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I apologize for the extended outage…flu and / or flu-like symptoms struck down your pal Mike after I had seemingly worked them out of my system over the Free Comic Book Day weekend. Alas, they came back in full force early last week and I spent most of the week in bed reading comics, watching television, or (mostly) sleeping.
WHAT I READ:
I reread all of William Messner-Loebs’ series starring his 19th century woodsman Wolverine MacAlistaire, Journey. Originally, when the series was coming out, it took a normalman crossover issue to get me to try it. I liked Loebs’ work so much, however, I ended up continuing with the series and picking up the back issues. The follow-up mini-series Wardrums was never completed, sadly, though we did get a short story in the Many Happy Returns one-shot.
I also reread all of Grant Morrison’s Batman saga, beginning back in Batman #655 from (urgh) 2006, which was about eight years ago, and not the “just the other day” I had been clinging to out of desperation to push away the yawning grave. Overall it holds together pretty well, despite the occasional artistic…misstep, I suppose, and it somehow manages to maintain its overall story threads during the whole New 52 switchover. Mostly by ignoring it, it seems like, which was probably just as well. I’d have to dip back into the Batman boxes from the Vast Mikester Archives for the occasional tie-in one-shot or mini I’d forgotten (“oh, right, Batman: The Return“), and I was bemused by being reminded I’d only bought the Morrison parts of that Ra’s al Ghul crossover and didn’t bother with the rest (sorry, whoever worked on those other parts of the story).
WHAT I WATCHED:
I saw that Son of Batman animated movie, which is what kind of inspired my reread of the Morrison Bat-comics since the film was based on, oh, one or two issues of those comics. It was fine, I guess, with nicely animated fight scenes and some funny dialogue, but frustrating since this is all of the overall story arc we’ll ever see adapted, I’m just going to assume. Not that I’m expecting Final Crisis: The Animated Movie or anything, but there’s enough stuff in Morrison’s run to fill a couple of TV seasons of an ongoing Batman cartoon, and it’s all so much fun craziness that only doing a adaptation of what is essentially the prologue seems like a lost opportunity. Points, however, for being the first Batman cartoon I’m aware of to discuss birth control.
However, I balanced this out by watching most of the third season of Batman: Brave and the Bold on Netflix, which is every crazy thing you’ve ever read in a Batman comic, animated and made completely amazing. On one hand, it’s a damn shame there were only three seasons of this. On the other hand, three seasons of this was far more than this fallen world deserves.
I also finally got a copy of this on DVD after having the soundtrack CD for nearly 25 years. And the DVD comes with…a copy of the soundtrack on CD. Well, sure.
WHAT I DIDN’T READ:
I didn’t read most of the new comics I picked up last week. That’s weird. I will note that Marvel’s prepping you folks for the upcoming EXPLICIT BIRTH SCENES in Miracleman by starting to polybag the comics now, which also totally coincidentally hides the return of the black and white “classic” reprints nobody wants filling space in these issues. Sigh. Everything else in these Miracleman reprints is pretty great, though, so don’t let that dissuade you.
Anyway, how’re you doing?
The temptation to follow up to the comments on my Robot 6 interview is strong, but I think I’ll try to resist…mostly. A few folks there noted an actual, physical aversion to the very texture of DC’s 3D covers, which is a reaction I hadn’t heard at the shop. I did have a few people reject the 3D covers because they didn’t care for them visually, and others who expressed an aversion at paying $3.99 a pop, but people just plain not liking how they feel is a phenomenon I didn’t expect. Personally, I liked rubbing them together and listening to the zzzzzzip zzzzzzip sound, but perhaps I’ve said too much.
Interesting also is the gap between one commenter’s statement that “the idea any of these titles are going to be worth money in the future is laughable” and another’s statement that “these are going to be worth money.” The truth is somewhere between, as it often is, unless the eventual answer turns out to be “these will be worth exactly one visit to the King of the Moon!” which is waaaay outside the range established by the initial responses, admittedly. Right now, yeah, some of them are commanding Big EBay Bucks, but they’ll settle down to Slightly More Reasonable EBay Bucks in a few months, and I suspect future price guides, assuming a future industry to support publication of future price guides, will reflect slightly higher prices for these 3D issues over the issues that surround them. If the vast majority of them are going for any more than about $5 to $10 a year from now, I will be shocked, and thankfully the comments on this post will be closed by then in case I’m wrong. Anyway, in a year someone remind me to go look at the aftermarket pricing on these books and maybe I’ll write up a follow-up post, unless by then I’ve ejector-seated myself out of this crazy business and finally started doing something sensible, like deep-sea fishing.
