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You never know when I’m going to call YOU with questions about Cap’n Quick & A Foozle.

§ June 9th, 2017 § Filed under low content mode, pal plugging, question time § 1 Comment

Okay, to follow up on Chris Gumprich’s Cap’n Quick & a Foozle question from a few days ago, on whether or not it sold:

Yes, I did speak to my old boss Ralph about it, and his initial response was “…boy, that was a long time ago.” What he remembers, however, appears to jibe with my semi-educated guesses, that it sold okay at the time, due to 1) being a different kind of comics market then, with more people sampling oddball indie titles, and 2) being created by Marshall Rogers, who was an active “name” artist then (and not the gone-too-early legend he is now). Not a huge seller or anything, but did well enough. At any rate, we agreed it probably moved units that Marvel and DC would probably kill for now.

• • •

Blogging sister Tegan has the latest installment of her essays up at her site: “Tegan and Sara Made Me Queer” is #11 in a series, and you can encourage this sort of behavior by contributing to her Patreon, like I know I do.

• • •

Sorry for the short post, but your pal Mike needs to get some of this “rest” he’s read about in books. I’ll be back Monday with more of this exciting typing you’ve come to know and love!

Frankly even the top-selling comic book would have at best “a cult following.”

§ May 29th, 2017 § Filed under question time § 4 Comments

THE QUESTIONS, I’M BACK AT ‘EM:

Mikey Wayne lays the following on me:

“In light of the promises/suggestions that both the JSA and Legion of Super-Heroes will soon rebirth themselves into comic stores everywhere:

“For each team, which member would you most like to see rebirthed and why? If you could choose the creative teams for each book, whom would you choose?”

For the Legion of Super-Heroes, that’s easy…I’ve said before I’d like to see a Brainiac 5-centered Legion relaunch. Brainy as the cool, rational, scientific center surrounded by the utter madness of “Bouncing Boy” and “Matter-Eater Lad” and so forth, just trying to do his job despite all the crazy nonsense in which he finds himself mired. As far as a creative team…I’m always bad at picking out folks for this sort of thing, but I feel like Warren Ellis would make this absolutely bonkers. He’d give us a Brainiac 5 that actually seems like he’s intellectually superior to everyone around him, I’d think. And yeah, he’d probably be all bastardly-like, but not on purpose…he’s trying to be helpful, to fit in, but he’s so far beyond everyone else that he comes across as kind of a jerk without meaning to. (As opposed to some previous portrayals, where he pretty much was a jerk.)

For an artist, I’d say…well, so long as we’re playing pretend here, Paul Chadwick. I’d love to see the 31st century as drawn by him…I’m picturing a more futuristic sci-fi version of his series The World Below. Like, weird to the point of being creepy, which I bet Ellis could work with quite nicely. Man, now that I’ve described it, I’d love to see it.

With the Justice Society o’America, that’s a bit harder to choose. I really want to say Jay “Golden Age Flash” Garrick, but the Flash family is already pretty mired in the whole “Rebirth” thing and I’d prefer a character that’s a little more standalone. I’d maybe say Wildcat, partially because I think pal Dorian rubbed off on me after all these years and I would like to see a new, ongoing title starring his favorite character. I don’t really have a hook for the character as such, except even as I started typing this sentence the creator “Matt Wagner” came to mind and I can totally see Wildcat sorta remodeled by him into a Spirit/Shadow/Green Hornet-ish type crime fighter. I mean, he’d still totally be a boxer who puts on his Wildcat outfit and goes out to punch crumb-bums what need punching, don’t get me wrong. But Wagner could make just that much weirder, with only the occasional intrusion from the superhero element (maybe treated as a more supernatural occurrence) but with plenty street-level action with gangsters, creeps, dames, and beat cops. I would read that in a heartbeat.

• • •

Dani makes me retreat with

“Mike… one thing I’ve been wondering… just between us nerds… What exactly did you say to Encyclopedia Brown to make him snatch out your eye?”

Friends, sometimes running jokes from my beloved BBS days of decades ago follow me into the wide world of the internets.

…But basically what I told that Brown guy was “BUGS MEANY IS RIGHT.”

• • •

Chris Gumprich wonders

“1. Have you noticed an uptick of non-comics people coming in and asking for comic versions of the various DC-TV heroes?”

