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Crazy-ass Comic Crossover Corner presents…

§ January 31st, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off

…Captain Atom, Red Tornado and Swamp Thing versus the Black Racer:


from Captain Atom #17 (July 1988)
by Cary Bates, Greg Weisman, Pat Broderick & Bob Smith

This would be Reason #2569 why I want Swamp Thing back in the regular DC Universe: more stuff like the above.

"Shark’s tooth pendant, give me power!"

§ January 30th, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized § 3 Comments


ad from Saga of the Swamp Thing #5 (Sept. 1982)


1. Gaff didn’t really do much, did he? Stupid bird.

2. I hope no one actually tried to do any of this once they got their shark tooth pendant.

3. I’m going to resist the “Village People” joke.

4. “For you, your crew, and your country” — “your” country, not “our.” Is Sgt. Shark…a man without a country? Or does he owe his allegiance to some foreign power?

5. How’d the parrot lose an eye? Surely not a shark attack — that probably would have taken the entire head — though that would explain Gaff’s reluctance to join the “adventure.”

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ January 29th, 2009 § Filed under End of Civilization Comments Off

Hey, man, I was ending civilization before it was cool. Now I look at the headlines in one of the few newspapers that are left, and it looks like everyone’s getting in on my action. Ah, well. The more the merrier, I suppose. Fiddle along with me as we see a little bit of Rome burn away within the February 2009 edition of Diamond Previews:

p. 196 – Cerebus Archive #1:


Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed Cerebus. I plan on buying this new series featuring early work by Dave Sim, background material on the creation of Cerebus, etc. But the zombie cover variant? After doing a handful of them for his other project Glamourpuss, I think we’ve got the joke by now. The $15 retail price joke.

But the worst part? The zombie variant for this series looks awesome. Dangit.

p. 344 – The Desktop Heads of Easter Island:


Apparently these were made by very tiny alien beings.

p. 372 – Indiana Jones Sallah Mighty Muggs figure:


Now let us picture John Rhys-Davies in a skin-tight white suit, as demonstrated here.

p. 382 – Terminator 2 Series 1 Minimate Assortment:


Totally gets points for including the explody “liquid metal” version of the T-1000.

p. 387 – Star Trek Movie Electronic Communicator:


So this is what they’re going to look like in that new, revamped Star Trek movie, hm? Sort of an interesting design dilemma, trying to evoke the look of the original TV series, while simultaneously trying to appear more futuristic than our modern day, ubiquitous cellphones, which themselves are at least in part inspired by the original show while also being far more advanced in many ways than what those old props were supposed to represent.

However, this communicator toy has it all over cellphones, what with the included lenticular Kirk/Spock sticker inside. ADVANTAGE: ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATOR.

p. 393 – Giger’s Alien 1:1 Lifesize Statue:


Sweet dear holy God in heaven. It’s almost eight feet tall, it’s bottom-lit through the “floor grid” base, and you can move the arms so that they’re sticking out in from of the Alien, like he’s grabbing for you. Good for keeping around the house if you want to occasionally scare the living bejeebers out of yourself.

Also, out of curiosity, I checked the retailer order details on this item…the net cost on this is several thousand dollars, and apparently it would be delivered to us in five large boxes. Some assembly required, my friends.

p. 398 – (Offered again) Lord of the Rings Balrog Monument:


As first featured in this post, the $2000 four foot wide limited Balrog has been relisted for more orders in this month’s Previews. Oddly enough, it didn’t sell out the first time.

p. 400 – Kurse Mini-bust:


Mixed feelings: “a Kurse bust…really?” versus “oh man, a Walt Simonson-era Thor character statue!”

BONUS: Statue is also a Secret Wars II tie-in.

p. 404 – Back to the Future Marty McFly Hat Replica:


I thought for sure this was some kind of Hypercolor-esque thing, but apparently it’s just “ultra-refractive fabrics” that make up the hat.

Really, when was the last time you thought about Hypercolor? (I couldn’t even remember the name, until Kid Chris reminded me.)

p. 408 – Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi Bronze Bust:


Only $1,500. Probably would have immensely irritated Sir Alec.

p. 416 – Broken Heart Doll Plushies:


“Aarrchie was the sickest bass player around, but all he got was a lousy photo op with Green Day’s Billie Joe and one free drink ticket.”

“Wolfgang thought he hit the jackpot with the ladies with the screen name ‘just10timbrl8k,’ but things always took a rapid dive when finally showed them his picture.”

Emo pillows with backstories. Well, sure, why not.

p. 438-9 – Joker masks:

I can’t decide which is most terrifying…the Joker masks based on the recent Dark Knight movie:


…or this classic look Joker:


Any of these would be perfect for your social gathering or church event.

p. 444 – Star Wars Trooper Fine Art Print:


Today’s winning entry in the “Self-Canceling Phrase” contest is….

p. 445 – Watchmen Rorschach Beanie Mask:


Well, surely this is going to bite into the sales of all those homemade Rorschach masks on the eBay.

p. 446 – Watchmen Rorschach Desk Blotter:


A desk blotter with “ink” splashed upon it to resemble Rorschach’s mask, with the Rorschach logo. $29.99. I don’t have a joke for this, or even a smart alecky comment. I’m just puzzled, mostly.

p. 447 – Watchmen Rorschach Pennant:


“Rah rah! Chop that dog! Go team Rorschach!”

There are four pages of Watchmen merchandise in this catalog. They’re just seriously slapping Watchmen characters onto anything that’ll take an image.

Marvel Previews p. 7 – X-Men Legacy #223 70th Anniversary Cover:


Why is Marvel Girl throwing gang signs at me?

Marvel Previews p. 79 – Marvel Minimates Series 28 – Wolverine Movie Assortment:


Hey, I had no idea Marlon Brando was in this movie. I’m totally seeing it now.

Marvel Previews p. 94 – Spider-Man Torment Premiere HC:


At last, a deluxe collection of what may possibly be the most common Spider-Man comics ever published. Good, I was worried there weren’t enough copies of this story already in existence.

