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This is kind of a weird post to kick off 2014.

§ January 2nd, 2014 § Filed under I have no idea how to tag this § 5 Comments

First, the new End of Civilization post will be up tomorrow. I spent most of my New Year’s Day relaxing instead of scanning things out of Previews. What can I tell you? I certainly got a lot of Mystery Science Theater 3000-watching in.

Second, I’m still looking for your comics industry predictions for 2014…please take note of the rules, as I’ve already had to delete a comment or two from folks criticizing other predictions. Please don’t do that. Also, that one person who thinks he’s being funny by insulting me? Yeah, I’m not putting up with that anymore.

Third, I was going through some old Wacky Packages stickers to put on the eBay, when I came across this one, a scan of which I’m not posting on my site because I’ve got enough problems with hotlinkers using me as their image hoster. Anyway, please enjoy the dirty joke on that sticker sold to children back in 1975.

Fourth, I was goofing around on the Twitter recently, because I can. Here are a couple examples of said goofings:

Caveats: no idea if dirt is more common than rocks. Didn’t research the joke. I’m pretty sure Death of Superman comics are right in there, though. Also, I’m not as cool as the hashtag in that second Twittering may make me seem. I realize that’s a great disappointment to a lot of you.

Lastly, thanks to Tom Spurgeon at the Comics Reporter for including me — specifically, this site’s tenth anniversary — as one of the 100 Positive Things about Comics for 2013. That was awfully nice of him.

So, anyway…back tomorrow with an End of Civilization post. ARE YOU READY FOR THE WORLD THAT’S COMING?

The post that would not end.

§ November 19th, 2012 § Filed under archie, batman, blogging about blogging is a sin, collecting, dc comics, does mike ever shut up, everyone's going to hate me, giant-size man-thing, golden age, how the sausage is made, I have no idea how to tag this, indies, linkrot, newspaper strips, other swamp creatures, retailing, scans, swamp thing § 16 Comments

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!

• • •

Oh, here’s the end of the post! I was wondering where that was.

“Just old and stupid since 1969.”

§ April 18th, 2012 § Filed under I have no idea how to tag this § 22 Comments

So I saw in my site referrals a particular Google search (“comic books stupid”), which I then searched myself to see what would come up, and lo, there was this question on Yahoo Answers:


I like all the assumptions being made there, like there’s this incredible cachet of “coolness” surrounding the reading of comics. Seeing movies based on comics, sure, or maybe watching TV shows about people who read comics, but actually reading them? C’mon. And I’d like to hear more about the “good ones like ‘Spiderman’ and ‘Xmen.'” that the questioner apparently likes, in contradiction to the tone of his inquiry. They sound sort of similar to Spider-Man and X-Men…I wonder if Marvel knows about them?

Anyway, some of the responses to the question are pretty good, if occasionally veering into the “yeah, that’s not helping” realm. Then again, I shouldn’t be so quick to judge, because I was sitting there thinking how I could explain why I like comics, and…well, I can’t really articulate it. I mean, I could probably explain why I like certain comic books, or why I like particular genres of comics, but even then my explanation may not get much farther than “because Green Lantern has this awesome ring that does anything he wants and it’s awesome, yeah I said ‘awesome’ twice, shut up.”

But as to why I like comics in general? I don’t know. I simply like reading, whether it’s just words, or words with pictures. I think most people like comics, even if it’s just reading the funny pages in the newspapers…I’m sure people still do that, even if it’s perhaps not the universal experience it once was.

Maybe I just was never conditioned to not like comics, to not dismiss an entire storytelling method because someone told me it was stupid or worthless. And that I found enough of value in this medium that when I did start to get exposed to people who thought comics were worthless, I realized they were wrong. Not that every single story was a treasure, of course, but that comics were no more or less worthy a medium than any other. A bad TV show doesn’t invalidate television any more than a bad comic book invalidates comics.

Preaching to the converted, I know. But it did get me to wondering, as I said, how I would specifically explain why I like comics. An appreciation of the craft of cartooning, and the usage of drawings to communicate a story? Or, like one of the respondents to the original inquiry stated, “the unique experience of visually experiencing a story on paper.” Or on iPads, nowadays.

I could be going about it the wrong way. Perhaps my answer to “Why I Like Comics” should be “Jack Kirby. Carl Barks. Bernie Wrightson. Ramona Fradon. The Hernandez Brothers. Gilbert Shelton. Curt Swan. Charles Schulz. Sergio Aragones. Paul Chadwick. John Severin. Shary Flenniken. Mike Mignola. Jim Starlin. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.” And so on.

While I may not have a particularly pithy or detailed explanation as to why I like the comic book medium beyond “I enjoy stories told with pictures,” I do know that I would have missed out on a lot of great work if I’d rejected comics outright. Plus, I wouldn’t currently have a room full of Swamp Thing merchandise in the house…which probably also falls under the previously mentioned “yeah, that’s not helping” category.

