mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Also, the Cube's enjoyment of the Twinkie appears purely tactile. 

Employee Aaron: "Hey, check out this Hostess ad!"

Me: "What about it?"

Employee Aaron: "Captain America uses Twinkies to distract the Cosmic Cube."

Me: "No kiddin'."

Employee Aaron: "No, really, check it out! See, the Cosmic Cube is even thinking about the Twinkie's cream filling."

Me: "Now, given the Cosmic Cube is all-powerful, it could just create its own Twinkies stash, right? It doesn't need Cap as a Twinkie source."

Employee Aaron: "Uh..."

Me: "That's probably not the part of the strip I should stop suspending my disbelief over, is it?"

Yes, I know Seanbaby got to it already.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sexual harassment at the San Diego Comic Con. 

Bully's friend John is a friend of mine as well, and he asked that I help get the word out by crossposting this essay he wrote about some upsetting observations he made at the last San Diego Comic Convention.

His original post is here, along with links to more of John's friends who are helping out.

Overheard at San Diego Comic-Con while I was having lunch on the balcony of the Convention Center on Sunday July 27: a bunch of guys looking at the digital photos on the camera of another, while he narrated: "These were the Ghostbusters girls. That one, I grabbed her ass, 'cause I wanted to see what her reaction was." This was only one example of several instances of harassment, stalking or assault that I saw at San Diego this time.

1. One of my friends was working at a con booth selling books. She was stalked by a man who came to her booth several times, pestering her to get together for a date that night. One of her co-workers chased him off the final time.

2. On Friday, just before the show closed, this same woman was closing up her tables when a group of four men came to her booth, started taking photographs of her, telling her she was the "prettiest girl at the con." They they entered the booth, started hugging and kissing her and taking photographs of themselves doing so. She was confused and scared, but they left quickly after doing that.

3. Another friend of mine, a woman running her own booth: on Friday a man came to her booth and openly criticized her drawing ability and sense of design. Reports from others in the same section of the floor confirmed he'd targeted several women with the same sort of abuse and criticism.

Quite simply, this behavior has got to stop at Comic-Con. It should never be a sort of place where anyone, man or woman, feels unsafe or attacked either verbally or physically in any shape or form. There are those, sadly, who get off on this sort of behavior and assault, whether it's to professional booth models, cosplayers or costumed women, or women who are just there to work. This is not acceptable behavior under any circumstance, no matter what you look like or how you're dressed, whether you are in a Princess Leia slave girl outfit or business casual for running your booth.

On Saturday, the day after the second event I described above, I pulled out my convention book to investigate what you can do and who you can speak to after such an occurrence. On page two of the book there is a large grey box outlining "Convention Policies," which contain rules against smoking, live animals, wheeled handcarts, recording at video presentations, drawing or aiming your replica weapon, and giving your badge to others. There is nothing about attendee-to-attendee personal behavior.

Page three of the book contains a "Where Is It?" guide to specific Comic-Con events and services. There's no general information room or desk listed, nor is there a contact location for security, so I go to the Guest Relations Desk. I speak to a volunteer manning the desk; she's sympathetic to the situation but who doesn't have a clear answer to my question: "What's Comic-Con's policy and method of dealing with complaints about harassment?" She directs me to the nearest security guard, who is also sympathetic listening to my reports, but short of the women wanting to report the incidents with the names of their harassers, there's little that can be done.

"I understand that," I tell them both, "but what I'm asking is more hypothetical and informational: if there is a set Comic-Con policy on harassment and physical and verbal abuse on Con attendees and exhibitors, and if so, what's the specific procedure by which someone should report it, and specifically where should they go?" But this wasn't a question either could answer.

So, according to published con policy, there is no tolerance for smoking, drawn weapons, personal pages or selling bootleg videos on the floor, and these rules are written down in black and white in the con booklet. There is not a word in the written rules about harassment or the like. I would like to see something like "Comic-Con has zero tolerance for harassment or violence against any of our attendees or exhibitors. Please report instances to a security guard or the Con Office in room XXX."

The first step to preventing such harassment is giving its victims the knowledge that they can safely and swiftly report such instances to someone in authority. Having no published guideline, and indeed being unable to give a clear answer to questions about it, gives harassment and violence one more red-tape loophole to hide behind.

I enjoyed Comic-Con. I'm looking forward to coming back next year. So, in fact, are the two women whose experiences I've retold above. Aside from those instances, they had a good time at the show. But those instances of harassment shouldn't have happened at all, and that they did under no clear-cut instructions about what to do sadly invites the continuation of such behavior, or even worse.