This is sort of a variation of the question “do the movies help comic sales?” and the answer is generally “not a whole lot.” The movies and TV shows increase awareness of the characters, certainly, but as discussed in the past, people who are fans of comic book movies and TV shows don’t suddenly acquire the “go to a comic shop on a regular basis” lifestyle. That’s not to say I haven’t had the non-initiated come in and ask for Supergirl comics, or grab Flash off the shelf. There is a slight increase, but compared to the number of people who get all the Flash and Supergirl adventure they need a couple of dozen weeks out of the year, it doesn’t seem like a whole lot. But, you know, a little is better than nothing!

“2. Do you think CAP’N QUICK & A FOOZLE would sell today? Did it sell in 1983?”

Well, for the latter part of the question, I’m going to have to say “I don’t entirely know,” since that was about five years before my entry into the world of comics retail. I’ll have to ask my old boss Ralph when next I talk to him, so I’ll update you later. My guess is that it sold…okay, in that this was the early days of the indie market still, and the black and white boom and its subsequent effect of making people not want to buy indie books was still in the future. Probably people were experimenting a little more with trying out different things, and Cap’n Quick & a Foozle may have benefited from that. Plus, Marshall Rogers was still a draw, so it may have sold just on his name alone. Again, I’d have to ask someone who was there to be sure.

Would it sell today? This is going to sound bad, and it’s no reflection on the great work of the late Mr. Rogers, but the answer is probably “no.” It’s too hard for any new titles to get real traction, so just by pure percentages, a series, particularly a weird-ish indie series, may get a small cult following but probably wouldn’t sell all that greaet. Just too tough of a market nowadays. Maybe “Cap’n Quick and a Zombie,” or “Deadpool and a Foozle.”

• • •

Andrew Davison schools me with

“If Swamp Thing falls over in the forest, and there’s no’one around to hear him, does he make a sound?”

Now, in the similar question regarding a tree falling in the forest, with no one to hear…in that case, I would say it doesn’t make a sound. If no one, meaning the lack of presence of ear canals that can interact with the resultant vibrations caused by the tree’s impact that can in turn be translated by an attached brain into what could be interpreted as “sound,” then no, no sound was made. The potential for sound is created, but no “receivers” as such exist to covert that potential and have it be recognized as sound.

However, Swamp Thing has anywhere between one and two ears, depending on who draws him, so he’d hear himself making a sound as he fell. I mean, assuming he’s real, and not just drawings on paper, of course.

You probably thought I forgot about your questions, didn’t you?

§ May 24th, 2017 § Filed under question time § 6 Comments

Okay, it’s been exactly a month since I last dipped into the most recent question pool, so let’s knock out a couple right here:

William Burns lights a fire under my butt about

“Do the Black Mask Studios comics sell much for you?”

They do…okay, I suppose. Some better than others. There was a while there, a year or two back, where the investor-types were looking into new releases from indie companies for their next fortunes. It’s still happening to a somewhat limited extent, but mostly with, say, Aftershock and Scout, possibly because nobody’s quite sure how to order on a lot of these, meaning if one catches one, any given store is likely to be caught short.

But with Black Mask, Four Kids Walk into a Bank and Young Terrorists still get a small bit of attention…in fact, I just turned a customer on to the latter title, and he thinks it’s great, so, you know, they’re still capable of finding new readers. It’s hard, though, in the current marketplace, to get any sort of traction, but I’m glad companies like Black Mask, and Aftershock, and the rest are still hanging in there.

• • •

Rob Staeger grills me with

“I’ve recently been reading a bunch of old Warlord issues. They’re so enthusiastically batty! I was wondering what your thoughts are on Mike Grell and the evolution of his career. Are you/were you ever a fan?”

Sure, I liked Mike Grell well enough. I wasn’t a huge follower of Warlord but I had this digest collecting his several-issue battle with his wizardly arch-nemesis Deimos, and that was pretty good. I tried the monthly series for a while (though at this point I can’t remember if Grell was still involved with the series or not) but I didn’t like those single issues as much as that digest, so I didn’t keep reading.