The negative response to the comics themselves, not just in those comments but elsewhere on the Internet, are a bit of a surprise, too. Well, not much of a surprise since it’s currently DC’s turn to get kicked around by the online comic-gnoscenti, but in general my customers seemed to enjoy reading the comics, when they weren’t being frustrated by availability issues. Most of the ones I read I enjoyed, but, as I noted in an earlier post, I was generally just picking up the Villains Month issues for comics I was already reading (or featuring concepts I enjoyed, but shoved under the Justice League banner for the month), so I was predisposed to like the Villains Months issues I was buying. I liked most of the one-shots that tied into the main Batman book, for instance, but I passed on the Bane one-shot because, well, aside from the animated versions, and the amazing live-action version from the third Nolan Bat-film, I don’t much care for the character. I enjoyed the Doomsday issue of Superman/Batman, with its crazy-pants Krypton story and implications for how the Death of Superman now fits into New 52 continuity. We also got a new Mongul story in one of those Green Lantern one-shots, written by Mongul’s creator, Jim Starlin! That was pretty fantastic. And I enjoyed Swamp Thing‘s Arcane one-shot, as I’d discussed previously, and my issues with that particular comic were more related to the general Swampy-reboot as a whole than any specific Villains Month hoohar, but then, I’m Swamp Thing-obsessed so that should be expected. …And I’m sure some of you folks out there liked reading some of these villains comics as well.
In a more general sense (and I’ll stop using the word “general,” I promise) I don’t object to the idea of DC doing a big special event like this. If it gets people in stores and looking for comics, well, beggars can’t really be choosers, especially as the marketplace continues its ever-ongoing and seemingly-eternal upward scrabble out of the pit of the ’90s crash. I wish the event had been handled differently — let me insert right here the “NO DUH” you’re thinking right now. I wish it didn’t effectively make a bunch of titles weekly books for the month…I mean, if you were already getting all the Green Lantern books, you were basically buying a weekly GL comic anyway, but if you were only getting the main Green Lantern title, you may have felt compelled to get all four Villains Month issues, quadrupling your GL input, and that hardly seems fair. (Much in the same way Superior Spider-Man fans got about twenty issues of their title in nine months, Lucy-and-Ethyl-working-the-chocolate-conveyor-belt style). At the same time, just doing a Villains Month special for each of their regular titles would not have generated the same sales levels, probably; an All-Star Western 3D Villains Month special issue wouldn’t have generated the numbers of a fourth Superman special, hence that marketing decision.
In conclusion, I wish things were different and better and that everyone would be happy, and also I want more Swamp Thing titles, so long as I’m wishing for stuff. I also hope the next Big Event is not quite as headache-inducing, as long as I’m really wishing. And hopefully, that’s enough discussion of 3D covers on this site (until the aforementioned year-later post I may or may not do).
Next up: DIE-CUT COVERS – why these are a huge pain in the ass.
So I received a used copy of this hardcover in a collection I purchased the other day:
And, well, I did have it in the shop as a new item before, but I never really did sit down and give it a good looking-at then, despite my enjoyment of Don Newton’s Batman. Thus, before putting it out for sale I thought I’d take it home and give it a read…what, it’s going to get more
used? …Well, okay, yeah, I suppose it is, but I’ve the gentle touch of a professional comics handler, and can easily peruse this volume without causing further discoloration, dogearing, spine stress, or, God help us, foxing.
Anyway, I was a fan of Newton’s work, both on Batman and on Infinity Inc., which he had just started to work on when he passed away in 1984 at the too-young age of 49. Reading this book, I find myself struck by one thing, which will hardly be a new or original comment in regards to these sorts of reprint projects, but nevertheless it’s still an honest reaction. The pages are just too white and clean. The Young Mike that’s still rattling around in my head is expecting to be reading these stories on brown-ish newsprint. In fact, when I mentally picture Newton’s art, I imagine dark, moody images…all shadows and mystery. Reprinting in this book on bright pages with bright coloring, even the shadows look like you’re staring at the sun. …Okay, I exaggerate slightly, but still, it was a bit jarring to have the art right in front of me and contradicting my memories of same.
And before you say anything, yes, Infinity Inc. was printed on bright white paper with eye-searingly bright colors, but Newton’s sadly brief tenure there doesn’t have the nostalgic hold his Batman work has for me.
As I was writing this, another sorta unsung comics artist fave of mine came to mind that I’d like to see reprinted in a book like this. I’d totally be all over The Complete Irv Novick.
• • •
One of my readers was kind enough to point out that, in an old post of mine…I mean, really old, within the first month of this site’s life…one of the links I’d posted way back then had apparently since gone feral and now pointed to a porn site. Okay, first off…porn on the Internet? When did that start? And secondly…yeah, link rot. This site is on the verge of turning nine years old, and I’m sure many links in a lot of my old posts now go to destinations I did not originally intend. I mean, if I was sending you to a dirty filthy dirty site
, I was usually pretty good about warning you up front.