I don't understand why there's no such written policy about what is not tolerated and what to do when this happens. Is there anyone at Comic-Con able to explain this? Does a similar written policy exist in the booklets for other conventions (SF, comics or otherwise) that could be used as a model? Can it be adapted or adapted, and enforced, for Comic-Con? As the leading event of the comics and pop culture world, Comic-Con should work to make everyone who attends feel comfortable and safe.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oh, and by the way... 

...if you were to look at the back pages of Fall of Cthulhu: God War #1, new this week from Boom! Studios, you will see a brief interview (and a fantastic photo) of Boom's new boy editor pal Ian.

Sometimes you just gotta say... 


Not that anyone needs a reason to cheer Batman, but these folks are cheering him specifically for making a successful strike against the bad guys during the Millennium crossover event. When his actions are explained to Superman, his response to Batman is "Really? You did that?"

Batman then says, humbly

"I only had a hand in it--!"

However, he's thinking

"But I can't deny that I'm glad you had none!"

Phew! Professional jealousy much? I know this is from the period just following the Superman revamp, when it was decided that, after years of being buddy-buddy, Batman and Superman would now have a more antagonistic relationship. (I'm assuming that's what this is an example of in the described Millennium sequence, and not some kind of in-story plot point that I'm not recalling.) I think of all the mid-'80s revamps and restarts and other changes, that's the bit of business I had the hardest time accepting. I liked Batman and Superman being best pals, and having adventures together every month in World's Finest.

Come to think of it, that's probably one of the most lingering, most pervasive changes to come out of DC's 1980s revamp-mania: Batman becoming a more solitary, more pain-in-the-neck, more competent-than-thou character, at first primarily to Superman, then eventually to pretty much everybody else in the DCU.

They've been trying to slowly reverse that over the years, along with most of the rest of the mid-'80s editorial decisions, including having Superman and Batman on monthly adventures together again. It ain't World's Finest, quite yet, and while there's still a bit of an edge to their relationship, I still prefer it to the characters not being pals at all.

I realize this is a grown man writing about how he likes Superman and Batman being buddies. Hey, I'm not bitter and sarcastic about everything.

And yes, I know they're pals in the new Super Friends kids comic. Everyone's pals in the Super Friends comic!

Image from Millennium #5 (1987) by Steve Englehart, Joe Staton & Ian Gibson - mini-series now currently available in trade paperback from your finer funnybook stores

In other news:
  • Remember a couple of days ago, when I was grumbling a little about Gemstone putting out new issues of Walt Disney's Comics and Uncle Scrooge the week after the previous issues were released, in an attempt to catch up on their publishing schedule? Well, Diamond sort of addressed the issue for us, by shorting us our Uncle Scrooges. "Be careful what you wish for" is the lesson learned, I suppose.

  • Chris Sims talks smart about the Joker...what made the Joker the main Batman villain?

  • If they're going to let me into this site, then I'd better get cracking scanning and logging my mini-comics work!

  • We sold out of Tales Designed to Thrizzle #4. Must order more Thrizzle. THRIZZLE US, COMICS DISTRIBUTOR.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I can't believe this is even being argued about. 

I'll try to keep this brief:

Here is the point of this post made by Kevin Church:

Telling your customer base in an store marketing e-mail to not buy comics that you, presumably, have ordered and are going to stock at your shop is not a good idea.

And that's it.

Seems pretty self-evident to me....and it must be self-evident, as the folks in Kevin's comments section, and elsewhere, who are arguing against Kevin are doing so by bringing up things that have nothing to do with his original point. And trying to steer 'em back to that point doesn't seem to do any good.

Yeah, I know, "ARGUING ON THE INTERNET - BAD WASTE OF TIME, OR WORST WASTE OF TIME?" I even lost my temper a bit, unfortunately, since the boneheadedness of some of those folks finally got to me. I even used a swear, OH NOES, which allegedly drove one person away, coincidentally saving him the embarrassment of actually having to address the real argument once it was laid out for him.

Look, if you want to argue Kevin's actual point, fine. If you think retailers should broadcast a "DON'T BUY THIS COMIC" message to their entire customer base, even if it costs them sales, fine. But don't bring in a bunch of extraneous shit that only proves that 1) you can't read, or 2) you can't address the actual argument.


EDIT: Bill D. sums it up, without being a potty mouth like me.

EDIT 2: And I'm done talking about this. I can only say the same thing so many times, and while most people get the point, some never will. If you still feel like arguing...here you go.

Here's something a little more fun, hopefully...a brief fight scene from the forthcoming Spirit movie, taken from the San Diego Comic Con:

I suspect this may not stay online long, so if it vanishes, just look around and I'm sure it'll turn up again.