I don’t know if I would say I was a “fan” in that I was a devotee of his work, but usually his art was professional and effectively presented the the stories it was illustrating, like in Green Lantern or in Legion of Super-Heroes. I haven’t read Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters in a while, so I don’t know how that holds up…all I seem to remember are some unfortunately violent bits that may not have aged well in the nearly 30 years since its release. And I read Jon Sable Freelance for a time, too, and the “usually” qualifier I used just a moment ago applies to this title, as the art got a little…sketchier that I preferred in the later issues of this series. I never did get around to reading Starslayer, though I own several issues for the Grimjack back-up stories and that early appearance of Groo the Wanderer. Should probably look at the stories in the fronts of those books someday.

Overall, I think his work is fine. I know he’s done a few covers for the recent Green Arrow series, and those have been nice. I can’t recall how much interior work he’s done of late (aside from a couple of those Arrow TV show tie-ins), but I wouldn’t mind seeing his storytelling in action on a regular basis again. I mean, if they can give Neal Adams regular Batman and Superman minis for him to be his Neal Adams-est, why not give Grell a short-run Green Arrow or Green Lantern (or Green Arrow AND Green Lantern) series? I’d read that.

The garden of funnybook delights.

§ April 24th, 2017 § Filed under question time § 1 Comment

Let’s dip back into the ol’ question pool for our next inquiry, coming from young Matthew Digges:

“Having been in comics retail for as long as you have, I imagine you’ve seen just about everything. Is there anything recently that filled you with surprise and/or delight?”

Goin’ on just about thirty years now in the ol’ comics retail game, he said all folksy-like. And it can be very easy, working behind the counter, to get a little jaded, to lose that sense of wonder and excitement, as you have to consider order numbers and sales and other business-type stuff just to keep the doors open. The trick is not letting that get in the way of the actual enjoyment of the art form, which of course you need to have in order to make informed decisions about all that running-the-store rigmarole.

It’s hard to be surprised by things, too…even back in ye olden tymes when I was but a mere customer, like many of you, I still had access to ‘zines and publisher handouts and such that kept me informed as to what was coming. That was nothing compared to today, with an internet rife with spoilers, and solicitation information easily accessible, and…well, I don’t have to tell you. Very few surprises catch us off guard any more, since most everything is telegraphed one way or another in advance. Even Marvel is ballyhooing some last page “internet-breaking” reveal in a new comic they’ve got coming up, so 1) we’re already primed for something at the end of that comic, and 2) now we get to spend a few months guessing what it is, and more likely than not overthinking and over-anticipating what that actual surprise is.

On the other hand…that’s just “surprise” over events and gimmicks and the like. I can still be surprised by picking up a comic I wasn’t planning on reading and getting immediately sucked in. The most recent example was Curse Words by Charles Soule and Ryan Browne. Now, I like pretty much everything I’ve read of Soule’s work for DC and Marvel, but even so I wasn’t planning on picking up Curse Words…’til I read the small preview I was sent, which hooked me immediately and now I’m regularly recommending that comic to customers. Now that’s a surprise, getting a comic I didn’t think much about before beyond “I wonder how many I’ll realistically be able to sell on the shelf,” suddenly becoming one of my favorites.

Or the recent Flintstones reboot from DC…I planned on at least looking at the debut issue because I liked the artist…but that first issue was so different from what I was expecting I really didn’t know how to feel about it at the time. Since then, it’s become one of, if not my favorite comic of the past year, and I never thought I’d be saying something like that about a Flintstones comic. That definitely put Mark Russell on my “always buy work by this writer” list.

Now, for just plain “delight” at a comic’s very existence…well, I tend to enjoy all the comics I take home to read. But certain comics do stand out, mostly from amazement that they actually exist in today’s marketplace. The main one I’m thinking of here is Popeye, IDW’s ongoing reprint series of the original Bud Sagendorf Popeye comics of the 1950s/60s. That it’s lasted this long is shocking to me, but I’m glad it’s still here, showing off Sagendorf’s classic cartooning. In fact, a lot of IDW’s recent reprint work is great, such as reprints of 1950s mystery comics in Haunted Horror, or the complete reprinting of Berke Breathed’s Bloom County family of strips. Getting access to material like this is always a surprise and a delight.