Tip o’the toupee to pal Sean for the Brando joke.

I wonder what "SKUL" was.

§ January 28th, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off

The ad as it appeared in Saga of the Swamp Thing #2 (June 1982), sans name and address since I’m paranoid about that sort of thing:


And then in Saga of the Swamp Thing #3 (July 1982):


Not sure if the person who placed the ad arranged for the relettering, or if someone at the people who processed the ads took pity and did it for him. But now that most folks have access to computers and word processing and/or art programs, you don’t see a whole lot of sloppily-handwritten ads appearing in nationally-distributed, professionally-published comic books any more. Too bad…there’s a kind of charm to the first version of that ad that would be lost in 24-pt. Helvetica bold. (Or in Comics Sans, yes, yes, I know.)

EDIT: London Loves Comics covered this as well.

Because sometimes you just need pictures of Swamp Thing fighting a giant purple monster version of Arcane wielding a sword.

§ January 27th, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off


from Swamp Thing Annual #1 (1982) by Bruce Jones, Mark Texiera & Tony DeZuniga
(adapting the first Swamp Thing film)


I’m occasionally reminded that, as oddball as the sequel was, the first Swamp Thing film was sort of mind-boggling in its own charming way.

"No more questions, please…no more questions."

§ January 26th, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off

  • The big news from the last week is of course Diamond, the industry’s primary distributor, raising minimum order levels for publishers. You can’t meet Diamond’s cutoff, Diamond ain’t gonna carry you. That link has a smattering of initial reactions to the decision, which seems to be bad news for the small press publishers. My first thought is that we’re going to see even more folks following the “multiple cover” cover for all their publications to get those orders inflated over the minimum threshold.

    Anyway, it’s going to be an interesting time in the industry for the foreseeable future…”interesting” as in the “may you live in interesting times” sense.

  • More signs of the (interesting) times: cutbacks at Warner Brothers knock Mad Magazine down to a quarterly publication. It’ll have a slight page count increase, a price increase to $5.99, and let’s hope things improve in short order because I don’t know that I want to experience a world without Mad Magazine.

    I like how one of the people in the comments section say that Mad should just turn into a full-on comic book, rather than stay in the magazine format. Boy, talk about kicking someone while he’s down…it’s that magazine format that’s getting on shelves of places that aren’t comic book stores!

  • When I answered the question of “which canceled comic would you bring back?” with Jupiter by Jason Sandberg, I should have noted that Mr. Sandberg is still producing art…just not of the comic bookian sort. Visit his site at jasonsandberg.com and see what he’s gettin’ up to.
  • Kevin Church has invited his readers to cook up one sentence pitches for currently existing comic book characters/series, and has had several amusing entries so far. I thought I had a pretty good one, but was immediately shown up by the entry that appeared after mine…so you’ll just have to go look and see.
  • That Amazing Spider-Man with President Obama is getting a fourth printing. Oh good gravy. I am still experiencing demand for this comic at the shop, though where before most people didn’t care what printing they got, I’m now getting an increase in slightly-panicked requests for first printings. I’m getting e-mails, I’m getting out-of-state phone calls…people are getting desperate for first printings on this.
  • Not Blog X wraps up its epic length look at the X-Men “Onslaught” event, with some discussion of the series’ impact on the franchise. Those of you who’ve expressed interest in my discussion of the boom ‘n’ bust period of the comics industry will find this of interest.
  • Added another name to the burgeoning ranks of the Associated Comics and Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA and Outlying Environs: pal Dana (kid sister of former employee Nathan) at I’d Love to Stay Here and Be Normal. Drop in and say hello.

    In other ACAPCWOVCCAOE news, pal Sean updated his site just recently, too. Now if we can get a couple of the other folks on there to update a little more frequently!

    Also: pal Dorian presents…KRYPTO, P.I.

  • Former Malibu Comics chief Dave Olbrich has been running a swell blog over at Funny Book Fanatic, with lots of industry history and other fun stuff. Well, for today’s “Miscellaneous Monday” post, Mr. Olbrich was nice enough to plug my site as “Fanatic Blog of the Week,” and proceeds to say several blush-inducing things about my goofy little website here. Thanks, Dave!
  • Customer Rob wanted to see a picture of me reading a copy of Walking Dead, to, you know, update my image by reading something “current” and “hip,” and here is the result:


    If I look sick and tired in that picture, it’s because I’m sick and tired in that picture. I still think I managed to mug effectively, however.

The Progressive Ruin Questionnaire-Fest 2009, Part Six: The Undiscovered Country.

§ January 25th, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off

Okay, one last time answering your questions:

  • glmmrtwn asks

    “Hey Mike, did you ever do a post on that really weird DC Comics Presents issue where Superman teams up with the Swamp Thing (I think it was issue 12)? It was by Steve Englehart and Murphy Anderson and was pretty trippy. In continuity or not?”

    Hmmm…that was number 8 of DC Comics Presents, and I don’t think I ever really did much with it aside from including a few panels from that story at the end of this post. I don’t think there’s anything about the story that makes it explicitly non-continuity. Well, aside from the miscoloring of Swamp Thing’s word balloons and thought bubbles, but that hardly counts. It does feature the first meeting between Swampy and Solomon Grundy, which is sort of obliquely referenced when the two characters meet again in Swamp Thing (second series) #67, where they greet each other as old acquaintances. Since DCCP #8 is the only (“on-screen”) prior meeting of the characters, I suppose it’s still continuity.

    On a related note, when Swamp Thing encounters Deadman in Swamp Thing Annual #2, Deadman refers to having encountered Swampy before…which we only saw in the Challengers of the Unknown comics that guest-starred them both. Of course, it’s vague enough that the two characters could have “met” under as-yet-unrevealed circumstances, and not specifically those Challs issues, the canonicity of which remains vague given the Swamp Thing storyline contained therein spins off from issues of the first series explicitly deemed non-continuity by DC editorial.