I’ve heard about some people going through and consistently maintaining and / or removing links on old posts, but frankly, it’s hard enough to find the time to keep with new posts, or sleep. And then there was the great Blogger-to-Wordpress shift I underwent in early ’10, which resulted in some formatting and archived-post issues, and then whatever that company was that was supporting the old commenting system cut that support, so links to those comments are now no bueno, I guess, and…man, sometimes I feel doing a reboot, and just starting this website from scratch. FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNEW BEFORE: WELCOME TO THE NEW PROGRESSIVE RUIN! and then I’d never refer to anything before that date ever again.
I’m not going to do it, but, back past a certain point, my site’s a mess. I do still go back and fix links and formatting and stuff if I have occasion to link to an old post, so I’m not letting things totally fall into barbarism, but…well, just assume any super old link is probably taking you straight to a site that’ll sell you V1aG4a or promise you pictures of people inserting Tab A into Slot B.
However, I am happy to note that I still occasionally edit my very first post to make sure it’s still sending you where I want you to go. Man, had I known they’d be fiddling with those addresses every year or so, I’d have picked something else for my debut entry.
• • •
Reader d asks
“Hey Mike, we all know you have every Swamp & Man Thing appearance, but do you collect The Heap as well? Just curious.”
Well, I don’t have every Man-Thing appearance…I do have every one written by Steve Gerber, as well as the first appearance in Savage Tales (not by Gerber), but from about the ’90s forward, I’ve been a little pickier about touching Man-Things.
That has nothing to do with the actual thrust of your question, which is all about the Heap, the original comic book swamp monster dating back to the 1940s. Sadly…no, I haven’t gone out of my way to seek out Heap comics, though I have picked up some of the latter day revivals, such as this 1971 one-shot I’ve discussed in the past, or this new version from Moonstone, or the Airboy/Mr. Monster one-shot from 1987, in which the Heap plays a prominent role, and is a great comic, to boot.
The original Heap comics are about to be reprinted in a series of three hardcover volumes, and I’m still waffling a bit on whether I can afford to pick these up for myself. My usual argument to talk myself into such things is “if I don’t get them now, I’ll probably never have another chance, at least this (relatively) cheaply,” so we’ll see. I am tempted.
• • •
On a related note, in that it’s asked in the same comments section, Casey wonders
“Mike, have you ever done a post about toxic Teen Titans continuity?”
Oh God, no. What I’d wished I had done is recorded pal Dorian and myself going on and on and hashing it all out and realizing that some of the time frames involved would make some of the adult characters a lot older than they should be, or that some of the lengths of time of team membership would be extremely short, or…hell, I don’t remember now. This was prior to DC kind of pushing the “sliding scale” of the Modern DC Superhero Universe to being about 20 years old, as of Identity Crisis, which I recall thinking was a slightly more reasonable time frame, given the amount of “important” events and continuity, not just for the Titans but for everyone, you had to squeeze in there.
Of course, post-Flashpoint, that scale is now about 5 or 6 years, depending on who you ask, I guess, so it’s all a moot point. And I hear tell Titans continuity has even more exciting problems now, as in some indecision whether there were previous Titans teams or not, but I leave the pondering of that question to younger, abler folks than myself.
• • •
And then sometimes I repost a gag I already made on the Twitter
, such as presenting this gag header from Archie’s Joke Book
#134 (March 1969 – hey, my birth month!) and lamenting the fact that in no way does the story live up to this title:
…which is just as well, since Archie couldn’t participate anyway:
Oh, scatological humor! You’re the best
• • •
To bring things back around to the nostalgia of Young Mike from the beginning of this post, just before I soiled it all with continuity nitpicking, porn, poop jokes, and Man-Thing innuendo, I found myself the other day discussing the joys of Omega Men
with a customer of mine.
Although I had read the introduction of the Omega Men in those three or so issues of Green Lantern, I didn’t follow them to their own series (which experienced some small controversy in its early issues due to depictions of violence, back in the “they didn’t know how good they had it” days of fandom). It took Alan Moore, a writer of some note, writing a back-up in two successive issues of the series (#26, pictured, and #27) to get me to take a look…and quite wisely, a new storyline in the main feature started up at that same time, giving Moore-ites like me a solid jumping-on point. It helped that 1) the new regular artist on the series was Shawn McManus, for whom I was developing a strong appreciation, and 2) that the comic itself was just a darned weird, creepy, and plain ol’ interesting sci-fi adventure.
As I was talking about the book with the customer, a couple of things dawned on me that, I suppose, shouldn’t have surprised me but did anyway. The actual run of that “new direction” for Omega Men, from #26 to the book’s eventual cancellation, was only 13 issues, plus an annual. It sure felt like it was longer…not in a bad way, I mean. It’s that a whole lot of stuff happened along the course of that comic, and it’s hard to believe they managed to fit it all into only about a year’s worth of stories (well, technically a year…I think some issues ran a bit late, if I recall correctly). Also, there was a Teen Titans crossover, and, of all things, a Crisis on Infinite Earths-engineered Blue Devil crossover, and an appearance in DC Comics Presents, so that probably helped in the perception of the comics’ apparent length.