There’s another aspect that I was going to say is unique to being a shop owner/employee, but upon a moment’s reflection, I realize it’s just another side of the same coin. As a comics shopper, I would get excited at looking through a box of unsorted, unknown comics, at a store or at a convention, not knowing what strange wonders I may find within. I get that same feeling now, when someone brings in boxes of comics that they’re hoping to sell to me. Yes, there’s a part of me that immediately responds with “oh boy, bet it’s another run of Brigade,” but there’s something about sorting through a long box of comics, wondering if there’s going to be anything unusual or neat about to pop out at me. It could be a Giant-Size X-Men #1 that I can sell for a lot of money in the shop, or it can be some rare fanzine that I don’t already have in my ‘zine collection. You never know!

And then there’s that feeling of finally filling that one hole in the collection. That’s always a delight, no matter how long you’ve been doing this.

So yes, Young Matthew, I can still be surprised and/or delighted by comics. This doesn’t even bring up how happy I feel when there’s, say, a new issue of Groo that’s out, or more Love & Rockets, or that Walt Simonson is doing a series based in the Norse legends. But there’s still plenty of joy to be had in the comics field, if you look.

“Star Wars demoted to bimonthly” is hard to imagine now, too.

§ April 17th, 2017 § Filed under captain america, pal plugging, publishing, question time, retailing § 6 Comments

Back to your questions:

Argh!Sims arghed:

“Since you and GregA were discussing it on the Twitters and all … Did you find any more info about the proposed cancellation of Captain America back in the ’80s? That was at least a minor deal back then, and I seem to remember it was going to end around 300, with Cap being aged and having his ‘final’ victory over the Red Skull”

Yup…Twitter pal Greg posted a scan of a news item from an old Amazing Heroes (#69 from 1985, to be exact). I hope he doesn’t mind me borrowing said scan to present it here, since I’m too lazy to scan it myself:


My memory at the time is that is was kind of a minor deal, as you say. Mostly surprise that Marvel would even think about ending one of their…well, maybe not a flagship title, as such, but certainly a long-running title with one of their most famous, if not top-selling, characters. You know, back in the day when every ongoing series didn’t get relaunched every 18 months.

And yes, I did spend some time going through subsequent issues of Amazing Heroes trying to find any kind of follow-up on this announcement, as well as going through the Amazing Heroes Preview Specials that would preview the next few months’ worth of content for individual titles. Alas, I couldn’t track down what I was looking for, which was confirmation of my vague-ish memory of someone at Marvel basically saying “hey, we realized that we couldn’t cancel Captain America, of all titles — that would be be crazy!” I said in the Twitter thread that followed that my belief was that said cancellation might have been forestalled by licensing deals that might have been dependent on Marvel continuing to publish and support the character, but that’s just a mostly uninformed assumption on my part.

Anyway, I am relatively certain that it was said somewhere, in some news story or interview, that the cancellation of that particular title was reconsidered because of the nature of the character and its importance to Marvel. And, if I recall correctly, I think it was also said by someone that the title wasn’t actually in danger of cancellation, and that its inclusion on the list above was a mistake. Now, I owned and have read a lot of comic ‘zines over the decades, so I don’t know where exactly I saw all this…or even if I did, since I should probably accept that possibility. If anyone has more specific information, feel free to let me konw.

• • •

Old pal Brandon wants to know

“Have you ever been witness to a major collapse of shelves or avalanche of comics?

I have seen some pretty precarious shelves in the backs of comics shops before and it was always a concern of mine going into the back room of your old place of employment (though admittedly that was purely anxiety driven).”

Well, true enough, the shelving in the back of my old place of employment was very end-of-Raiders of the Lost Ark-ish, with shelving stretching up to the ceiling, filled with countless comic boxes. It was all quite sturdy and secure, however, and in the three different locations that store had while I worked there, I don’t believe there ever was a major collapse or shelf failure.

Now, that one time someone busted in through the ceiling to steal some…uh, Witchblade and Spawn comics, I thought maybe some of our bookshelves out front were knocked over, but from the look of things it was just a huge mess made by broken ceiling tiles and insulation.

The only time I can remember any sort of in-store shelving collapse was a hook busting loose that connected a shelf to its supporting unit and a bunch of books falling off. No life-threatening epic disaster stories to tell, thankfully. But here’s something to tide you over:

• • •

In completely unrelated news…pal Andrew could use a little assistance, if you’re able.

Top of the Swamps.

§ April 10th, 2017 § Filed under question time, swamp thing § 4 Comments

Okay, I asked you for questions and/or topics, and you gave me some, and I’m going to start taking a crack at ’em today. And, if you want to add to the list…feel free!