    Wow, you never really know just how much nerdity you’ve got welling up within you until it all just spills out like that.

  • John Parker wants to know

    “What’s the first comic you remember reading?”

    That’s a very good question, and I think I tried to pin it down before on this site, though I can’t find the exact post at the moment. I remember some Donald Duck, some Pink Panther, some Teen Titans, all from about the early/mid ’70s…like, ’74, ’75. I didn’t really become interested in following comics on a regular basis until the Star Wars comic book launched in ’77, which hooked me in well and good.

    Unfortunately, I can’t remember the exact comic that was my first. My hunch is that it was a Disney comic, since I read a lot of those as a young Mikester. I have very clear early memories of looking at panels with Gyro Gearloose’ helper Helper and wondering what was up with that guy. Those would be my earliest memories of comics.

  • Fnord Serious has some questions for me:

    “What is your favorite dead multi-book superhero universe (New Universe, Charlton, Shadowline, Ultraverse, etc) ? I am partial to the Marvel 2099 books myself. If you could bring said universe back, would you like a continuation of the previous continuity, a reboot (like the !mpact revival of the Archie/MLJ heroes), or integration into a preexisting universe as with the Milestone characters currently being brought into the DCU?”

    I think my favorite was the Jim Shooter-era Valiant comics. I liked nearly all the books, they meshed together well, and when taken together formed an interesting and certainly quirky shared universe. If it were to return, I’d prefer a continuation of the previous continuity, since in this specific case we did see a rebooted continuity supplanting that Shooter-era, and it didn’t really do anything for me.

    “I always enjoy your tales of the history of comics retail. I particularly enjoyed your observations on the 90’s crash. As a comics buyer I never thought it had started as far back as Turok #1. More of those posts are always welcome.”

    This is one of those times when I wished I had tags on my posts, because a “market crash” tag would be very useful right now to send you all to my previous writings on this topic.

    In the meantime, though, here are more links to my writings about the crash than you could ever possibly want: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

    Not sure what else I’d have to say about it, but stay tuned…you never know when I’ll be inspired.

    “Anything to say about Doctor Who? I never got into it as a kid, but Mrs. Serious & I have enjoyed watching the recent revival on DVD.”

    I wrote quite a bit on the topic about a year ago, and my thoughts on the topic haven’t changed much since then. Curious about how the new Doctor will be, but that’s still a ways off yet. And I’m still renting the occasional old Who serial from Netflix.

  • Dan Wars demands

    “So how many comic books do you have, anyway?”

    I was actually asked this in one of my previous Q&A sessions. I said about 20,000 then, so…lessee, about 8 new comics a week…let’s say another 1,000 added to that.

  • Employee Aaron tempts fate by asking

    “What kind of vampire would you be?”

    The firin’ kind.

  • Anonymous puzzles me with

    “How many ways can you show us how to solve ‘Zzzax Mmmaze’ using edited scans from 1980’s issue #12 of Marvel FUN AND GAMES MAGAZINE?”

    Er…I suppose any number of ways, if I’m using edited scans. I can remove all the lines of the maze, I can Photoshop (poorly) a bridge stretching from the Start to the Finish…that sort of thing.

    “And can you do it better than your (currently active) comics blogger friends on a meme?”

    I don’t know…that Dave runs a mean Photoshop. I wouldn’t want to challenge him to a combination scanning/rap contest.

  • Anonymous asks

    “Do you believe that old Swamp Thing comics can forsee and prevent disasters in the future? Like say, THIS ONE predicting THIS?

    Embrace the undeniable wisdom of SWAMP THING comics.

    EMBRACE IT!”

    Dude, you don’t need to tell me twice. As soon as Swamp Thing starts giving me lottery numbers and horse race results, I’ll be totally set!

  • Billy inquires

    “Can you comment on the first part of this piece?
    http://www.comicbookresources.co…rticle& id=19650

    Specifically, are Marvel titles really the only reason folks go to comics stores?”

    Well, no, but Marvel and DC do drive the weekly comics sales event, so missing one or the other would be bad news all around.

  • Okay, now for a couple of questions that popped up in the comments sections for my answers posts…like these few from Flossin:

    “-I know this blog doesn’t really deal with Marvel stuff (and I can see why) but here’s a question: Since everybody is sick of Wolverine and the fact that he’s everywhere, what do you think would make him ‘cool’ again for the people that got sick of him when he started being overexposed and overrated?”

    i do deal with Marvel stuff from time to time…I’m more of a DC guy, but I don’t have anything against the characters living at the House of Ideas. Well, aside from Night Thrasher. That name, man, I swear.

    As to your Wolverine question…well, the answer is in your inquiry. When you only saw Wolverine once a month in Uncanny X-Men, the character’s mystique and uniqueness stood out. Now that he’s “overexposed,” as you say, the novelty’s worn off. Cutting back his appearances could go a long way to restoring some of that novelty…though the train may have totally left that station as the character has practically no mystery left.

    “Did you ever in your life wore clown make-up and/or costume?”

    I did wear white face make-up during my brief participation in one of those Haunted House tours that set up at the fairgrounds once a year. I wasn’t a clown, though…I was some kind of…evil cave-dweller or some darn thing. I don’t know.

    “Do you like Madcap?”

    I liked this one ish of She-Hulk well enough, I guess.

    “When will the fourth issue of ‘Ultimate Hulk vs Wolverine’ be out?”

    You’ll have to ask my eventual grandchildren for the answer to that.

  • Nate wants to know

    “Power Pack, great super team or greatest super team?”

    I suspect this question may be biased.

  • Dwayne “the canoe guy” asks

    “One last question: What if, somehow, Jonah Hex got absorbed into Swamp Thing? Would a bounty hunting plant elemental be the most bad-ass thing ever or the biggest joke ever seen?”