The other thing that dawned on me was that the series wrapped up while I was still in high school, which doesn’t feel weird for anyone but me, I realize, but still, it seems like it’s more recent than that. Ah, well…tempus fugit, and all that.
I’ve since picked up the remainder of the series, which of course includes the first appearance of Lobo (which guides at a low $7.00, which sort of surprises me, except I suppose Omega Men print runs at the time were fairly large), and despite the occasional terrifying Kevin O’Neill art job, those earlier issues were fairly staid compared to the outright craziness of the McManus-era stories. Still fun, and worth checking out if you can find ‘em cheap, which they usually are.
• • •
Just to let you folks know, I’m probably entering Low Content Mode for the rest of the week, or at least lower
content mode…the Thanksgiving holiday is coming up, and I’ve also got another project I’m working on at the moment that requires the focus of my creative energy, he said in a hopefully non-New Agey way, so probably you’ll not be seeing much more out of me this week aside from maybe a pic or two. Or you can follow me on the Twitter
where I’m still likely to spout off about something. At any rate, I’ll see you on the other side, and please enjoy your Thanksgiving, where applicable, and everyone else, enjoy your Thursday. Thanks for reading!
• • •
the end of the post! I was wondering where that was.
So thanks for your responses to my question yesterday…I really wasn’t quite sure what I had to say on the topic, and I’m still not quite sure, but I think I can at least circle the runway even if I don’t land.
Anyway, this particular thought process was kicked off by a comment to my Saturday post, in which I claimed it took the return of the character of Doop to finally get me to pick up a copy of Wolverine and the X-Men. And reader Chance left his response, quite rightly chiding me slightly for not being moved to read said comic simply by the presence of writer Jason Aaron and artist Mike Allred, both of whom are quite formidable talents.
My reply to Chance was that, while there are plenty of creators out there whose work I do enjoy, I don’t necessarily have a desire to read every single project they do. I think Aaron, for example, did a swell job on Punishermax and I liked his run on Incredible Hulk. And Allred…I was a big fan of Madman and The Atomics for quite a while, though admittedly I kind of…I don’t know, burnt out on them, I suppose. It’s not you, baby, it’s me. But it takes a lot to get me to buy into the X-franchise nowaways, and the last time I regularly read any X-titles, it was New X-Men by Grant Morrison and his army of artists, and X-Force/X-Statix *starring Doop* by Peter Milligan and that Allred guy.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough that Allred and Aaron were on the book to get me to pick it up…but it didn’t hurt, either. Had it been just them and no Doop, probably no sale. But that it featured Doop, and it was illustrated by Doop’s original cocreator, and it was written by a writer whose work I have enjoyed…all those facts together got me to pull the trigger on grabbing this book. And even then, I still sorta hemmed and hawed over it for a couple of days. Well, it’s not like I tossed and turned in bed nights on end, drenched in sweat, haunted by the existence of this comic book, agonizing over my decision. But I’d see it on the rack at work, think “hmm, wonder if I should pick that up,” and then finally just decided “ah, what the hell.”
But Chance’s question did open me up to thinking about what creators I do follow without question, whose names I see on books and pick up without pausing to wonder if this was a project I’d be interested in. To use a couple of names that I mentioned in this category yesterday…let’s say someone like, oh, say, Fantagraphics has picked up the rights to that old Chaos Comics character Purgatori. (Okay, stop laughing, work with me here.) It’s been a while since I mentioned Purgatori around these parts, but…that’s a character I’ve never much cared for. I’ve often commented here that I think it’s a terrible character and a terrible comic, which…okay, I know the character has its fans, and I shouldn’t just harshly dismiss it like that, so let’s just say the Purgatori property has been firmly established as not being something in which I’d have any interest. Ever. For any reason.
So let’s say Fantagraphics gets the property, and they eventually announce at a San Diego Comic Con a new Purgatori graphic novel by Los Bros. Hernandez.
Would I buy it? Absolutely I would buy it. Are you kidding?
The Hernandez Brothers have, over the (gulp) decades I’ve been following their work, totally gained my trust. Everything they’ve been involved in, I have enjoyed. And I know enough about them and their creative talents to know that, if anyone could rehabilitate the character of Purgatori in my theoretical example to the point of making me want to read a comic with her, it would be these guys.
Reader philfromgermany noted in his comment, after listing the creators he always follows, that the indie artists and writers usually are working on projects they themselves developed, as opposed to some of the folks who frequent Marvel and DC books who might end up on established properties one might be indifferent to or outright dislike. And I think that’s an important distinction, and one I was sort of pondering when I was trying to write this post for Monday. Though that’s not to say there aren’t lines that can’t be crossed…one indie book comes to mind by a creator I almost always followed which promoted a bunch of previously-debunked conspiracy hoohar…a great disappointment.