Anyway, Rich asks

“How would you rate each of the various eras of Swamp Thing, in terms of the work each writer-artist team did during their tenure?”

Well, sure, Rich, start me off with something easy, why don’t you?

Now there’s the thing…I think, almost inarguably, the two pinnacles for the character are the original Len Wein/Bernie Wrightson comics from the 1970s, and the Alan Moore/Steve Bissette/John Totleben/etc. of the 1980s. Trying to pick which one is better than the other is almost impossible. Perhaps the Moore-era books are more effective in evoking a more modern-seeming feeling of horror, but they wouldn’t exist without the groundwork of the Wein/Wrightson stories. Also, few are the people who were better horror artists than Bernie Wrightson. In a way, both runs tread similar ground, in that they explored some of the more traditional horror themes (witches, vampires, werewolves, haunted houses, and so on) while giving their own particular twists on the topics.

Getting down to it, though, if I had to pick one over the other, I’d give the nod to Wein/Wrightson, setting the bar so high right out of the gate, which is probably mixing metaphors a bit but you understand what I mean. It’s because of them that we expect a certain standard of quality out of our Swamp Things, and it’s disappointing when that level isn’t reached. Moore ‘n’ pals would be a very close second, building on Wein/Wrightson’s creation and updating the storytelling for current sensibilities. Ideally, if someone were to ask me which Swamp Things they should read, these would be the ones.

As for the portions of the series by other creators…well, they all succeed at certain things in their own ways. The issues that followed Wrighton’s tenure featured beautiful artwork by Nestor Redondo…while the comics are not the legendary classics of the preceding issues, they are still excellent in their own right, and only probably overlooked now due to their lack of reprints (a situation about to change with the forthcoming omnibus).

The Marty Pasko/Tom Yeates run that opened the Saga of the Swamp Thing series that returned the character to newsstands is one worth revisiting as well. Its lengthier storyline, pulling together a new cast of supporting characters and giving more of a focus on ongoing subplots, was one that, if I recall some of the letter columns correctly, met with some resistance from older fans of the character. Things were maybe a little too wordy, and subplots stretched out a little too long, for their tastes, though I suspect that’s more a generational change in reader expectations from serialized comic books. Multi-part soap opera-esque stories were more the norm at DC as the 1980s rolled on, perhaps inspired by the success Marvel had along those lines in their own books. Looking back, the initial story wrapped up after only 13 issues, which…well, come to think of it, many stories nowadays come in 5 to 6 issue easily-trade paperback-able chunks, which are only approximately half the size of this Swamp Thing story. But, the point is, people are more used to not getting done-in-one stories in their comics today, which they weren’t back then, which may have affected their perceptions of this then-new Swamp Thing comic. Particularly since it couldn’t help but be compared to the classic ’70s run, which was mostly self-contained stories with only the barest minimum of subplots connecting issues together.

That’s all discussion about structure, not content, I realize. I think Pasko/Yeates put together a fine run, presenting effectively scary stories within the confines of the Comics Code Authority that weren’t necessarily variations on traditional horror topics…okay, there were the punk rock vampires, but there was also a story about Vietnam vets, a story inspired by a then-recent spate of child murders, a medically-themed body horror story, a weird alien-possession tale, and the whole storyline ending up with [SPOILER ALERT, I guess] Swampy going toe-to-toe with the Anti-Christ, which was probably not something anyone expected, but there it is. It wasn’t the Swamp Thing of the 1970s we were used to, but Pasko/Yeates certainly expanded the character’s scope, paving the way for the Moore/Bissette/Totleben stories to follow.

I hadn’t yet touched on the stories Bissette/Totleben did with Pasko pre-Alan Moore, but I think I’ll do so in Part II of “Mike Discusses How Good or Bad Certain Runs on Swamp Thing Were.” Yeah, there’s going to be a part two. At the very least. And I may eventually mention how this particular topic may be related to the special Patreon-only (at least temporarily) content I was talking about a while back. Stay tuned!

“You people bring questions for Mikey?”

