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Wes Craven (1939 – 2015).

§ August 31st, 2015 § Filed under obituary, swamp thing § 2 Comments

I know there’s no shortage of more impressive and better remembered films the man was responsible for, but, by God, Wes Craven brought Swamp Thing to the screen. Sure, the film may have its issues, and may have taken the occasional liberty with the source material, but it works anyway and I still am quite fond of it. And Roger Ebert liked it too, so there.

So long, Wes.

How I was never quoted in any kind of advertising or on any print edition for All-Star Batman and Robin, I’ll never know.

§ August 20th, 2015 § Filed under dc comics, obituary § 6 Comments

So the other day I sold a copy of the Superman: Krypton Returns trade paperback, and as I flipped it over to get the price, I noticed the following pullquote on the back cover:

“Superman is still super.”

And, well…yes, I know it’s a play on words meaning “Superman comics are great!” but it’s hard not to look at that and immediately parse it as “Superman still retains super abilities, hence the name ‘Superman.'” But that got me to thinking.

I’ve been quoted by publishers in the past, once or twice. I know I had a quote on the back of an AiT/Planet Lar trade, and I was quoted in this Previews ad for a Rick Veitch book. But boy, I think it’d be pretty neat to get quoted on the back of a DC graphic novel.

And thus…DC Comics or representatives thereof, if you’re reading this, hear me out. Now, you guys ‘n’ gals publish, what, four or five dozen Batman graphic novels and trade paperbacks a month? I might be rounding up a bit, but it’s a whole lot. You’ve got plenty of space to fill on the backs of all those books with pullquotes from, like, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or Modern Bride or whatever. Now, my little site here, Progressive Ruin Super Adventure Hour and Family Recipes dot com, may only have approximately three quarters of the prestige of any of those fine publications/organizations, but surely there’s room for just a few words from your pal Mike.

You can use this quote for any Batman book you’d like. I would be perfectly okay endorsing any Bat-title with the following words:

“Batman is still batty.”

                            –Mike Sterling,

Perfect for every Batman story, I’m sure you’d agree. If you want to save it for the eventual print collection of Dark Knight III, feel free. If you want to use it on every Bat-collection over the next year, well, who could blame you? Anyway, I look forward to your usage of this pullquote, DC Comics.

• • •

All seriousness aside: just as there is the Best Batman, there was also the Best Batgirl, Yvonne Craig, who sadly passed away this week. Mark Evanier has a pretty good story about her that you should read.

So long, Yvonne.

Phil Austin (1941 – 2015).

§ June 20th, 2015 § Filed under obituary § 3 Comments

So long, Phil.

images from The Three Faces of Al CD by the Firesign Theatre (1984) and The Firesign Theatre’s Big Mystery Joke Book (1974)

Christopher Lee (1922 – 2015).

§ June 12th, 2015 § Filed under obituary § 5 Comments

Oh man, just how amazing was this guy? From playing Dracula, to recording heavy metal albums in his nineties, to this terrifying bit of information, to this musical piece from an obscure superhero parody, to hangin’ with J.R.R. Tolkien, to…well, just Google him up, everybody‘s talking about the life this man had. And boy, did he ever have one. Pal Andrew speaks more eloquently about his impact than I ever could.

So long, Mr. Lee. You will absolutely be missed, but thankfully you left behind an immense body of work that we can continue to enjoy and remember you by.

stills from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002), just before Lee fights Yoda in a lightsaber battle. …CHRISTOPHER LEE FIGHTS YODA IN A LIGHTSABER BATTLE. C’MON.

Herb Trimpe (1939 – 2015).

§ April 15th, 2015 § Filed under obituary § 7 Comments

My earliest experience with Herb Trimpe’s work, at least as far as I was aware, was this issue of Marvel Super-Heroes #100. I was mostly a DC kid at the time, but I also liked buying extra-sized anniversary issues, which this was. The artwork was a lot more…grainy and lumpy and odd-looking compared to the seemingly more polished DC Comics I was reading, partially because of John Severin’s inking (a name I did know thanks to his work in Cracked). That’s not meant to be a negative description…the comic certainly captured my interest.

I became more familiar with his work as time went by, particularly after my entrance into comics retail. He was a good and dependable artist who worked on Hulk comics far longer than I’d realized, including the first appearance of Wolverine, and lived quite the eventful life even after mostly leaving the comics industry. (If you follow any link here, read that last one.)

Of interest to folks who may recall Trimpe’s ’90s work is this entry in Brian Cronin’s “Comic Book Legends Revealed” column, which Brian wrote directly in response to my long-held belief that Trimbe was asked to change his classic art style to one more closely emulating the then-popular “Image Comics” style. Read that article to hear the truth of the matter straight from the Trimpe’s mouth. (HINT: I may have been incorrect.)

So long, Herb.

Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015).

§ February 28th, 2015 § Filed under obituary, star trek § 1 Comment

Yes, I’ve posted this pic from that 1977 All About Star Trek Fan Clubs magazine before, but, you know, it’s been nine years, and I’m thinkin’ now is the right time to appreciate it again.

So long, Leonard, and thanks for everything.