    While a Swamp Thing bounty hunter would be cool, I don’t know that simply absorbing Hex’s body would be enough to give Swampy the gunslingin’ skills. Though that’d be a useful ability. “Hey…I need…piano playing…abilities.” (absorbs Franz Liszt) (Swampy starts tickling ivories)

And (phew) I’m more or less done. Thank you for putting up with this past week of question-answering, and especially thank you for the kinds words and continuing patronage of this site.

Tomorrow: fewer italicized words!

The Progressive Ruin Questionnaire-Fest 2009, Part Five: The Dream Child.

§ January 24th, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off

Okay, I thought I could do it today, but I’ll wrap it up for good tomorrow…here are more answers to your questions:

  • Monte has a few things to say:

    “Back in the 70’s there was a big debate about nudity in comics. Now with Marvel’s Max and DC’s Vertigo lines the debate is no more. Do you think this has helped or hurt comics?”

    I wouldn’t say the debate is no more, to be honest…there are still plenty of people out there (as I’m sure the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund could tell you) who think any non kid-appropriate material in comics is wrong and should be done away with. Believe me, all the “MATURE READERS ONLY” warnings in the world aren’t going to stop someone with enough motivation from convincing the general public that the evil publishers and their partners-in-crime, the retailers, were selling copies of Preacher to Little Billy.

    As far as within the fan community itself…I remember when there was a lot of debate in the fan press over sex and violence and what have you in the ’70s and very early ’80s, and it was usually over things like “whoa, that Wolverine character, what with the claws and all…he’s too violent!” and “hey, this comic heavily implies that Nick Fury banged the gong slowly with that one gal…I’m offended!” And looking back at it now all I can think is “wow, they had no idea what was coming.”

    “And second they are sometimes called funnybooks(Hate that name) but it is real hard to find comics that are funny.”

    There are still funny comics out there. You just have to look around. I mean, Secret Invasion was hysterical.

    Oh, okay, that was a cheap shot. But I know what you’re getting at…it’s not like the good ol’ days, when there were plenty of gag books sitting side by side with the guys-in-capes books. Marvel and DC really don’t do ‘em too much any more (aside from DC’s Cartoon Network and Scooby Doo…oh, and Ambush Bug), so look to the indie titles. Try pal Nat’s Licensable Bear™. Or Amelia Rules (warning: sound). Or Dr. Radium by Scott Saavedra. Or Ralph Snart. Or many others I’m sure my kind readers will suggest in the comments section.

    “Third what are the ground rules for you of quitting a certain comic. Looking back in my collection I see a pattern of me buying a comic hoping it return to it’s former greatness. aka Daredevil in the 70’s and 80’s. At what point does the fat lady sing?”

    Basically it’s just “I’m not enjoying it any more.” Or “the creative team that was the reason I was reading this in the first place is leaving, so that’s as good a place as any for me to quit, too.”

    There are books I have stuck around and read in the hopes it’d get better (I’ve often said I could have safely skipped the middle 60 issues of the second Firestorm series, for example), but nowadays most people can ill-afford such luxuries.

    “Finally are comics a dying art form?
    I mean when I go into the comic store the only kids I see are employees. Most of the customers are 35 and over males. When we go will the younger generation keep comics alive?”

    I still see plenty of kids buying comics at our shop. The store just has to be inviting for…well, not just the kids, but the parents who have to take them there. Mom ain’t gonna bring Little Billy (there he is again!) to a store that looks like a disused basement and smells like a petting zoo. And I don’t think that comics are a dying art form…simply that the delivery system for them (the printed paper booklet) is taking some hits. There are plenty of comics online that are doing just fine.

  • Chad asks

    “Have you ever thought about scripting comics, at least as a creative experiment? What comic franchise or property or character would you revamp if you had your pick? And how would you revamp it?”

    I’ve made a half-hearted attempt or two to sell a script here ‘n’ there, but beyond our own local self-published mini-comics concern, I’ve remained mainly on the retail end of things. Which is probably just as well. I suspect the industry has more need of people trying to sell comics properly than it needs more people trying to create comics. There’s no lack of the latter.

    As far as revamping goes…well, I’ve gone on about Swamp Thing enough, I’m sure, so let me think of another. Well, one character that can use it is Aquaman. He’s gone through any number of permutations lately, and you’d probably want to strip away all that mystical jazz, minimize references to old plot points/supporting characters like Mera and Dead Aquababy, and just keep it to the simple stuff everyone associates with the character. He’s King of the Seas, fights crime underwater, uses his telepathic abilities to communicate with undersea life, occasionally pals around with the Justice League, sometimes fights villains like Black Manta and the Fisherman. Well, okay, you may not want to dredge up the Fisherman, but certainly bring back the Ocean Master. Just make it a plain ol’ Silver Agey superhero book. Maybe not simplified to the point of a comic specifically aimed at kids, but definitely make it kid friendly. I’ve seen enough young’uns at the shop react positively to the idea of Aquaman, so an entry-level, low-continuity title starring the character isn’t the worst concept in the world.

    I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? Another canceled Aquaman series?

  • Dallas Senosco has this to say:

    “I would love some reports of recent price increases and affects on customers. I have a job and long ago said that 3 bucks is my limit. I passed on IDW when they were the first many moons ago.
    I have to think that with each price increase, some people stop buying.
    I told my local store that and he understands, but do you not worry that eventually, websites that sell their comics for 40 to 50 percent off are going to be cooking your and all other physical stores bacon.”

    That certainly is a concern, as people are approaching their limits as to what they think is an acceptable price for the standard comic book format. I think $3.99 is…well, not great, but not as much of a psychological deterrent as, say, a five buck price point for the current format. (Of course, fifteen years ago I’m sure I would have said the same thing about the $3 price point). Something is going to have to change…I’m not quite ready for a “trade paperback only” model, but the periodical comics are going to have to beef up their offerings to keep folks willing to pay the entry fee.