§ March 30th, 2017 § Filed under question time § 28 Comments

Well, I was planning on doing some comic reviews, but ran myself out of time and energy, so I’m gonna put those off ’til tomorrow. But, in the meantime, since I’ve been thinking about doing this lately, I’ll go ahead and do it right now: let’s do Question Time again, where I welcome (hopefully comic book industry-related) inquiries from you, the people who haven’t realized you’re not supposed to be reading blogs anymore, and I answer them to the best of my ability. Or you can just suggest a topic you’d like me to discuss…at any rate, please just one question/suggestion per customer, deposited right here in the ol’ comments section.

Like the last time I did this, I won’t be answering your questions all at once in a week-long series of too-long entries here. Instead, I’ll probably address one or two topics per post, interspersed amongst the regular content and features of Progressivelyruinated.edu, such as “It’s the End of Civilization Already Again” and “Your Weekly Moment from Frank Miller’s The Spirit,” over the next few weeks or months or possibly eons…we’ll see.

Anyway, you guys ‘n’ gals usually cook up some good Qs for me to A every time I do one of these, so I’m looking forward to what you have to say. What, a website actually looking forward to comments? What decade is this? Again, please, one question or suggestion per person, gently placed in this welcoming receptacle. Thanks!

“You drive to the Final Order Cutoff, get out of your car, cut off your Final Order….”

§ July 22nd, 2016 § Filed under question time, retailing § 3 Comments

Okay, he also has some pog-related questions there, but I’m not quite ready to tackle those yet. However, PTOR has the honor of having the last question from that last Question Time post from all those months ago, and that question is THIS:

“How do you keep on top of Diamond / Previews constant ‘newly announced product’ and ‘just now added-on variants and reprints’ that are announced DAILY (with their own dedicated web pages on the Previews site)?

“I’m just a guy trying to keep up with the solicits of pretty much ONE CHARACTER (Doctor Strange, natch) and the constant newly announced stuff is hard to consistently track.
How do you do it for your entire store’s new inventory?”

It’s actually not as bad as it seems. Yes, there’s a constant stream of emails and announcements and whathaveyou, but when it comes to actually ordering all these different items, there’s generally only one or two places to go.

In the Diamond retailer website, you’ve got the Final Order Cutoffs page, where you can adjust your initial orders on comics and toys and other products from select vendors…generally Marvel, DC, IDW, Dark Horse, Image, Zenescope, and some others. Usually any newly announced variants or reprints from these companies will get listed here. This is the place where, if you noticed that your order of 100 copies of X-Squirrels isn’t selling very well on the rack, and you feel like your pending order of 75 copies of issue #2 is going to be way too much, when that issue shows up in the Final Order Cutoff listings you’ll have your chance to drop those numbers down to the far more reasonable 5 copies you should have ordered in the first place.

Then there’s the Previews Plus order page, where all the new products…not just comics, but pretty much everything Diamond carries…show up for your ordering pleasure. Sometimes there’s overlap with the Final Order Cutoff page, but if there is whatever numbers you may have placed will be shown here too. But generally this is the place where you put in your numbers for new product that didn’t show up in the monthly catalog.

Pretty much all new product that Diamond announces shows up in one place or the other. There are rare exceptions, such as the rush print job DC tried to do on the 2nd print of DC Universe Rebirth. We were told to contact our sales rep directly with orders, as, due to its rushed nature, it would not be in the Final Order Cutoff listings.

Occasionally there are special lists made available for other new products (like offers for some San Diego Comic Con exclusives), which are made obvious to anyone logging into Diamond’s site. Like, literally a banner across the top of the page telling you “HEY, PLACE YER ORDERS ALREADY, SHEESH.” Well, maybe not in those words exactly.

And then there are periodic liquidation sales and other special offers, which either show up in email or just when you go to Diamond’s site, but that’s for previously-available product and not quite as vital, but definitely welcome. You just kinda have to keep an eye out for those.

New product, though…the announcements come all the time, but there’s really only a couple of places to put in your orders, so it’s reasonably easy to keep up on that stuff.

And now that I’ve revealed all these secrets to you, PTOR…I’m afraid I’m going to have to kill you. Nothing personal. But that’s just how it goes in the world…of comics retail.

Most of these had print runs that some big publishers would kill for today.