I think it's kind of entertaining, actually...parts of it even look like it came straight from Eisner's pen. This certainly makes me feel better about the film than the "Remember Sin City?" trailers we've seen so far. Don't know if I'm entirely sold on seeing the Octupus' normally hidden face on-screen...but hey, if you've got a Samuel Jackson in your flick, you're gonna show him off.

EDIT: Whoops! And there goes the video. Ah, well...nice while it lasted.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

For Chris Sims' birthday... 

...a Kick to the Face from Swamp Thing #10 (May/June 1974):

Happy birthday, oh Invincible One.

And now, for no good reason... 

...other than wanting to see some Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez art on the site, here are Superman and the Joker hanging out at Venice Beach:

Also, Always Remember:


images from DC Comics Presents #41 (Jan. 1982)
by Marty Pasko, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, and Frank McLaughlin
...yes, someone named McLaughlin inked this Joker story

Monday, August 11, 2008

Prepare for your immediate thrizzling. 

All you need to know about the new comics coming in this week:

My conversation with New Employee Tim regarding the imminent release of Tales Designed to Thrizzle #4:

Tim: "What's it about?"

Me: "There's no easy answer to that."

Tim: "Well, what genre is it?"

Me: "It is its own genre."

Other items coming to us from Diamond this week:
  • Absolute League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier - apparently still missing the long-promised record which is going to bum out one of my customers who wanted this book. "I'm very disappointed," he'll say to me, and I'll collapse to the ground, crying, right there next to the anime magazines.

  • Beatles Collectors Edition Monopoly - don't look at me like that, it's a special order. Anyway, sooner or later we're all gonna have our own personalized Monopoly sets. (Chris Sims Monopoly: "Get Kicked in the Face. Get Kicked Directly in the Face. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200.")

  • Death Note Misa Amane Straightjacket Version Action Figure - one hundred fifty smackers. Oh thank God it's a special order.

  • Fall of Cthulhu: Godwar #1 - I've been enjoying this series from Boom! Studios, which gives us some threads of continuity from story to story, instead of several self-contained Lovecraftan horror shorts. (Ew, "horror shorts" -- I had to wear a pair of those in gym class.) Not that there's anything wrong with their short story anthologies...Cthulhu Tales #4 is also due this week.

  • Fangoria #276 - get a copy in every month (or so), and it always sells. Probably to the same guy. I'm not even sure to whom we sell it...I just know it gets sold.

  • Galaxy Quest: Global Warning #1 - kinda curious how this will do. It surprised me that someone pursued the comics license for the Galaxy Quest film...just never occurred to me that we needed to see more adventures of those characters. Guess I was wrong.

  • Helen Killer #4 - Still never got my copy of #2 that Diamond shorted us. Someone remind me to order a copy direct from the publisher while they still have 'em.

  • "I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space!" - oh, and by complete coincidence, issue #2 of a comic by that very same name is coming out this week.

  • Judge Dredd Complete Case Files Vol. 10 - These are great books filled with classic material, and would probably be consistent sellers if any of them were ever reorderable on a consistent basis. (I think I managed to get another copy of volume 5 or 6 in once.)

  • Lone Ranger #12 - oh, yeah, that's right...there was a Lone Ranger comic coming out for a while, wasn't there?

  • Millennium TP - a reprinting of DC's crossover event that featured an invasion of alien imposters who infiltrated the personal and superheroic lives of their characters, taking advantage of Marvel's current crossover event which features an invasion of alien imposters who infiltrated the personal and superheroic lives of their characters.

  • Marvel Adventures: Hulk #14 - those of you (Rick) jonesing for more Peter David-written Hulk comics...here you go. Yeah, I know, "but it's a kids comic, it doesn't count, blah blah blah." It's still fun stuff...you'll live, fanboy.

  • Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe - a rerelease with a "skull variant" that I haven't seen yet, but then I haven't exactly gone looking for it, either. Anyway, this is one of our most requested backlist items from Marvel, and I'm glad it's available again...at least for a little bit, anyway.

  • Secret Invasion #5 is joined on the rack by no less than four new Secret Invasion tie-in minis: SI: Thor, SI: Inhumans, SI: Runaways/Young Avengers, and SI: X-Men...and not to mention Captain Britain #4 is a tie-in issue as well. Goodness.

  • Sergio Aragones' Actions Speak - it's a reordered item, not a new one...and I have to reorder this on a pretty regular basis. Shame the companion series to this one, Louder Than Words, is out of print, and has been for quite a while.

  • Sonic the Hedgehog #191 - I can't believe this is still coming out. One hundred ninety-one issues...that over six times as many as the last Swamp Thing series. That's 20 more than the Swamp Thing series prior to the one prior to that last Swamp Thing series. What a world, what a world.