    I’m sure physical stores taking a hit from online discounters, but there’s not really anything we can do about that aside from just trying to attract customers into our shop with our service and our selection. And backrubs. Trying to compete with deep discounters will just end up killing our business (someone once worked out that the number of extra customers you’d attract with heavy discounting usually doesn’t balance out with the amount of money you’re losing by not selling the comics closer to retail), so we just have to do what we can.

    Plus, there’s the feeling of just getting to go into a shop to look around and see what’s available, so at least we’ve got that going for us! And the backrubs.

  • Roel Torres reasonably asks

    “Why do millions and millions of people enjoy movies based on comic properties like Iron Man, Dark Knight, Superman Returns, X-Men, Spider-Man, etc. — yet look down on reading comics based on the very same characters as a nerdy fringe hobby?”

    Because “watching” is cool, and “reading” isn’t.

    Well, that’s a bit simplistic. Probably it’s because the movies provide the essentials of the characters/situations without demanding a monthly commitment to following the ins and outs and subplots and tie-ins. For most people, even the ones who really like Spider-Man, one Spider-Man movie about every three years is plenty. Reading three Spider-Man comics a month would just be wallowing in it to the point of obsession, and who’d want to do that?

  • The infamous Aqualad Knox has more for me:

    “When will people stop bitching about Brand New Day?”

    I think people are still bothered by it as it was the result of a fairly egregious example of an editorial decision to fix something that, by most people’s thinking, wasn’t really the issue. The problem with Spider-Man wasn’t that Peter was married to Mary Jane. The problem with Spider-Man was crummy Spider-Man comics.

    The “Brand New Day” era of Spidey comics, which for the most part have actually been pretty good, are simply a continuing reminder of that “Spidey makes a deal with the devil” story that laid the groundwork for the soft-reboot. It’s hard to shake the memory that some of the character’s most basic foundations re: responsibility had to be violated to bring this about. And that twenty years of the character being married is suddenly done away with…that’s a pretty big thing to suddenly ask your 60,000 remaining Spider-man readers to accept. Just judging by the number of customers who’ve asked me at the shop, I’m sure a large percentage of the total readership is waiting for the “conclusion” to the Mephisto storyline, where the marriage is restored, and that all these “in-between” stories are just “alternate universe” Spider-stories that are killing time ’til the former status quo comes back.

    “Didn’t you say you used to be a librarian? Why’d you stop?”

    I’d sorta had enough of it, and the opportunity arose at Ye Olde Comick Book Shoppe for a position there. Plus, it was better pay and more hours.

    Yes, a librarian was able to get better pay and more hours at a comic book store. Let that sink in a bit.

    “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

    For the amusement of the bad people.

  • Direct from beautiful Thailand, Mr. Andrew Davison asks

    “I’d love to see some (humorous) photos of your ‘team’ and the shop.”

    Yeah, it has been a while. I’ll see what I can do.

    “I’ve offered wondered about the mysterious ‘owner’ of the shop, who YOU NEVER MENTION.”

    I think I decided early on it would be poor form to go on about the owner…I mean, not that he’d really care. We have known each other for decades, it’s not like he doesn’t trust me.

    His name’s Ralph, he’s a cool guy despite his preference for the Grateful Dead, and he looks something like this:


    …only his actual cape is maybe a little shorter.

    “You seem to have stopped doing reviews of late.”

    I really don’t like doing reviews, aside from maybe brief smart-assed one-liners or such. Occasionally I’ll get inspired to wax poetic about some book or ‘nother, but generally my reviews are “MIKE LIKE ART, YOU BUY THIS BOOK NOW.”

    Every time a New Comics Day rolls around, I feel like I should say more than a few words about some of the new releases, but ooh, look I found a penny isn’t it shiny?

    “More on the stuff you do for local libraries.”

    Just by pure coincidence, I just wrapped up several hundred dollars’ worth of orders for a couple of the local libraries. In fact, even as I write this, I have a few boxes sitting downstairs in my house that I need to deliver to a library in the next day or so.

    I haven’t said much about it because there’s not really much to add that I haven’t said before. They want kids comics, they really want Pokemon titles, and they really don’t want any Archie comics since kids tend to turn their noses up at them.

  • Oscar Blotnik wants to know

    “We all know how you feel about Swamp Thing, but what are your feelings towards his daughter? Is Tefe a vital element to the Swamp Thing saga or does she add little to his mythos?”

    I think Tefe was an interesting side story, but ultimately not a “vital” element. If you ask your average comics fan what they know about Swamp Thing, the fact that he has a daughter isn’t going to come up.

    Tefe’s position in the mythos is an extension of the generational aspect of the Swamp Thing “position” (geez, I’m using more quotation marks than a Jack Kirby script) in nature that Alan Moore introduced in Swamp Thing #33. Specifically, she was the merging of the Green World and the Human World…an elemental in human form that was supposed to bring about something or another. So basically she’s a supporting character/plot point for Swamp Thing’s ongoing saga, which means she’s only as vital as the story demands.

  • Chris K will wrap things up for today with another Swamp Thing question:

    “What was your first Swamp Thing comic? More specifically, was it pre-Alan Moore/ Anatomy Lesson? (I’ve always had the sense that it was) Were you one of the few people who got in on the ground floor with that run, and how did you feel about it at the time?”

    I actually have noted it before…in this post about Swamp Thing (first series) #23…the one where Swamp Thing is turned back into Alec Holland. I bought that sometime in the very late ’70s, early ’80s.

    I started reading the second Swampy series with the first issue, which meant that I was indeed one of the few who got in on the ground floor with this new British writer: Adam Mores, or something. In fact, at the time I was one of the two people buying the comic at the local shop.

    I was blown away by those initial Alan Moore issues. I must have reread those things about a dozen times each waiting for the next issue to arrive. I remember specifically feeling a sense of dread at the end of Moore’s first issue, after Swamp Thing was shot through the head. I wasn’t sure how Swampy was going to get out of this one, but I was sure it was going to be something pretty drastic.

    And whaddaya know…it was.

Thanks for putting up with this, internet pals. Hopefully Sunday will be the end of this…see you tomorrow.