But creators working on their own material does do away with some expectations a reader might have toward any given project, depending mostly on one’s appreciation of that creator and trust in his/her storytelling talents. A new original Dan Clowes graphic novel, sure. A Batman graphic novel by Dan Clowes…well, okay, that sounds amazing, but if you really, really hate Batman, even the most pure, unadulterated love you have for Mr. Clowes may not be enough to get you to pick it up. But I have picked up superhero books I’d had no previous interest in because of creators involved…like that run of Birds of Prey written by Gilbert Hernandez, which remain the only issues of that series in my collection.
I’m probably contradicting myself all over the place here, but what can I tell you. I have complicated feelings about funnybook buying. But outside of Aragones, the Hernandez Brothers…um, Clowes, and Chester Brown probably, and someone mentioned Jim Woodring in the comments, so I’m probably good with that too…there aren’t that many people who get a full, complete pass with me in the comics I buy.
Of course I simply can’t afford to read everything, but there are still plenty of names out there that grab my attention, if not necessarily my comic-reading dollar. You can get me to look, but not everything is going to be up my alley. (There’s at least one artist whose style I do really enjoy, but the only thing in recent memory he’s done that I actually wanted to read was, um, a while ago.) Picking and choosing what I read I think gives me a lot healthier relationship with this hobby than simply buying every single thing that comes out that may involve an artist or writer I’ve enjoyed in the past. Sometimes it does come down to a Doop appearance to get me to fish out that wallet.
Okay, I’m not sure if any conclusions are drawn, or if we learned anything today. But Chance’s question stirred up some thoughts that I tried to lay out here in my usual exceedingly verbose and sloppy fashion, and I certainly hope he doesn’t take this as an attack or an overly-defensive response. Thank you, Chance, for inspiring me to explore, just a little bit, some of the strategies some of use in making our comic-buying decisions…and giving some of us an opportunity to think about those creators whose work always gives us joy.
So you know how it is when you’re working in a comic book store, and you have this big ol’ pile of old comics you’re processing for the back issue section, and there are a whole lot of issues of Love and Rockets and Eightball in said pile, and you think to yourself “well, I have all these, and they’re really good, but it’s been a while since I’ve looked at them…I should pull them all out and read them again” and of course you don’t really have any time to do any such thing, you’ve barely had a chance to finish reading new comics from last week or the week before, not to mention this Complete Peanuts 1985-1986 which is still awaiting your attention, now you want to add Eightballs and Love and Rockets you’ve already read to the pending read-these-soon stack too?
I think you know where I’m coming from. But apparently I have time to watch TV, because I just watched all of the first season of the new BBC Sherlock series over the last couple of nights, and it turns out it’s quite good. Have you heard of it? You should check it out sometime. …And of course watching that makes me want to whip out far too many Sherlock Holmes books from my shelves, by Doyle and those ones not by Doyle where Holmes turns out to be a time-traveling alien and that sort of thing, and reread those, too. The end result is that, somehow, I need to increase my reading speed, which is already excessively fast, or I need to somehow slow the rotation of the Earth and thus lengthen our days to give me more reading time, or I can somehow talk the boss into letting me stay home and read and he pays me anyway. …So, slowing the rotation of the Earth it is, then.
And there’s that stack of other books sitting on the table next to my bed I need to get through, and let’s not even mention the electronic book-tablet thingie my parents gave me for my birthday a few months ago, and the backlog of books I’m trying to get through on that.
I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “but Mike, maybe you should just not acquire so many things to read, maybe pace yourself a bit” but we should really focus on realistic ideas on how to handle my little problem here. More caffeine and less sleep seems to be the only logical and healthy response.
• • •
Anyway, speaking of people getting too much stuff to read, my New Zealand pal Bob
is back from his trip (which required guest-bloggers for his site, resulting in this excellent “piece of [in-depth criticism]”
from yours truly), and he details the swell bunch of reading material
he picked up during his travels. …Hmmm, a couple of those things sound pretty good. I should pick ‘em up myself.
So at work, we had some kind of insane virus end up on one of the store computers which took me more time than I really cared to spend trying to clean out the system and make sure the damned thing was gone. And then, a day or two later, I had yet another computerized brouhaha at home which required hours of maintenance and reinstalls and such, and I’m pretty sure that’s when I hit my breaking point and said “screw it, I’m tired of staring at computer screens.” And that’s when my vacation from the Internet began.
Yeah, I know, a whole three days, wooo, big deal. But for someone who’s been obsessing about updating his website daily for about 8 1/3 years, it did feel like kind of a big deal, at least to me. And while I was avoiding computer usage at home, I actually was feeling a tad…anxious, maybe? Upset? …Whatever it was, there was certainly an undercurrent of something bothering me regarding not updating the site, even at the same time I was realizing that I needed to step away from it just a bit.
It wasn’t just computer problems that drove me into my mini-sabbatical. There’s a hint in my last regular post where I mentioned that I was nodding off at the computer working on my post for the next day. …I’ve done that more than once over the years, given that my available free time to work on the site is generally in the evenings, prior to going to bed. Sometimes, when I have an idea for a post all ready to go, it doesn’t take much time at all to put it together, and I get it all done right quick and I’m off to dreamland.
