read about in books. But not today! Pull out your copy of Diamond Previews, May 2008 edition, and follow along! Invite your friends over, make a party out of it! Er...you do have friends, don't you?

You do?


p. 60 - Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Conversations with Dead People" Board:

Comes with this disclaimer:

Not stated: entertainment will be for your friends, when they see you buying into this ouija board crap.

p. 138 - JLA Trophy Room Bat-Cuffs Prop Replica:

These do lock, so don't lose your special "bat-shaped key." Otherwise, there'll be some red faces at the locksmith's after you or your significant other get trapped in these after a frolicking session of "Batman Catches Catwoman Mishandling the Jewels."

p. 239 - Bongo Comics:

Prepare yourself for this nightmare fuel:

You'll be seeing that face again...in your unquiet dreams.

p. 247 - Picture This SC:

Pictures of the colorist/letterer of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, as taken by the writer/artist of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose. Includes pictures of the Ms. G as Tarot. Note it doesn't say "dressed as" Tarot. (Further Not Safe for Work reading, if you need clarification.)

p. 297 - Michael Golden Heroes & Villains Sketchbook HC:

I wonder if it'll include this piece which recently wasn't sold on the eBay. (Link via Neilalien.)

p. 414 - Obsessed with Star Wars:

At $29.95, it seems pretty steep for a trivia book, but:

"...This comprehensive book features an innovative, computerized module embedded on the cover which allows readers to keep score electronically."

Oh, well, okay then.

p. 451 - Marvel Legends Mighty Muggs Figures:

There's a certain level of "cuteness" that particular Marvel characters must not achieve, lest some "cute event horizon" is passed and the world endangered.


p. 458 - Desperately Seeking Susan Minimates 2-Pack:

Looks even more lifelike than the actual Madonna.

p. 468 - Star Trek Ultimate 1/4-Scale Captain Kirk Figure:

C'mon, we're one fourth of the way there. Just go the whole hog, man...LIFE SIZE KIRK FIGURE. It's gonna happen, sooner or later.

p. 470 - Star Trek TOS Science Tricorder:

Lights up, and features sound effects from the show. When I was a kid, I had one of these...it only sorta looked like the tricorder from the show, but it was also a functioning tape recorder, and therefore a heck of a lot more useful than this newer "prop replica." Though...hmmm, maybe you can replace that monitor with a video iPod, which would also give you improved sound playback...maybe that can be a summer project for some of you more industrious kids out there. (And if you make it steampunk, it'll get you on Boing Boing!)

p. 475 - Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter Doll:

I am having a very hard time reconciling that face with the Mad Hatter we're all familiar with from Disney and the Tenniel drawings. Gaze into the face of madness:

He'll be visiting your dreams, along with "Grampa Rosie" Simpson from up there in the Bongo Comics listing.

At least there can't be anything more terrifying than this on the next page....

p. 476 - Alice in Wonderland Humpty Dumpty Doll:


p. 484 - Luke Cage Statues:

So there's the Classic Luke Cage on the left, there, and the Cage statue designed specifically for Brian Michael Bendis to buy on the right. That was nice of them.

p. 486 - Lord of the Rings Balrog Wall Mount:

Well, apparently enough people wanted a Balrog wall mount, but didn't want to spring for the larger one, which was approximately one whole city block in width. This one's 12 inches tall, 12 inches wide, 8 inches deep, and there's no measuring how deeply upsetting this thing is.

p. 518 - Lost Kubricks:

These are weirding me out, for no particular reason I can articulate. However, I do like that Locke comes with a big honkin' knife:

Not shown: his "Causing the death of everyone around him, plus causing the occasional explosion" action feature.

p. 518 - Lost Jack Kubrick and Bearbrick Set:

The bear threw me off for a second...and yes, that's the Lost logo on his tummy. For just the briefest moment, I actually tried to remember if there was an episode of Lost where Jack was being followed around by a giant bear that only he could see, like Harvey.

p. 522 - Prism Ark Priecia 1/8 Scale PVC Figure:

"Precia is thought to be the princess of Wind Land. She is enrolled in the knight school where she is widely known for her expert swordmanship as well as her beauty."

She's also widely known for almost wearing panties. She's from an "erotic video game," in case you were wondering.

The hair's neat, though.

p. 532 - Halo 3 Belt Buckles:

"Featuring Shotgun Ammunition or M6B AA Ammunition...."

Please, for the love of God, don't wear these to school or to an airport.

p. 534 - Chuck Norris Magnet Set:

Keeping up the Chuck Norris Facts Meme Deathwatch, as the Facts are slapped onto yet another product.