The Progressive Ruin Questionnaire-Fest 2009, Part Four: Citizens on Patrol.

§ January 23rd, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off

Yes, it’s a fourth part to my ongoing quest to answer your questions. I’m sorry if this is going on too long, as I really didn’t intend for it to drag out like this. But I’m still fighting an illness, and answering these questions a few at a time is, for the time being, easier than trying to generate a whole lot of content on my own. So, to all of you who participated, I really do appreciate it. You’ve made this week go by a lot more easily, and without having to resort to another “low content mode” series of posts again.

Anyway, on to your questions:

  • Ryan wants to know

    “How poorly is The Amazing Spider-Man selling compared to before the Brand New Day mess?”

    For us, sales are Amazing Spider-Man have been generally declining (aside from, oh, say, the Obama issue), and I think they’re at lower sales levels than before the sorta-weekly relaunch. Now, at the time I thought maybe we’d experience a dip below normal ASM sales, but that sales on three issues per month of ASM would still be higher than sales on one monthly issue of ASM and two issues of the other monthly Spider-Man series. However, I suspect the numbers may have dropped even further than that, though I don’t have our cycle sheets right in front of me to see exactly how they’re doing.

    On the other hand, Spider-Man sales prior to Brand New Day were mostly one crossover tie-in or special event after another, so average sales were sort of on the inflated side anyway before the whole Mephisto boondoggle. After Brand New Day, there weren’t all that many heavily-promoted event issues of ASM, aside from the Anti-Venom story and the aforementioned Obama comic. Without the constant onslaught of events, sales couldn’t help but average lower than before.

    Of course, I’m just talking about our sales. Maybe the comics are doing great elsewhere. But judging from the sales chart someone dropped into my comments a while back…well, while we have learned that those sales numbers people keep posting aren’t necessarily 100% accurate, they’re good enough to present general trends, and ASM certainly seems to have been trending downward.

  • Ray Cornwall ponders

    “Who’d win- Swamp Thing, Man Thing, or Herbie in a three-way fight at the Nexus of the Universe?”

    With such a horrific conflict among such powerful and influential beings, there can truly be no winners, only losers, as we all face total and utter destruction at the cosmic conflagration that would certainly result.

    Shorter answer: Herbie.

  • Thwacko dares to ask

    “Is it true J*** B**** once drew a guy’s penis in a mainstream comic?

    Oh, wait, wrong column.”

    I believe the column you’re looking for is this one, where the kind and good Brian Cronin takes on that very topic, with pictures and everything! But I’m going to respectfully disagree with Brian’s negative response to said rumor…man, that’s totally a penis sorta hangin’ on down there. Nobody looked at that panel and didn’t think it. Even if that wasn’t the intent, that’s what you got.

    (I’m sorry, Brian…but when it comes to penises, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.)

  • Snapper asks

    “Do you think Swamp Thing would be even cooler if he had Batman for a left arm?”

    I don’t know about cooler, but he’d certainly have a conversation starter.

  • g23 comments

    “You can make at least one post out of Gail Simone’s Twitter challenges… they are brilliant.”

    I’m kinda vaguely aware of these challenges, as I don’t follow Gail Simone on the Twitter, but I’ll occasionally see a bunch of folks I follow suddenly send a bunch of messages her way, all seemingly on the same theme. They’re in response to Simone’s commands, like this one:

    “Your Twitter Mission for the Day…give me a superhero’s post-coital comment, six words or less, and no cursing. I dare you.”

    I wouldn’t want to make a post out of her particular Twitter game, as it’s specifically for her Twitter followers and not fodder for weblog content. Er, not that it stopped me from writing a couple of paragraphs about it, but you know what I mean.

  • Nik must know

    “What canceled comic book would you bring back if you could?”

    Yes, I know, everyone expects me to say Swamp Thing. And that would be the obvious answer. But I suspect we’ll get a new Swamp Thing series sooner or (more likely) later, so no special wishing power on my part is really necessary.

    If I were to pick a cancelled comic that’s not likely to return, I’d pick Jupiter by Jason Sandberg. The ongoing narrative starring Pelasgus and the continuing building of a society around him was compelling reading, and I was sorry it ended so abruptly.

    Plus, Customer Rob is still kinda steamed at me for turning him on to that comic, only to have it stop. Sorry, Rob!

  • CW has a couple of questions for me

    “Mike, what do you think of Avatar’s Crossed? I think it’s actually a satire of the horror genre, since it’s so over the top.”

    I think there are certainly some satirical elements to it, yes. But the horror element is really horrific and just beyond the pale, and the end of that one issue (oh, you know which one) still has just kinda stuck with me in a way most horror comics don’t. Now that’s what I want from a scary comic. An actual honest-to-God impact.

    “Also, can we have high DPI scans of old funnybook characters pointing angrily?”

    All seriousness aside…for a “low content mode” week, the amount of work I put into those posts was just stupidly crazy. Remind me never to do that again.

  • Philip asks

    “Now that I’ve mentally worked through all of my ‘can I borrow 20 bucks?’ and ‘what’s that on your face?’ type questions:”

    1. You’re asking a guy who sells comics for a living for money?

    2. That would be my ritualistic tribal Native American tattoo, in honor of Star Trek: Voyager‘s Chakotay, as portrayed by Robert Beltran.

    “Did you set out to be comic book retailer or was it thrust upon you? And, in your career as a retailer, what are some things that surprised you (good or bad) and what might you take a do-over on if you could?”

    Basically, I needed a job, hey I liked comics, I was in the right place at the right time (pushing previous job holder Ray out the door), and next thing you know, here I am writing a blog about comics every night because I don’t get enough of the things during the day.

    I think the next part of that question requires a dedicated post on the topic, but…huh, what surprised me? I think the sudden burst of comic book faddishness in the late ’80s/early ’90s and the huge mainstream interest in the collectibility of comics certainly came as a surprise. ‘Course, it nearly resulted in the end of the industry, but it was a surprise nonetheless.