The mystery word balloon.

§ October 4th, 2011 § Filed under I have no idea how to tag this § 4 Comments

So a gentleman dropped by the store with a few pages of original comic art for sale…we don’t really deal in original art, but we brokered a deal between that person and one of our regular customers. He ended up buying a Kirby Hulk page from the fellow, and passed on the other pages — a couple of Carmine Infantino pages from a 1980s Green Lantern back-up story, and a Gil Kane page I only got a brief look at and didn’t identify.

I wish I did identify the Kane page, because the next day I happened to spot this underneath one of the store’s glass counters:


It’s a word balloon that had apparently been pasted onto a page, though clearly the glue had become old and the balloon popped right off. It’s not from the Green Lantern back-ups, so it must be from the Gil Kane page. The dialogue suggests it’s from Wonder Woman, though the page didn’t seem to be a Wonder Woman page just from my brief glance at it. Could be wrong, though.

Anyway, I’m hoping this customer of ours has the contact info for the gentleman he bought the art from so I can return this loose balloon to its proper place. Also, slightly curious to see what the original balloon said that this new one was covering. Oh, and what comic this is actually from, too, I suppose.

Sometimes I post things just to get them out of my head.

§ May 30th, 2011 § Filed under I have no idea how to tag this § 11 Comments


AWESOME!

 
 

GNARLY!

 
 

TOTALLY RAD! …well, actually, it is kinda rad

 
 

BODACI…wait, what?

 
 
 
 

images from All-Star Squadron #63 (November 1986) by Roy Thomas, Mike Bair & Mike Machlan

Due to circumstances beyond my control…

§ March 14th, 2011 § Filed under I have no idea how to tag this § 5 Comments

…I have to be up early Monday morning to take care of some stuff, so my Sunday evening blogging time is…well, non-existent, really. So, let me leave you with this:

1. Thank you for your kind birthday wishes yesterday. And also happy birthday yesterday to my birthday-brother, Andrew!

2. Please wish my sister Jeanne happy birthday, as it is today. Well, the 14th, which it isn’t yet as I’m writing this.

3. Reader Brian unleashes this image in honor of my and Andrew’s birthday.

4. As promised a couple of days ago, when I was plugging our book Write More Good: here is one full chapter for you to read and enjoy. And I certainly hope you do.

In which Little Lulu is disappointed.

§ June 23rd, 2005 § Filed under I have no idea how to tag this Comments Off

One of the things I noticed about selling underground comics on the eBay is that, every once in a while, we’ll end up selling some undergrounds to the cartoonists that originally did them. Just thought that was interesting.


This is the greatest description of Supreme Power I’ve ever read, cut ‘n’ pasted as-is from the forum I found it on:

“Supreme Power takes a spin on popular characters like Superman Batman Wonderman Flash and Green Lantern. In this book tells for instant what if instead of a couple that found him as a child the goverment did. Batman is a black man who is prejudice against anyone that is white. Flash is black too. Wonderwoman walks around naked alot.”

It’s…it’s like poetry. And, strangely enough, fairly accurate.


Yesterday, Kid Chris showed my website to me on his internet-capable cell phone, with the itsy-bitsy pictures, and the text that scrolls by in the little window about five or six words at a time. Now, I’m a very fast reader, so trying to read a website in cell phone display-sized chunks would drive me bonkers in short order. If this is how any of you out there look at websites (including mine, where I do tend to go on a bit), well, my hat and/or camel-hair toupee are off to you, my good man. Or woman.


Release of the week: Little Lulu: Sunday Afternoon from Dark Horse Comics. The pages are numbered in this edition, so hopefully that prevented any out-of-order story pages like in the previous volume. It’s great stuff, as usual, and when was the last time you saw a panel like this in a “kid’s” comic?



Fan-tastic.

§ December 18th, 2004 § Filed under I have no idea how to tag this Comments Off


GALACTUS



Giant alien

May eat your planet, but still

What a rad helmet.

GORILLA GRODD



If a thing exists

Cooler than an ape villain

I don’t want to know.

KRYPTO



A dog in a cape

With heat vision and flight is

Sublime in beauty.

LOCKHEED



Owning a dragon

Would be nifty but also

Still kinda dorky.

Sources:

Galactus from Fantastic Four #173 (Aug 1976) – art by John Buscema & Joe Sinnott

Gorilla Grodd from Who’s Who in The DC Universe #9 (Nov 1985) – art by Carmine Infantino & Bill Sienkiewicz

Krypto from New Adventures of Superboy #22 (Oct 1981) – art by Dave Hunt & Romeo Tanghal

Lockheed from Uncanny X-Men #181 (May 1984) – art by John Romita Jr. & Ron Zalme