However, sometimes I find myself just sitting there, looking at the screen, no idea what I’m going to write or post, and it takes forever to come up with something, and instead of sleeping, or maybe reading something, or just plain relaxing, I’m agonizing over what to put up on my site for the next day. And that’s not something I really can do any more.
I used the word “obsessing” above, and that’s not an inaccurate description of how I was treating this website of mine. I was obsessed with making sure I had a post. Every. Single. Day. whether I really had anything to say or not, and the only way I was going to break myself of the habit was forcing myself to not post for a few days. And it should probably come as no shock to you that, more than a few times during my break, I thought to myself “well, maybe I can write up a few posts and backdate them for the days I missed to keep my streak.” …Yeah, I know.
I’ve said before, early on, that my need to post every day was generated by a recommendation I read somewhere about regularly updating your site, so that readers will come to expect new content and maintain your traffic. I really did have this fear that if I skipped a day all my readers would dry up and my site would just wither and die. …It’s a bit heartening and sobering to see that my site’s traffic didn’t take a hit at all during my brief break, probably because 1) three days isn’t really enough to make a difference, 2) people were still popping in to see if I’d returned yet, and 3) people finding my site via Google searches for dirty pics and nekkid celebrities don’t care if I update or not. (For you #3 folks, sorry, this is all I’ve really got for you.)
Of course, the other side of the argument is that posting too much will discourage and drive away readers, and…well, I don’t think there was much danger of that happening here.
In typical Progressive Ruin fashion, that was a long row to hoe for me basically to tell you: I’m not going to be on a strict daily schedule anymore. Forcing myself to post every day doesn’t do me any favors, and I’m sure it doesn’t do most of you any as well. Does that mean I’ll never post every day for an entire week? No, of course not. Does that mean I might only post one day a week? …Unlikely, but it could happen, depending on outside forces, life demands, and maybe when Grand Theft Auto V comes out.
And of course it doesn’t mean that from now on, because of the occasional extra time between posts, every new entry on my site will be some in-depth, thoughtful essay on the subtle symbolism of the color yellow in Justice League Dark. It may just be something silly. (Well, sillier.) I’ll post when I feel like it…not because I have to, but because I want to. It’ll increase my enjoyment of the site, and hopefully it’ll increase yours as well.
I like doing this site. I don’t want it to be a chore. And I want to keep it going. And I like interacting with all you folks. But I also want an evening or three, or four, during the week where I don’t need to think about feeding the beast.
Anyway, that was a lot to read, and if you made it this far, thanks for putting up with me. I apologize for just up and disappearing for a couple of days, but I hope you understand. And, as I’ve said before…I promise, if the day should ever come when I actually quit the site, I won’t leave you hanging. If I’m able (and not, you know, unfortunately deceased or something), I’ll tell you folks when the site is done.
It’s not done yet.
I’ll see you all…well, on Saturday, I think. Yeah, Saturday.
So the general reaction from our customers to the onslaught of DC #1s quickly making its way to us has ranged from interest and excitement to “I’m giving up on DC.” It’s been a bit hard to predict just how these books are going to do, as customer response has been so mixed. And I just know that, no matter how much promotional material we put into folks’ hands, there’s gonna be at least one regular customer walking into the shop in September who will be shocked…shocked…that DC started all their books over from #1.
Anyway, I thought I’d go through the list of all these #1s and let you know what I plan to get. Or am thinking about getting. …Because it’s my weblog, that’s why.
Justice League #1 – I don’t think it’s any stretch to assume that, of all the new DC #1s, this will be the big one. It’s being released by itself at the end of August (along with the last part of the Flashpoint mini that’s leading into the big changeover) and surely most folks will be picking this up out of sheer curiosity, to see what exactly the new DC Universe status quo is going to be. That’s certainly a big reason why I’m picking it up…well, that, and it’s not like I’ll be buying a whole lot of DC Comics that week. (I’ve not been following Flashpoint, though that same curiosity may have me checking out that mini’s last issue to see how it’s setting everything up.) But I also tend to pick up whatever new iteration of Justice League happens to pop up, even if I end up not following it for long.
Action Comics #1 – I’ve been reading the main Superman titles for probably about 30 years now, through thick and thin, through mulleted Superman and Electric Superman, so I’m not stoppin’ just because they restarted the series from the first issue. Plus, it’s Grant Morrison on scripting chores, and I do like the Morrison.
Animal Man #1 – Speaking of Morrison, I was a big fan of his run on Animal Man, and I kept on with the title after Morrison’s departure, which maintained its sense of weirdness while still further developing Buddy Baker’s family life. I have a bit of fondness for the character still, whetted by that Last Days of Animal Man mini from a couple of years ago, so I’m going to give this a try. Plus, Jeff Lemire is writing, and more on that under the Frankenstein entry.