    And related, what I’d do over: more conservative ordering in the early ’90s, ordering more for rack sales than for estimated back issue sales…essentially, read the writing on the wall a little more quickly than we did for the impending market crash.

  • Jamee asks

    “Does your store have a manga section? If so, does it sell well? I ask because of all the stores I’ve shopped at over the years, only one had anything that could be called an actual manga section. Maybe manga does better in bookstores?”

    We do have a large manga section on several tall and full bookshelves at the front of the store. It sells well enough, though some books certainly sell better than others. I’ve seen the manga shelves at the local bookshops…I certainly see a few kid in those aisles, sitting on the floor mooching free reads, but if they’re buying one for every five they read and put back, I’d be surprised.

    Let me amend that…I used to see kids in the manga aisles. The last few times I’ve been at the bookstores, I’ve seen no one in those aisles.

  • K26dp wonders

    “Did you ever in a million years think that the Death of Batman would generate so little buzz?”

    I’m grateful it didn’t, since I’m still getting the occasional walk-in customer wondering why there are still Superman comics since, you know, didn’t he die a few years back?

    Besides, we know he didn’t die for good, we know he’s coming back, we know Warner Brothers wouldn’t allow DC to do permanent harm to one of their most valuable properties. And, for the people who actually read the comic instead of just grinding axes and bitching about it, we know that this is clearly not the Final Fate of Batman. It’s just a plot twist in an ongoing serial. Surely nobody seriously thought it was anything but.

    That there wasn’t an onslaught of real world news stories about “the Death of Batman” is…well, I want to say it was a sudden outbreak of common sense and restraint, but, you know, c’mon. I don’t know if DC tried to get real world news in on it, but if they did and the story didn’t catch on…well, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Which is why retailers don’t order books assuming freak sales based on news coverage.

    Anyway, here’s all the Batman death coverage you need.

  • Andrew Leal leals

    “Who do you think would win in a fight amongst Nancy, Lulu, *and* Audrey?”

    Ah, geez. Well, Audrey would be out right away, I think, narrowing it down to a close contest between Nancy and Lulu. While Nancy may have a slight edge physically, Lulu is perhaps a bit more cerebral. Assuming Nancy’s brawn doesn’t end the fight early (though it should be noted Lulu is bit of a scrapper herself), given enough time and opportunity Lulu would likely think of a clever way to ensure her victory.

  • Caleb demands answers:

    “–Have you ever considered maybe possibly blogging about Batman and Robin (the movie)?”

    Stand a little closer…I want to show you this wooden baseball bat.

    “–How come you won’t mention that person you won’t mention on your blog? Please explain in great detail, without mentioning that person or that person’s identifying works and characeristics.”

    If we’re speaking about the same person we’re not speaking about, it’s because that person, who used to be a favored creator of mine, has very clearly become, via his online behavior, someone I don’t necessarily want to promote or even really discuss.

    “–I’ve been reading Essential Man-Thing lately, and noticed the covers of some bill him as ‘The Most Startling Slime Creature of Them All!’ Were there mutliple Slime Creatures in comics at the time? Were they calling Swamp Thing out? Is Swampy really a slime creature? I always thought of him as more of a plant creature.”

    Well, if you have a bunch of wet swamp plant life in your body, some of it is bound to be pretty slimy. I’m guessing, too, that they probably didn’t want to use the word “Swamp” in their slogan, reminding folks of their crosstown rival creature. Thought it should be noted that “Swamp” was the word used on the early issues.

    “–Is it true that you’re a cheater pants? According to the Internet, you are.”

    If it’s on the internet, it must be true.

    (Here’s where that started, by the way. Like most things of this nature, it’s ultimately my own fault.)

Okay, and that’s enough of that for today. Will I wrap this up tomorrow? Come back and see! You know, if you really want to.

The Progressive Ruin Questionnaire-Fest 2009, Part Three: At World’s End.

§ January 22nd, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off

Boy, you people asked a lot of questions! Well, here we go….

  • Mike Nielsen asks

    “What is the strangest giveaway comic you’ve come across at the shop?”

    I think my favorite giveaway comic (though we certainly weren’t giving it away at the time!) was a copy of 1949’s Dagwood Splits The Atom. Alas, we sold it long before my blogging days, otherwise it would have made some good post fodder. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of other folks who have covered it, and you can actually read the whole comic right here.

  • Pal Mojo IV wonders

    “What is the most unsellable comic in your quarter bins?”

    It’s hard to pick out one item out of the bargain bins as being particularly unsellable. Even stuff like Turok #1 from Valiant, a dog of a title by most standards, tends to move out of the bargain boxes thanks to the fancy cover.

    In general, the stuff that moves the most is the familiar Marvel and DC books, and the stuff that kinda sits is the black and white boom stuff, or other forgotten indie titles. I wish I could just point to specific titles and say “Good Lord, I’m going to be buried with these issues of Wolfpack and Semper Fi,” but nothing really stands out.

  • Old Bull Lee asks

    “I was wondering if you would comment on Patrick McGoohan’s death and/or the upcoming Prisoner remake. I don’t know if I’ve read about it here or not, but it just SEEMS like you would be a fan of that show.”

    Unfortunately, I think I may have only seen the first episode of the series. I never did get around to seeing the rest, though thanks to the Netflix I can finally rectify this situation. (In fact, I took a break from composing this post to go add them to my queue. Good gravy, ten discs?)

    So alas, I have no particular opinion on the show, beyond acknowledging that folks really like it, and that it has a certain measure of influence. As far as the remake goes…I’ve no particular beef with the idea of remakes, so long as they’re reasonably well done. Some kind of condensed version of the series, like the film version of The Fugitive might not be too bad, and may very well introduce more people to the original. You never know.

    I remember reading someone’s comment somewhere that the real shame was that McGoohan died before the publicity machine went to work for the remake, as it’s likely he could have had a few more interviews, a little more attention thrown his way. Alas, it’s not to be.