Robin Williams (1951 – 2014).

§ August 12th, 2014 § Filed under obituary § 2 Comments

“My happy thought…

I got it! I got it! I found it!”

Hook (1991) was not much liked by critics at the time, as I recall, but I sure enjoyed the heck out of it then, and still love it now. I just rewatched it a couple of weeks back, in fact. That scene, that scene, when Peter finally realizes what his happy thought is, the one that will make him fly again…it gets me, every single time.

So long, Robin. Thank you for all the happy thoughts you gave to all of us.

• • •

Site note: sorry for the radio silence, as I’ve been ill. I’ll resume regular posting shortly.

Alan Moore only wished the transitions in his comics were this awesome.

§ November 4th, 2013 § Filed under obituary § 2 Comments

From Bat Lash #3 (Feb-Mar 1969), written by Sergio Aragones and Denny O’Neil, and drawn by Nick Cardy. I once saw a review of this comic that described the above panels as a terrible scene transition, but that person was wrong. Oh so wrong.

Mr. Cardy passed away last night. He drew some beautiful comics, including a whole lotta Teen Titans, and one of my favorite completely bonkers World’s Finest covers.

So long, Mr. Cardy. You did wonderful work, and hopefully people will continue to discover it for years to come.

Kim Thompson.

§ June 24th, 2013 § Filed under fantagraphics, obituary § 6 Comments

As I’m sure you know, Fantagraphics mainstay Kim Thompson has passed away at the far too young age of 56. I was a fan of Thompson’s work on The Comics Journal and Amazing Heroes, and of course have enjoyed many comics that he helped along the path of publication. Tom Spurgeon gathered together lists of some Thompson-related publications from fans here, and gives a more general overview of his contributions to the comics world here.

A few comics from the archives that have Thompson credited as editor:

Critters was Thompson’s funny animal anthology, containing a high-quality selection of material throughout its run. This issue, near the end of its run, was a follow-up to Mike Kazaleh’s sci-fi comedy Adventures of Captain Jack, catching up with a couple of cast members after the end of that series in a decidedly down-to-earth non sci-fi story. I see in one of the above links that Spurgeon mentioned Thompson’s dismay that Kazaleh didn’t have more exposure in the industry…well, I found Kazaleh thanks to Fantagraphics, and I’ve been a fan since. Once, at a local convention, Kazaleh was a guest, sketching Ninja Turtle after Ninja Turtle for kids, since that’s what he was working on at the time. I asked for a Captain Jack drawing, and he was so happy he almost insisted I take it for free!

I’ve spoken about Eye of Mongombo before…a bizarrely hilarious adventure book in the style of Carl Barks’ duck books, kinda sorta. Still not complete, but still completely great. Thompson is listed as editor, and if he was responsible for getting this published under the Fantagraphics banner…oh, man, thank you.

I miss seeing the occasional J.R. Williams comic from Fantagraphics, but I’m grateful for the ones we got.

I honestly don’t have a lot to add that hasn’t already been said more thoroughly and more eloquently by others about the passing of Kim Thompson. All I know is that his name was on a lot of comics and magazines I enjoyed, and I’m thankful for his efforts in bringing them to us.

So long, Kim.

Carmine, George, and Roger.

§ April 5th, 2013 § Filed under obituary § 5 Comments

So whenever I think of Star Wars comics, just, you know, as a general concept, and not as something specific I’m staring at on a rack or processing for the back issue bins, this is the cover that I picture:

The Star Wars comics were young Mike’s first regular exposure to the work of Carmine Infantino, and though in the past I’ve poked a little fun here once or twice at the somewhat off-model stylings of the Star Warriors in that series, they still remain some of the most memorable of my youth…almost certainly because of the work of Mr. Infantino.

Of course, I would come to learn and love his work on the Flash, especially in this wonderful issue that I read so often since buying it off the stands that I ended up having to buy a replacement copy a couple of decades later:

…And of course there were his Batman comics, Detective Chimp, Adam Strange, Elongated Man, and much more than I can easily list here.

Carmine Infantino passed away yesterday at the age of 87. So long, Carmine, and thanks for all the swell comics.

• • •

Another notable comics passing is George Gladir, one of the industry’s hardest working writers, having worked for both Archie Comics (cocreating Sabrina with Dan DeCarlo) and Cracked. To be frank, his was not a name I immediately recognized, but boy, did I read a lot of Cracked when I was a kid in the ’70s (the Nineteen-Seventies, you wiseacres) so certainly I must have been exposed to plenty of his work. My condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

And I would be remiss if I did not note the passing of Roger Ebert. The loss of his great wit and intelligence is a sad one, but thankfully he left behind no small amount of writing that will continue to entertain and educate us for a long time to come. It was he and his longtime reviewing partner Gene Siskel that introduced Young Me to the idea that film criticism was even a thing, and perhaps, even more generally, the idea that one’s entertainment can be thoughtfully considered and not just passively absorbed.

He was also a supporter of the silliness my friends and I perpetrated on Twitter, and his agreement to write the introduction to our book is one we are still infinitely grateful for.

Thank you, Roger, for everything.

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