Justice League International #1 – This is in the “maybe” pile, as the main reason I’m interested in it is that it features Booster Gold written by his creator, Dan Jurgens. I was quite enjoying the Booster Gold series DC had been publishing of late, and sadly it was not one of the titles to make the transition to the new army of #1s. And I’m sure we’re not getting “The Adventures of Booster and His Justice League Pals,” so I don’t know how much actual Booster content will be in each issue. But, I’ll give it a look.
Swamp Thing #1 – Well, duh.
Batwoman #1 – The only Bat-book I’m buying (aside from Justice League International, which isn’t quite the same but you know what I mean). Being purchased primarily for the art of J.H. Williams, who has been doing absolutely beautiful work with this character.
Demon Knights #1 – Was going to be a “maybe,” but I’ve got every other Demon comic, so, heck, might as well pick it up. Plus, it’s written by Paul Cornell, and having enjoyed his recent stint on Action Comics, I imagine I’ll enjoy this series as well.
Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 – Wouldn’t have considered this, except the War Rocket Ajax crew convinced me to pick up the Jeff Lemire-scripted Flashpoint: Frankenstein tie-in, and that was a hoot. Lemire is writing this new series as well, so I’m definitely putting it on the buy pile.
Green Lantern #1 – Green Lantern is like Superman, in that he’s one of those characters/concepts I’ll usually always follow (though admittedly I skipped most of those Kyle-Rayner-as-GL years in the ’90s). I like how this series is starting, with old GL archnemesis Sinestro roped back into the Green Lantern Corps and starring in this book, but of course Hal Jordan will be back in the saddle in short order. In the meantime, though, I’m really looking forward to this book as Sinestro has always been one of my favorite supervillains.
Mister Terrific #1 – Probably picking this up, as I liked the character in Justice Society. Not much else to say, really, other than I like the idea of the hero, the world’s third smartest man, facing against a villain who’s one of the world’s two smarter dudes.
Red Lanterns #1 – Giving it a go because it’s a Green Lantern tie-in, but…not sure if I want to read a book where the entire focus is on the violent and angry Lantern corps. Fine in a supporting role, not sure I want 20 non-stop pages of it. Unless it’s the solo adventures of Dex-Starr, of course.
DC Universe Presents #1 – First story arc stars Deadman, and I’m always up for a Deadman story. Continued purchase of the series depends on which character they follow up Deadman with. I vote Adam Strange. Or Metamorpho. Or hell, both of them in the same adventure.
Green Lantern Corps #1 – Again, GL fan, so I’ll pick up the book. Hey, Kilowog is in it. I’m pretty sure I have the complete Kilowog collection.
The Fury of Firestorm #1 – Another one of my favorite characters, and I’ll always read a Firestorm series. I’m not even sure I can explain why Firestorm is a favorite character of mine.
Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 – While I like the idea of multiple-colored Lantern corps, I like them better as support characters in the other GL titles, rather than starring in their own book. (See also Red Lanterns above.) This is stretching the franchise just a little too thin, I think…but the three GL series that had been running before were selling great, even after the movie came out, so what do I know.
Justice League Dark #1 – Because John Constantine is in it. And Deadman. …I expect this comic will be very peculiar.
Superman #1 – The one Superman title taking place in “current day” (as opposed to Action, focusing mostly on Superman’s early years). It’s written and drawn…well, laid out…by George Perez, so I expect I’ll enjoy it, but it’s gonna be a while before I’m used to that new Super-armor costume.
…And that’s it, really. I may poke my nose into some of the other #1s to see if they grab my interest. I may try out the new Aquaman series, for example, or give a look to the new Jonah Hex title All-Star Western.
I am curious which titles will end up catching on. There are a few that seem doomed from the get-go, and others that will almost certainly undergo an immediate creative team change once it becomes obvious the monthly schedule just ain’t gonna happen. And while it’s a safe bet titles like Action and Green Lantern will have healthy sales, what about the second-stringers? Which of the not-so-big-name titles are going to be the breakout hits? It’ll be very interesting to see what thrives and what withers, particularly given the large number of new series and the limited consumer dollar available to purchase all these. I certainly hope every single title sells enormously well, but sadly we’ll being seeing a lot of bodies left at the side of the road as this publishing initiative progresses.
So subscribers to Mike Sterling’s Progressive Ruin, Premium Edition may have seen an early release of yesterday’s post with a few embarrassing typos, for which I apologize. All I can say is “don’t write posts for your weblog when you’re really, really tired.” Anyway, thanks to an alert by a helpful reader, the errors were fixed by the time the Progressive Ruin Free Edition was distributed.
If you’d like to sign up for the Progressive Ruin Premium Edition, here’s what you get:
- The secret phone number for the Mike Sterling Hotline, with prerecorded messages from me, just for you, about life, love, and dealing with the little problems that drive us all crazy!
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- And this personalized and hand-signed color photograph, suitable for framing!
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• • •
In other news (assuming you’re still reading):
- Thursday afternoon, I was gifted with two wonderful, wonderful things.