§ July 13th, 2016 § Filed under indies, question time, reader participation § 9 Comments

So a few of you had some suggestions re: good comics from the black and white boom, including several that I own and of course couldn’t dredge up from my memory to include in the initial post.

kiwijohn mentioned a couple of titles that I enjoyed, like Border Worlds by Don Simpson:

bworlds4cvr

…a serious science fiction adventure/mystery from the creator of Megaton Man, that, as kiwijohn noted, never got to complete its story. Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve read this…I still have ’em, in what remains of my personal comic collection, so when I have a moment I need to poke through them again. As I recall, the art was gorgeous in this series.

Another kiwijohn mentioned was Xenozoic Tales:

xenozcvr

…probably remembered by a good chunk of the population as Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, a somewhat more commercial name for marketing purposes. Written and drawn by Mark Schultz, and boy, what drawing! The word “lush” was pretty much invented to describe Schultz’s art. There were a number of spin-off comics under the C&D title published by Topps Comics in the ’90s by other creators…can’t say how good those were, but the original Xenozoic Tales is the stuff.

Iestyn Pettigrew is aghast, aghast I say, that I didn’t mention The Trouble with Girls:

twgcvr

…and Iestyn is correct, I should have mentioned it, as it’s a hoot. It’s a parody of manly-man adventure novels/movies/etc. (by Will Jacobs, Gerard Jones and Tim Hamilton) in which our hero, Lester Girls, just wants a quiet evening in with a relaxing book but is constantly beset by spies, ninjas, terrorists, beautiful but deadly ladies, and all your other typical baddies that you’d find in your typical James Bonds or your Executioners or your Destroyers and so on. All very hilarious. Most of it was published by Malibu/Eternity, but it was briefly in color at Comico Comics, and there was a color mini-series at Marvel during one of its short revivals of the Epic Comics imprint. A side note: I think because of our proximity to the publisher, at my previous place of employment it seemed like copies of the first Trouble with Girls paperback collection were always showing up in collections. And not always just a single copy…I think I remember a dozen or more turning up at once in the same assortment. Go figure.

Matthew mentioned To Be Announced:

tbanncvr

…a series that I actually did try to collect. You’d figure, only being seven issues long, it wouldn’t be that hard, but I am still missing a couple. The comic is primarily by Mike Bannon, who was one of the cast of regular characters in the old Cerebus letter columns and is probably the main reason I sought this comic out. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve read the issues I do have, but I recall being amused by it and I’m sure someday I’ll get around to completing the set.

Hooper mentions Neil the Horse, which I talked about a while back, as well as Tales of the Beanworld:

talesbean7cvr

…also noted by MrJM in the comments, and which I’ve also discussed many times in the past on this site. It did come out during the black and white boom, but I always forget that since the comic is just so unlike anything else on the stands. It’s hard to picture it as part of a “movement” (or “phase,” or “fad”) when it’s totally its own weird thing.

That Augie character (who just hit his 1000th Pipeline column…congrats!) mentions Nervous Rex by William Van Horn:

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…and Van Horn, some of you may best know as one of the primary American creators of new Disney Duck comics in the ’80s and ’90s, along with Don Rosa. As an avid reader of the Duck comics during that period, I was very familiar with Van Horn’s work there…but I already knew his name from his children’s books, which I’d encountered during my librarian days. Nervous Rex was one of those comics I’d always meant to look into, as the old job had most, if not all, of them, but just never got around to it, sadly. They always looked like they were delightful.

Anyway, there are a few others mentioned in the comments and I’m going to see if I can add any more personal favorites to the list in my next post. And if you have any more suggestions, you know where to leave ’em!

This post brought to you by Tom Peterson.

§ July 11th, 2016 § Filed under question time § 24 Comments

Nearing the end of the Qs here for me to answer:

Bretsector went no other way with:

“From one Yummy Fur fan to another…any hidden gems from the B&W boom/bust of the 80’s? I’ve been going through my old long boxes and found old Aircel, Fish Police, TMNT clones, Cynicalman, Giant-Size Mini-Comics, Poison Elves, Underwater, Caliber Press, etc. and wondered if any other one else on the planet still had a soft spot for some of these floppies?”