  • Tales Designed to Thrizzle #4 - have I mentioned this is coming out? It's coming out.

  • So, one week after getting Uncle Scrooge #377, Walt Disney's Comics #692, and the Vacation Special, we're getting new issues of Scrooge and WDC&S. On one hand...at least they're catching up, since they're way behind schedule. On the other hand...I'm sure our Disney fans at our shop will enjoy dishing out an extra $16 this month to accommodate Gemstone's publishing problems.

  • At long last, it's our replacement Watchmen books that got lost a couple of weeks back! Why, I remember when we had people practically knocking the door down trying to find copies of this after seeing the trailer.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

In which I reach a serious level of perversity in regards to Watchmen film merchandise. 

One of the unintended consequences of running my Things Not to Say... mini-comic a couple of days ago is that I am now getting people feeding me the "I'm very disappointed" line both in my comments sections and at the shop (and I'm totally looking at you, Brandon from the game store next door).

And, you know, that's fine. So long as you all can deal with the guilt when I finally snap and wreak havoc throughout the county and strike terror into the hearts of its denizens, starting with poor, innocent Employee Aaron.

Anyhoo, I'm glad you all seemed to enjoy (or at least tolerate) some of my old mini-comics work. You can see a fuzzy scan of the cover of the print edition of Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin in my first anniversary post, which also has a reproduction of a letter of comment I wrote as a 12 year old, but feel free to skip that. But there's a little more detail regarding our comics-publishing concern there, if you're interested. And if you want to see another strip I did from those days, I posted one here three years ago...be sure to click the "page two" link for...the rest of the story.

In other (well, mostly store-related) news:
  • Watchmen appears to be available, or at least orderable, from our distributor again. But now Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is out of stock. ARGH!

  • Spent some time over the last day or so swapping out some of the promo posters from the wall and in the window...it's always best to get those posters out of the window before they all turn the same shade of blue. I also went through our section of posters intended for retail sale and did a little maintenance, and noticed a few things:

    1. Whoo boy, nobody wants that "Brand New Day" Spider-Man/Wolverine poster.

    2. ...But that "Iron Man in space" poster by Joe Quesada did very well. Thanks, popular and surprisingly-good movie!

    3. COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS WE DON'T NEED ANY MORE POSTERS OF: The Fantastic Four. Okay, maybe more solo ones of the Thing. And I realize there are a lot more posters out there of, say, Spider-Man, but Spidey posters generally sell (the poster in point 1 excepted). FF posters, not so much.

    4. Oh good gravy, we still have that damned New Warriors poster from the early '90s? And I actually put it in the poster rack for display? "HELLO COME LOOK AT MY ALBATROSS HANGING IN THE POSTER RACK RATHER THAN AROUND MY NECK."

    5. I think we may be past the "sell-by" date on the couple of Matrix posters we have left.

    6. Now I'm wondering what sort of Watchmen posters we'll get as part of the movie merchandising push. These ones, for sure, but maybe we'll get a nice shot of Rorschach, hands on his hips, standing heroically, chest and chin thrust out, and a big blocky "RORSCHACH" logo across the poster's bottom edge. Or maybe he can be throwing a punch at the viewer. Basically, I want the same type of posters that we got with 1997's Batman and Robin.

  • Speaking of Watchmen merchandise, it occurred to me that we're going to get the inevitable trading card set based on the film, and that it'll likely feature those peculiar "own a piece of the prop/costume" cards that feature a small piece of said prop/costume cut out and embedded into the card. Dr. Manhattan's costume cards would have to be entirely from the flashbacks ("Congratulations! You are the proud owner of a piece of Dr. Manhattan's 'plum-smugglers' from the Warner Bros. film 'Watchmen'").*

    I thought it'd be neat if they could come up with a way to make special "Rorschach" chase cards, with a layer of black liquid floating between two thin semi-translucent pieces of white plastic...but of course, it probably wouldn't take much for one of those to break, damaging other cards in the pack/box. Maybe some kind of heat-sensitive card...a close of up Rorschach's mask, that looks blank until you apply some heat to it and the black patterns begin to show up.

    This is what I think about when I really should be thinking about something else. Anything else.

  • Also, judging by reaction to the idea Kid Chris and I had about a Mario Kart-style Watchmen racing game...there ain't nobody who doesn't want that game. "Ain't anybody?" Well, you know what I mean...the people have spoken, and they want Giant-Headed Silk Spectre and Dr. Manhattan 'n' so on in their little race cars. Who could blame them?

* Okay, Dr. Manhattan's costumes, such as they are, will likely be computer-generated, too. Unless the actor will be wearing the costume, and the "Dr. Manhattan" effect will be added to his body after the fact, or...I'm thinking too much about this.

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