The solicitation text attempts another "Fact" -- to wit:

"...Chuck Norris can take two comic masters of magnetism, Magneto and Cosmic Boy in a fight. Because he's Chuck Norris."


p. 535 - Smallville Dar-Ur [sic] Kryptonian Beacon:

It's "Dax-Ur," actually, but it doesn't change the fact this is still a big ol' hunk of, presumably, metal that's of no use whatsoever. And apparently they're still trying to unload the Kryptonian Key, featured in a previous End of Civilization:

To repeat my previous observation, at $60 and $40 respectively, these are some expensive coasters.

p. 537 - Mr. Clock Radio:

"...The Mr. Clock Radio tells fortunes, speaks the time, and reacts to light and motion."

Also will absolutely terrify you. Not quite "uncanny valley" territory, since it doesn't look like an actual human, but darned if it's not close enough.

p. 555 - Yetisburg Titanic Battles in World History Volume 1 Card Game:

"On the bloody fields of Pennsylvania in 1863, two great armies collided to decide the fate of a nation. At the forefront of the battle stood the mighty Yetis, white-furred giants imported from the wilds of Canada to shred the opposing front lines."

Say it with me:


I can't even make fun of this. It's...it's too beautiful.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A whole lotta Shatner goin' on. 

By popular demand, a small selection of the many funnybook faces of James Tiberius Kirk:

from Star Trek #51 (Gold Key, March 1978) by George Kashdan & Alden McWilliams

from Star Trek #16 (Marvel Comics, Oct. 1981) by Marty Pasko, Luke McDonnell & Sal Trapani

from Star Trek #6 (DC Comics, July 1984) by Mike W. Barr, Tom Sutton & Sal Amendola

from Star Trek: Debt of Honor (DC Comics, 1992) by Chris Claremont, Adam Hughes & Karl Story

from Star Trek Unlimited #1 (Marvel Comics, Nov. 1996) by Dan Abnett, Ian Edginton,
Mark Buckingham & Kev F. Sutherland

from Star Trek: All of Me (DC Comics/Wildstorm, April 2000) by Tony Isabella, Bob Ingersoll,
Aaron Lopresti & Randy Emberlin

from Star Trek: The Manga #1 (Tokyopop, 2006) - sorry, didn't have the book in stock at the moment,
so the credits will come later

from Star Trek: Year Four #5 (Nov. 2007) by David Tischman & Steve Conley

ADDITIONAL TREKKING: Please, enjoy a little Ska Trek, courtesy Transbuddha.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This post meets or exceeds your recommended daily dosage of Shatner. 

I missed this in the New York con coverage, but Rich pointed it out to me...according to the Karen Berger herself, Swamp Thing spin-off title The Un-Men is cancelled. Alas, that didn't come as much of a surprise, since we sell all of two copies at the shop, one of which is to me. I thought it was pretty good, myself...it took a couple issues for me to get into it, but I've been appreciating the very dark humor at work in this series.

And to clarify my thoughts on The Spirit trailer I posted yesterday: I like how it looks, and it seems like it could be an entertaining, or at least interesting film, just judging from what little I've seen. The narration is...a tad over the top, yes, but if that comes as a surprise, you haven't been paying attention to what Frank Miller's been up to these last few years...or ever, if you get right down to it.

But none of it really says "The Spirit" to me. As Phill said in my comments, where's the color blue? I don't want a non-blue Spirit. Or a non-funny one, as I said yesterday. On the other hand, this is just the teaser trailer...we may be stuck with the "Sin City" look, but there's still a chance of some Spirit-esque whimsy making it into the flick.

Yeah, I know, that trailer really exudes whimsy. Hey, a boy can hope.

It's been reported all over the place, but the more people that see this story, the better: some scumbag stole art and interviews from an illustration site and republished them in a $100 book without permission. Unbelievable.

Artist Luc Latulippe has more on the story.

At the risk of repeating myself:

Why would you make this the "retailer incentive" cover (i.e. for every 10 or so of the regular cover ordered, you get one of these)? Do people not understand the sheer sales power of The Shat? Sure, he's all Romulaned up on that cover, but that's 100% Real Kirk, baby.

Monday, April 21, 2008

So long, Dave's Long Box

Dave Campbell is closing up shop at his much-beloved comics weblog Dave's Long Box, as only he can. Thanks, Dave, for all the laughs, peculiar videos, and for adding the word "Airwolf" to internet discourse.

Do not be sad, my little internet friends, for Dave continues to have a paying blogging gig at ABC.com -- he's paid to watch TV and then write about it; truly he's living the American dream -- and he promises to have a new more general-purpose blog launching in the near future.

Good luck, Dave, in your post-Longbox endeavors...I think I speak for most folks when I say I can't wait to see what you cook up for us next.


Dave's longtime friendly rival Chris Sims gloats grieves in his own inimitable manner.