Funny you mention Yummy Fur, as I just came across those in my collection the other day (the personal collection in my somewhat less-vast Mikester Comic Archives, not the collection at Sterling Silver Comics, located in maybe too sunny Camarillo, CA) and paused for a moment to reflect on how long it took me to finally complete the run (with the last issue I needed coming from Scott McCloud’s collection, believe it or not). Yummy Fur was a fine, oddball series, but one I started reading just a little too late, and didn’t start picking it up ’til about issue #10 or so. At the time, most of the back issues were readily available, at least around here, and there was an eventual trade collection, so I at least had the full Ed the Happy Clown story (but not the Bible story back-ups or the letters pages).

But that’s not what you’re asking about. I entered the comics retail world in the late ’80s, after the peak of the post Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-inspired black and white boom that began a few years earlier. I mean, I was buying comics, of course, but didn’t have the perspective of actually having to deal with stocking the things, or not stocking, as the case may be. Judging by later perusal of store backstock, former boss and then-provider of my funnybooks Ralph ordered fairly conservatively on the small press b&w titles. He did order them, because, y’know, you can’t sell ’em if you don’t have ’em, but he didn’t do anything like that one poor bastard I saw at a convention once, desperately trying to unload his longboxes full of Shadow of the Groundhog.

Okay, that’s still not you’re asking about. I was attracted to the small press stuff, having had an early fascination with do-it-yourself amateur publishing (both comics and prose), so I’d at least peruse the indies and see what caught my eye. One of my favorites from that period was…

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It’s Science with Dr. Radium by Scott Saavedra, published by Slave Labor Graphics starting in 1986 and running on and off, via minis and one-shots, ’til the early 2000s. Silly jokes, bad science, time travel, Elvis-worshipping alien invaders (called, of course, the Elvi) and fine cartooning by Mr. Saavedra. This was a good’un. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve exchanged correspondence with Mr. Saavedra over the years, and he sent me this swell Swamp Thing drawing some time ago, and he’s even visited my new shop…but I assure you, my love for Dr. Radium was fully established long before any of that happened. Honest!)

Also recommended from the b&w boom period was PURT’NEAR ANYTHING BY MARK MARTIN:

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An identifying characteristic of the b&w boom, in addition to the [adjective] [adjective] [adjective] [animal] rip-offs of the Turtles, was parodies of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Mark Martin’s various Gnatrat comics (Gnatrat: The Dark Gnat Returns, Happy Birthday Gnatrat, Darerat & Tadpole, and Gnatrat: The Movie) ran from 1986 ’til 1990, and unlike a lot of the parody comics, were written and drawn with some real wit and style, getting some out-loud laughs while managing to go some fairly dark places, too. They really didn’t look or feel like any other comic on the market, and Martin would go on to do some pretty amazing comics work after this.

Stig’s Inferno by Ty Templeton was another good’un:

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…though, sadly, the series was ended before the story was completed. As you might infer from the title, it’s about a fella named Stig who ends up journeying through Hell (without his pants) and hilarity ensues. Wonderfully drawn, with busy panels and funny background gags and well worth seeking out. And you can seek it out here on Mr. Templeton’s official site, where issues are scanned for your reading pleasure.

The last one (for now, ’til I can think of more) may seem a bit out of place, and probably not that obscure, given that it’s one of the first two publications to come from Dark Horse Comics:

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…yup, Boris the Bear (begun in 1986 by Mike Richardson, Randy Stradley and James Dean Smith), which I think kinda belongs here as the first issue is clearly a reaction to the influx of Turtles knockoffs and parodies flooding the marketplace at the time. And by “reaction” I mean “Boris straight up murders thinly-veiled characters from other black and white comics.” It’s all in fun, more or less, and clearly cathartic, though I wonder if I was actually in the retail end of things at the time, how much more cathartic it would have been. Anyway, Boris continued on through Dark Horse and other publishers, generally parodying (usually in a less violent manner than the first story!) a different aspect of the comics world in each issue. Of note is a gag in issue #2, where a Portland, OR street scene is covered with “Tom Peterson” signs, which I would not have understood if I didn’t have a good friend who was a Portland resident at the time (and still is!), and had already explained to me who Mr. Peterson was. (And also had sent me a “Moon over Portland” postcard with Peterson’s face in place of said Moon.)

These are just a few that immediately came to mind. I need to dig further through the collection and see if there’s anything a little more on the obscure side that I can feature. Like Ant Boy:

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You said you liked Cynicalman, Bretsector? Here’s another comic by Cynicalman’s pappy, Matt Feazell. Well worth seeking out both issues!

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