mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I apologize in advance... 

...for this blogging flashback to, oh, 2004 or so:

...when double entendre Batman panels roamed the comics internet freely, and we all snickered at the thought of Superman being a jerk, or Batman and Robin touching each other in an overly-friendly fashion, or Wonder Woman doing something kinky, or whatever.

But, c'mon..."Batman and Robin must put on rubbers?" Obviously they mean rain gear...this can't even be taken out of context, as the inclement weather context is right there...but, seriously, I can use a cheap laugh right about now, and it doesn't get any cheaper than that.

image from Batman #89 (Feb 1955) - reprinted in Batman #233 (Jul/Aug 1971)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Swamp Things, and a correction. 

  • Guillermo del Toro, director of Hellboy II: The Golden Army (opening today in a theatre or on a plane near you) lists his many influences in this Entertainment Weekly article -- first one noted is the original Len Wein/Berni(e) Wrightson Swamp Thing series.

    Typo alert: article refers to the first Swamp Thing movie as a "misfire." I think they meant to type "work of genius." I'll look forward to the eventual correction.

  • Who could replace Martian Manhunter in the Justice League? Why, there's only one other big green fella who could....

    And to the anonymous commentator there who said he'd love to see Swamp Thing wearing a cape? BEHOLD this drawing given to me by Scott Saavedra nearly four years ago:

  • It's Fred Hembeck's FRED HEMBECK versus Steve Bissette's SWAMP THING (among other shenanigans) in this jam drawing presented by former FantaCo-ite Roger Green. (Be sure to read the lengthy description 'n' history of the piece...hopefully we'll get to see more of the artwork soon!)

  • I haven't posted enough Amazon.com links here lately, he said sarcastically, so here's another one for the just-over-the-horizon Swamp Thing TV Series Volume 2 DVD:

    Okay, I realize none of you are going to buy this, either through that link or not...I'm the only person sad enough to want to sit through...um, lemme check...oh Good Lord, 26 episodes of this. Here's a review from some other poor bastard who had to sit through it.

  • In honor of Hellboy II's release, someone's posted a short list of monstrous heroes. Included is Swamp Thing (in case you couldn't guess from the link's inclusion here), Harry from Harry and the Hendersons, and Savage Dragon. Huh.

  • Your random Swamp Thing news story reference for the day: right here:

    "In a classic horror comic series Swamp Thing, the namesake monster was a 'muck-encrusted mockery of a man,' a scientist who morphed into a slimy, green, vegetable-sprouting humanoid who lives in a bog.

    "Kingston Mills can now boast it has three swamp things - a muck-encrusted trio of hapless teenage boat thieves."

    Be sure to read the article for some classic examples of bad decision-making.

  • The Swamp Thing monster truck. Okay, not really anything to do with the Swamp Thing comic, but, hey, monster truck!

  • And here's some Swamp Thing art: a little something from Digital-Tutors;

    "A Swamp Thing Christmas" by Todd Klein for a 1976 issue of Rocket's Blast Comic Collector;

    This Myspace "thanks for adding me" pic that does terrible, terrible things with color to a completely innocent Swamp Thing cover...small pic here, big pic there:


    ...And Swamp Thing versus Little Shop of Horror's Audrey II. The internet justifies itself yet again.

Non-Swamp Thing addendum: it's been pointed out that, somehow, I botched the link to Jason Yungbluth's "Weapon Brown" strip in my Peanuts post. That's because I suck. It's since been corrected in my original post, and here's the link again. You can even buy your own paper 'n' staples copy of Weapon Zero in Mr. Yungbluth's online store, along with many other funny comics, prints, and other goodies.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The new comics are in today. TODAY. 

I did a brief (by necessity) Twitter review, but I'll say just a little more about the new Batman: Gotham Knights DVD. I thought it was okay, not as good as the previous DC direct-to-DVD animated efforts, but certainly better than some of Marvel's recent cartoons. Even at only an hour and fifteen minutes, it still felt a bit draggy in parts...I thought that bit with detectives Allen and Ramirez in the car went on for, what, an hour? Two? The action was nicely done, though, when Batman was actually on screen doing something. It's certainly pretty to look at.

My favorite segments were the first, with the group of kids each telling each other stories about meeting Batman...we've seen this on the Animated Series before, but it still works here, even if the ending is telegraphed a mile away; and the last segment, with Batman versus Deadshot...probably the most like the "traditional" Batman from the comics, unlike, say, "Super Anime Bruce" from one of the middle segments.

Despite that, I'm not down at all on the various visual interpretations of Batman in the film. I may have had a hard time buying that anime Bruce in the "Field Test" story, but the design of Batman in that segment was nice and creepy. Like I said...visually, it's a treat, but the pacing felt off to me. Maybe I'll give it another go, and see if it holds together a little better for me a second time.

I also forgot this was supposed to be set in the Batman Begins/The Dark Knight "universe" until the film version of Lucius Fox turns up. And, that guy at the far left in the still up there...did that look a bit like the Creeper to anyone else, or was it just me?

And hearing Batman's primary animation voice from the last few years, Kevin Conroy, coming out of those different versions of the character was a little disconcerting at first. Just had a hard time matching that up with my memories of the TV cartoons. But that counts as a "Mike problem," not a "DVD movie problem."

In other news:
  • Thanks for all the comments and suggestions on my post about what pal Andy called "Peanuts Futurism." This Achewood strip Max pointed out will depress you immensely.

  • Once again they're trying to make an Elfquest movie. Well, it's not my bag, but I know people dig this elf thing, and, the Pinis were nice when I met them, so hopefully this time will be the charm.