In which I talk a lot about a convention I didn't even go to. 

So, I've been off for a week. What'd I miss?

Oh, okay, I know I missed a lot. There was that whole New York comic convention boondoggle over the weekend, which, from what little I managed to read about it, made that Wizard World con pal Dorian and I went to look like just a bunch of guys trading comics in a garage somewhere. Well, it is a little closer to the center of the American funnybook universe, so there's that.

A few of my blogging buddies attended the show, and have been updating over the weekend. I imagine we'll see more comprehensive reports once they recover (or, in Kevin's case, sober up), but Kevin Church has a brief wrap-up here, Chris Butcher has some photos and will speak about the con on NPR Monday morning (here's the show archive if you miss it), Johanna has run-downs of what she was getting up to Friday and Saturday, and Bully...

...Bully, the little stuffed bull what loves the comics was at the con all weekend, and here's the photographic proof. I think I just about died when I realized Bully was wearing a tiny backpack. Oh my goodness.

Bully also got shots of the Watchmen action figures, the Mike Sterling Memorial Comic Book Rack, and The Rack's Benjamin Birdie doing his Flash impression and Kevin Church doing what Kevin Church does best.

There are some little bits 'n' pieces of actual comic news from the New York con that I'd like to point out (with links to the Newsarama articles):
  • Dude, all you need to know from this Grant Morrison panel is this:


  • New ongoing Secret Six series, written by Gail Simone. Simone's previous Secret Six stuff was a lot of fun, and she somehow pulled off the miracle of making people interested in Cat Man, of all characters, so I'm really looking forward to this series.

  • "Marvel Apes?" Most folks' immediate reaction seems to be "we didn't like this when it was called 'JLApe' either." I mean, I'm all for more monkeys in my comics, but DC always struck me as your go-to company for primate funnybook action.

  • I like Frank Miller 'n' all, but I'm gonna need to see more of The Spirit movie before I can decide how I feel about this. The poster didn't help matters much, and while I like the look of the trailer:

    ...I'm hoping there's a bit more of a lighter touch in the actual film. I do appreciate that the trailer says "BASED ON THE COMIC BOOK" in BIG, BIG letters, though.

  • There's a new Supergirl comic aimed at younger readers supposedly forthcoming. Hopefully kids will still want a Supergirl comic, after DC did its best to drive away budding Supergirl fans with their regular offerings.

  • The best news out of the convention is that the Gordon Lee case has been dismissed, especially after the peculiar behavior of the prosecution the last time a trial was attempted. For more information, please check out the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund website.

In other news:
  • Speaking of Benjamin Birdie of The Rack fame...he now has his own fancypants website, located at, where else, Benjaminbirdie.com. Already he knocks it out of the park with the first of an ongoing series of posts discussing single pages from assorted comics (beginning with a sequence from Marvel Boy #4). Good, insightful reading, from someone who knows what he's talking about.

  • Regarding that terrifying post of mine from yesterday, reader Ironbear left a comment describing how the sound function on those toys worked:

    "The cool thing was the weird sound technology: the Patented Talking Tape was embossed plastic, attached at one end to the inflatable. The sound was embossed in the tape in thousands of grooves along the length of the tape. To play, you'd simply run a fingernail along the tape: the very lo-fi sound came out of the inflatable itself."

    Huh. I was pretty sure I hadn't heard of this, until I looked at this page about "talking tape" and suddenly it seems oddly familiar. I don't think I ever had anything that used this technology, but I must have heard about it at some point. Anyway, here's a short YouTube video demonstrating one of these talking tapes in action:

    Sorcery! SORCERY!

  • We received most of our order of Free Comic Book Day comics last week, with the balance to arrive this week. Haven't had much of a chance to go through too many of them, but the Hellboy one is nice -- all new stories, though the BPRD story is is for the Long-Term Fans Only. The EC Sampler is pretty cool, even if it only exists as an advertisement for the $50 EC Archives volumes, but it's hard to fault anything that gets old EC comics into the hands of kids. And the Archie entry is essentially a blatant ad for the Geppi comics museum.

    Also, I did my usual search on the eBay for people selling this year's new FCBD books, and, sure enough, there are a few folks out there desperately missing the point, who'd rather make a quick buck or two in the short term rather than take the chance of giving the comics away to someone who might become a regular reader.

    After the FCBD event is over, I'm...well, the market will out, I suppose, on the FCBD books, but I think selling them even after FCBD is over for the year is still missing an opportunity. We use them throughout the year, giving them to libraries, passing them out at the store, and so on. It's a great promotional tool, and it's a shame some folks don't see it that way.

    I may have more to say on FCBD this year, but if not, you can read previous musings on the topic here and here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Latex takes hard play!" 



ad from The Captain and the Kids #18 (1950)

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