  • Jon Cormier asks

    “Do you think well translated Euro-comics would sell well in today’s graphic novel market?

    “I guess I’m also asking if you know anything about comics on another continent and whether or not that approach could work where you are.”

    In today’s market? With the right shelving placement and the right material, sure. But it’s a tough marketplace right now, and material unfamiliar to a U.S. audience will have a hard time getting a toehold.

    Not to say we don’t carry European albums when available, but this is a very limited, select clientele that we have for it. Which is better than no clientele, so who am I to complain?

    I should note that I’m not very familiar with how comics are sold overseas…I did have one customer who used to live in Belgium explain to me how the stores back home worked. Just sounded like a standard bookstore situation to me, with less emphasis on periodical releases. If I have an incorrect perception, set me straight!

  • Someone who apparently received a check from Employee Aaron, K Kokoska, inquires

    “Always enjoyed your reported exchanges with Employee Aaron.
    Does Employee Aaron still work there?
    If yes, you need to give him a guest blogger spot for a week, or have him review your entries for a week, or have him draw for a week. More Aaron is what I am saying. Let’s make it employee Aaron’s progressive ruin for a week!
    If no, you need to explain yourself STERLING!!!”

    Employee Aaron does still work here, and I believe he was talking about starting his own blog sooner or later. In the meantime, you can get your most current Employee Aaron updates at his Twitter.

    But it has been a while since I’ve posted any in-store exchanges amongst the employees. I’ll see what I can do.

  • Jim Kingman barks right up my tree by wondering

    “Mike, if a representative from DC called you today and said they had decided you should write the ‘return’ of Swamp Thing to the DC Universe, and you accepted, what would the story be?”

    I’ve mentioned a few times to friends polite enough to put up with me that if I were to write a DCU Swamp Thing, I’d just need two pages at the beginning of the book to get everyone up to speed as to what happened in those long Vertigo years. Retell the origin, retell the “not really Alec Holland, but a plant that thinks its Holland” thing, the romance with Abby, the birth (et al) of Tefe, the whole ‘Swamp Thing takes over the world’ thing from Millar’s run…okay, it might be a lot of little, text-heavy panels, but I think I can do it. Basically, a “here’s what you missed, but we’re back to an elemental swamp creature and…oh, hey, here’s your team-up with Red Tornado! Yay!”

  • Ray Van Buskirk (aka The Guy I Replaced Here at The Shop When I Got This Job Lo These Many Years Ago…Yes, There Was Someone Pre-Mike) has a few requests:

    “How about an issue by issue analysis of Sonic Disruptors by DC?”

    Oh, goodness. I’m trying to remember the last time I read this series…probably close to 20 years now. Rereading it now would likely be a frustrating experience, given that the series was canceled prior to its conclusion (and I swear I remember seeing a news blurb in Amazing Heroes that a one-shot drawn by Mike Mignola was planned to wrap it up…was this just some fever dream? Can anyone confirm?).

    As for an issue by issue analysis…well, I’ll think about it!

    “Oh, and another vote for the facial hair thing…wait was that facial hair in comics or was that your facial hair?”

    My facial hair is an ongoing tragedy. And honestly, I don’t have anything more to really say about comic book character facial hair. Hey, remember when a lot of superheroes in the 1970s had sideburns? Like, even Superboy had some serious sideburns. How awesome was that?

    “A biography of Ralph H? (or at least Ralph Snart)”

    Well, I wrote a little about the store’s Ralph on our website (which still needs more content…I’m workin’ on it!), and as for Ralph Snart…. Well, it’s interesting that the most recent Ralph Snart comics have gotten away from “schlub who has whacked-out adventures in his overactive imagination” to “guy who has whacked-out adventures,” without the multiple “inside the mind” and “real world” plotlines. As far as tracking an actual throughline for all the comics’ events…that would take a braver man than I, sir.

    “I would love to see a post on underground comics or at the least more posts of Woodeye? Maybe a “where are they now” feature of the contributors to Woodeye? A “how it got started” to a “why did we break up” kinda thing? A reunion?….”

    Phew…more Wood-Eye posts. (Wood-Eye is the anthology mini-comics digest that some friends of mine and I did in the mid-90s.) It basically started since pal Rob had a bunch of friends who could draw but weren’t really doing anything with our scribblin’ skills at the time, so he created Wood-Eye as a place where we could put our etchings for the entertainment of others.

    There was no particular reason it ended, beyond everyone sort of moving on, or away, and just plain not having the time to do it anymore. But I’ve thought about a reunion or revival of the comic once or twice. Maybe someday.

    “Where Are They Now?” Well, here I am. And here’s pal Fred, a Xeric-award winner and very funny cartoonist, and here’s pal Scott, an award-winning author. All contributors to Wood-Eye, and all owe every single ounce of their success to their affiliation with our fine comics magazine.*

    * May not be entirely true.

    “GROO! You can never have too much…”

    Well, we haven’t had too much lately, other than a series about a year ago. Supposedly we still have Groo/Conan and Groo/Tarzan series in the works, which hopefully we’ll see someday soon. As soon as I have new Groo news, you’ll see it here!

  • Wrapping up for this post, it’s Mike P with

    “Care to comment on last night’s Legion-themed episode of ‘Smallville,’ and/or all things LSH in general?”

    Well, I just want to say I totally called it back in ’04. But I did like the episode, I thought the costumes were nicely done…very evocative of superhero outfits without being explicitly superhero outfits. I did have some trouble accepting that the Legion would go for the “kill the bad guy” option so quickly, even if it was just there to give Clark a reason to impart some good ol’ values to them.

    And the Legion in general…I’m just hoping this Legion of 3 Worlds mini wraps up once and for all which version of the Legion is going to be the “real” Legion. Well, I know that’s the purpose of the series…I’m more hoping that it sticks, and we don’t have to go through any more reboots. I’ve been a Legion fan for a long time, but frankly, it hasn’t been easy.

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