  • More to do with comics than comic books: thanks to a tip from Customer Glenn, I found that Amazon.com has the full George Carlin album Carlin on Campus for sale as an MP3 download for $0.89! The album's never been on CD, apparently, and this MP3 was obviously recorded from an LP...but it still sounds good, and saves me the trouble of recording from the vinyl myself.

    Anyway, I thought that was a great deal, and I have no idea how long it'll last, so I wanted to pass it along to you folks, if you were interested.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008





from Adventure #291 (Dec '61) by Jerry Siegel & John Forte
- reprinted in Superman #202 (Dec/Jan '61)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

If you know of more, add 'em in the comments. 

Sorry for the short post...been otherwise occupied. But yesterday's post (and great responses) got me to thinking of the possible fates of the Peanuts characters, so I thought I'd try to dig up a few links.

The first two are from yesterday's comments section:

Edward reminded me of "Weapon Brown" by Jason Yungbluth, which was the strip that first attracted me to his Deep Fried comic. More a parody than a "fate of the characters," but I thought I'd mention it here anyhow, since "Weapon Brown" is a swell comic.

Scott points to bit of writing by Peter Gillis on the fates of the Peanuts characters. I'm particularly touched by Snoopy's story.

Kaos2000 takes the slightly more crass route. Also postulates a C. Brown/L. Van Pelt marriage.

Eric Schwartz wrote a song called "Charliesomething" that used to pop up on the Dr. Demento show. Here are the lyrics, and apparently Rhapsody gives you a limited amount of free plays if you're not a member, so here's their "Charliesomething" page. I should note that when I tried to listen, the playback failed about 2/3rds of the way through.

Here's a newspaper review of "Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead" that looks at the Peanuts gang's high school years. I hadn't heard of this before, but some extra Googling turns up news 'n' reviews a'plenty, and the play's script is available on Amazon. Wow, just what little I've read about it makes me want to see it.

And of course, as expected, Charlie Brown grew up to be an ineffectual super-villain. (You thank Tony Isabella right now for making this happen in his Hawkman run. The Kite-Eating Tree even gets Chuck!)

And this has nothing to do with the fates of the Peanuts characters...I just like seeing Snoopy going "BLEAH!" at everyone:

Monday, July 07, 2008

The most horrible thing done to Charlie Brown by Lucy in The Complete Peanuts 1967-1968


Lucy: "Charlie Brown, how does it feel to know that you will never be a hero?"


Charlie Brown: "What makes you think I'll never be a hero? I may surprise you! I may save a life or report a fire or do almost anything!"



Charlie Brown: "Terrible!"

I'm reasonably certain I've read this strip before...though if it turns out this is one of those "never reprinted before" strips I'm going to look pretty silly saying that. At any rate, my reading of this latest volume came to a brief halt at this point, as this seemed particularly evil for Lucy in a way that, I think, I never realized before. Even by typical standards of Peanuts cruelty, this seemed awfully harsh...Lucy digging deep into Charlie Brown's soul, forcing him to admit to her and to himself that he will never come to anything. That seems more painful than a hundred pulled-away footballs.

It certainly contrasts with a strip a few pages later, with Lucy telling Snoopy that sometimes she's bugged by him, sometimes she wants to hug him...and sure enough, there's a quiet panel of Lucy simply hugging Snoopy. I'm not going to write an essay about Charles Schulz's views of human interaction, the inherent contradictions re: kindness versus cruelty, etc. -- you know all that already. I just saw the portrayals of Lucy in these two strips as yet another demonstration of Schulz's skill at creating a multifaceted personality that we can easily accept as an approximation of reality.

Plus, does anyone else get the feeling that when Charlie Brown and Lucy grew up, they were totally going to marry each other? Or am I alone here?

On a slightly related note, I think this is about as cynical as Snoopy ever got, in regards to his lot in life:

Now that's bitter.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Blogging about blog ads is a sin. (Don't worry, it's not a sales pitch.) 

So reader Chance let me know that an ad for some "sexy webchat" site, featuring a photo of a bikini-clad lady's bottom, turned up in my Project Wonderful ads in the sidebar yesterday. I don't normally reload my page during the day, and my Project Wonderful ads are set to "auto-approve," but I do read my comments via e-mail notification, so thanks to Chance for the warning. That ad just seemed a little out of character for my site, here, so apologies to anyone turned off by it.

As I said, I just have Project Wonderful auto-approve my ads, as for whatever reason, there are a number of advertisers who place ads for two or three hours at a time, and I'd rather not be logging into PW and manually-approving ad requests every hour. I've now set my preferences there to reject Not Safe For Work ads, but I'll try to monitor the ads a little more closely in the future.

In other news:
  • Out in your finer stores this past Wednesday:

    It's been years since we've had a newsstand presence for Mr. Snart and his creator, Marc Hansen...Ralph Snart has had an online strip for a while, all of which have since been printed in book form and available from said finer stores, as well as from Mr. Hansen himself at his site.

    I didn't follow the online adventures, simply because I have a hard time keeping up with online comic strips, period (except, of course, for America's only comic store strip). And we carried all the online strip reprint books, but for whatever reason, I didn't pick any of them up. Can't tell you why, exactly...maybe I didn't just feel like jumping back into a comic I hadn't read in years by picking up trade paperbacks. Who knows?

    Well, after reading this new issue, I have refound my Snart love and will be obtaining those trades in short order. It's just as grotesque and immature and hilarious as I remember, and it's good to have it back, even if just for a three issue series. No one draws twisted, distended musculature quite like Hansen, and his linework is immaculate. As are the beer and vomit jokes. Ah, good times.

  • Following up on all my Cat from Outer Space talk from a couple of weeks ago, pal Dorian presents, as part of his ongoing Paperback Book Club series, a copy of the Cat from Outer Space novelization. Boy, that brings back some memories.

  • The shocking return of...Licensable Bear™ - BEHOLD:

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