First, from Kid Chris, this swell Blue Demon matchbox/refrigerator magnet purchased during his last visit to Tijuana:
Kid Chris informed me that he had the following exchange with the little girl who was selling these:
Kid Chris: “El Santo…es bueno?”
Little girl: “El Santo es fabuloso!
I think we can all agree on this.
Later in the day, pal Casie brought in a big plate of cookies with the following homemade and completely awesome Christmas tree ornament attached:
Oh man, this makes me want to run out and chop down a tree so I’d have something to hang it on, which is, um, a tad ironic, considering. Plus, the picture is green and red, so it’s totally Christmas-y!
- So anyway, read this article about the forthcoming “death” in the Fantastic Four comic, and then immediately follow that up by reading this post I wrote in 2007.
I wonder if we’ll get any bump in sales on this comic from the general public. I suspect this gimmick’s been pulled often enough that even the non-fans are as jaded as the fans when it comes to the “in this issue [Big Name Superhero] dies!” hoohar.
- Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my readers!
So anyway, I did this as a quickie gag for a couple of friends in email, and the files have been sitting on my desktop for a few days, so what the heck, here you go:
Just grabbed the pic via the Googling, so hopefully I didn’t offend anyone with my repurposing his/her scan. It was for the purpose of creating a better world, my friend.
Anyway, in other news:
- Regarding that panel I posted yesterday…I felt a little funny picking out a panel by freakin’ Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman, for a bit of good-natured mockery. I mean, it seems almost sacrilegious, doesn’t it? Anyway, that panel was from a strip called “Federal Men,” which ran for quite a while in the various iterations of early Adventure Comics. You can read descriptions of some of the stories here. A reprint collection of these stories would be interesting, but I’m not holding my breath.
By the way, speaking of sacrilege: here’s reader Todd with his slight reworking of the panel:
- Tom Spurgeon has some commentary from one of his readers about comic pricing and buying habits. In particular, there is some discussion about the likelihood of someone spending more than $20 a week on comics in the late 1980s. As someone who entered the high-finance world of funnybook retailing in the late ’80s, I thought I’d supply a brief bit of anecdotal…well, perhaps not “evidence,” but it may be of interest.
Starting about the mid-’80s, and off and on through the late ’80s, our shop had a box of overstock and/or deadstock comics by the register with a sign on it that read “FREE COMIC WITH $20 PURCHASE.” And, it is my memory that the $20 level was originally picked because 1) it wasn’t a price level that was normally breached terribly often by the majority of customers, but 2) it was close enough to what a significant portion of customers were spending that the hope was that they’d plop another comic or two on the pile to hit $20 and qualify for their free comic.
Now…and please consider, I’m working off decades-old memories here…I believe that we had some, but not a lot, of customers slapping on additional comics to get to twenty bucks, but that eventually we had enough people already buying twenty dollars’ worth of stuff without going back and grabbing an extra book or two that they got their free comic anyway. And, eventually still, sometime around the big Batman movie-fueled boom, we did away with it completely. (I suppose we could have just raised the price level to, say, $30 or $40 for the free book, but at the time rivers of cash were flowing through the direct market and thus, perhaps the need to encourage additional sales in that fashion was no longer as strong.)
Later, we briefly did a “spend $50, get a free poster” thing along these same lines, which I’m pretty sure was in the post-market crash years of the mid ’90s. And that tells me that, even though the high-livin’ days of the boom were long gone, the customer base that remained was spending far more on average than they had pre-boom, so that $50 now seemed like the just-above-average typical sales level that seemed achievable.
My memory was that was more about clearing out old poster stock than hoping people would hit $50, which, like what happened with the $20 level, is something people gradually started doing anyway.
Wish I remembered more details about these things. Should’ve kept better notes.
- Speaking of our retail past: Chris Sims recently concocted this Comics Alliance article about comic book bumper stickers, and in the comments section to it, someone mentioned our old “U.S. OUT OF LATVERIA” stickers that we had at the shop. [NOTE FOR MY DAD, WHO READS MY BLOG: Latveria is the fictional country that the Fantastic Four’s arch-nemesis, Dr. Doom, hails from.] Now, I tried to respond to said comment with a link to a post on my site featuring said sticker, but alas, the CA comment machine does not like linkity-links, so instead I’ll post that link here.
And before you ask: no, I don’t have any more. Sorry, kids.
- More Comico history: the transition to color printing, including some early and neat-looking coloring guides for a page from the original Mage series.
- Pal Dorian does terrible things to an old DC subscription pitch. TERRIBLE THINGS.
- Employee Aaron’s fiancée Kempo whips out her 2010 San Diego Comic-Con report, with lots of photos of the two of them eating meals.
- I’d noted something on my Twitter the other day, and thought I’d repeat it here: you know what I’d like to see Christopher Nolan name the third Batman movie? The Caped Crusader. That’d be pretty awesome, right? Yeah, I knew you’d agree.