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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:


…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:


…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:


…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:


…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:


…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:


…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!

In which I ask YOU a question.

§ May 18th, 2016 § Filed under question time, reader participation § 53 Comments

Gareth volleys the following at me:

“What’s the best comic book story that’s told completely in a single issue?”

WELL SURE THAT’S AN EASY QUESTION…uh, hoo boy, lemme think. I know my favorite superhero story is Justice League of America #200, but it’s basically a sequel to the team’s origin issue so not really “complete” as such. And it’s basically a framework to get heroes to fight and show off the work of several talented artists, so…yeah, I don’t think this counts. And then there’s Spider-Man’s origin in Amazing Fantasy #15, which I think is still the Most Perfect Superhero Origin Story of All Time, but…I don’t know, that’s setting up a follow-up series, but even if that were the only Spider-Man story ever published, I think it would still stand up as a classic example of the genre.

But I think I’m going to go with “Only A Poor Old Man” by Carl Barks, from Four Color Comics #386 (1952), in which we learn that Uncle Scrooge’s attachment to his fortune isn’t greed, but rather the memories each coin brings him. Also it’s the example of Scrooge fighting the Beagle Boys, and the whole thing is just perfect. It’s been reprinted many, many times, most recently by Fantagraphics, and there was a Free Comic Book Day version of the story released in 2005, if you can track that down.

• • •

Okay, the next question in the list is going to take a bit of effort to answer, but in the meantime, I’m kind of curious what your answer to Gareth’s question might be. So, let me know in the commentswhat do you think is the best comic story told completely in a single issue? Yes, that’s right, I’m soliciting responses to a question while I’m still answering other questions. HEY, I CAN MANAGE IT. But please, let me know…I’m curious as to how you’d answer this tough question.

Yes, I know those characters over at War Rocket Ajax are doing their “Every Story Ever” list, but the entries there run the gamut from single issues to full series to even sequences in comic strips. But here, let’s keep it to single issues of comic books…no graphic novels, or trade paperback collections of minis, or what have you. Just one story, in one comic book, with a beginning, middle, and end. Even if that ending is “…THE BEGINNING” in which case you have your work cut out for you explaining why this is so great.

So again, drop that suggestion in my comments, with a few words of explanation if you’d like, but you don’t have to. In a while, I’ll tally up results or at least comment on your responses in my usual overly-verbose fashion.

“Thank God we can’t tell the future. We’d never get out of bed” – Tracy Letts

§ January 4th, 2016 § Filed under predictions, reader participation § 52 Comments

And away we go again, for that most anticipated event in what’s left of the comics blogosphere, the Progressive Ruin Foretell-the-Future Hootenanny! Please leave your comic industry predictions for what may happen in the far-flung future of 2016 (“aren’t we already in 2016?” “SHHHHH”) in the comments section for this post while hopefully not completely ignoring these simple rules:

1. Don’t read the other predictions before entering your own.

2. Don’t criticize other people’s predictions.

3. Don’t predict any real person’s death.

4. Limit of three predictions per person, please! (Seriously, just keep it to three…and if you have only one, that’s fine. Really. ONE’S GOOD.)

I’ll start looking at your predictions last year for 2015 in the next week or so, and we’ll see how everyone did. Or at least see how much attention I’ve been paying to industry events as I fumble to properly respond to everything.

Anyway, you guys ‘n’ gals always put in a great effort with your prediction submissions, and I really appreciate it. I look forward to your submissions for this year, so go ahead and dump ’em, or gently place them, in this comments section. As usual, thank you so much for your participation!

image from Adventure Comics #317 (February 1964), reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 2 (1992), by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte

Hey, why not, couldn’t sell worse than Doomed.

§ September 22nd, 2015 § Filed under reader participation, swamp thing § 1 Comment

In response to my post mentioning a theoretical Swamp Thing’s Kung-Fu Force book come these entries from Twitter pal MrJM:


…who apologizes for conflating kung-fu with karate, and from longtime ProgRuin supporter Paul Di Filippo, who created a sequel of sorts to this issue of Master of Kung-Fu:


“I don’t try to describe the future. I try to prevent it.” – Ray Bradbury

§ January 5th, 2015 § Filed under predictions, reader participation § 51 Comments

It’s once again that time at the ol’ Progressive Ruin Dot Com Comics Discussion Parlor and Prognostication Palace for you to predict what waits for us in the funnybook industry in this, the Year of Jack Our Lord 2015. Please put your predictions in the comments section for this post, whilst following these most simple of rules:

1. Don’t read the other predictions before entering your own.

2. Don’t criticize other people’s predictions.

3. Don’t predict any real person’s death.

4. Limit of three predictions per person, please!

2015 is already underway, some of you may have noticed, so get your predictions in quick before they shockingly come to pass!

Of course, this also means I’m going to start covering your predictions from last time over the next, oh, say, three or four months, so you might want to prepare a meal or three to keep your energy up as you read all 500,000 words I’m about to dump on you.

Again, please put your forecasts into my comments section for this post, and after a few days I’ll lock everything away and see how we all did next year. Thanks in advance for what always turns out to be some very enthusiastic participation from you, my swell readers.

Back to the Future #4 (1992) – art by Gil Kane

So I haven’t done one of these in a while.

§ November 17th, 2014 § Filed under reader participation § 28 Comments

Ask me a question, preferably related to comics and the comics business, and I’ll do my best to answer it in a future post. If you give me a silly question, chances are about 50/50 I’ll give you a silly answer. If it’s too personal or if you’re obviously just trolling, I’ll ignore it…but otherwise, just throw ’em into this comments section and I’ll get cracking on them later in the week. Thanks, pals!

I particularly like Swamp Thing’s Popeye arms.

§ October 24th, 2014 § Filed under cranius, reader participation, sluggo, swamp thing § 2 Comments

So I received a letter at the shop yesterday from the possibly-pseudonymous “Sluggo Jr.” who, inspired by my most recent Swamp Thing/Sluggo mash-up post, sent along a page crammed on either side with pencil drawings, sometimes featuring best pals Swampy ‘n’ Sluggo teaming up, sometimes just Sluggo facing menaces on his own (like fighting a knife-wielding Charlie Brown and a bat-wielding Henry).

Here are a couple of samples:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do the “Cranius middle-finger” joke before. Well done.

I was only going to scan those two for now, due to time constraints — I’ve been working long hours, as you might imagine — but I just glanced again at the paper and have to present this one, too:

I could read about the adventures of Sluggo and Swamp Thing all day. Thank you, Sluggo Jr., for your fine contribution to the arts.

Here’s hoping none of you will be strangled by a green monster wearing an orange robe in the new year.

§ December 30th, 2013 § Filed under predictions, reader participation § 68 Comments

Well, here we are again. It’s the end of the year, and I’m asking you, yes, you, to give me your comic industry predictions for the nigh-imminent year of 2014. Please leave your predictions in the comments to this post, but please note New Rule #4 in the following bolded text:

1. Don’t read the other predictions before entering your own.

2. Don’t criticize other people’s predictions.

3. Don’t predict any real person’s death.


Sorry, gang, I need to streamline the process a bit so I don’t spend the entirety of 2015 responding to all of the 2014 predictions. Speaking of which…I’ll be going over your 2013 forecasts starting next week, so consider yourself warned.

Anyway, I always enjoy seeing what you have to say, so please, drop your ideas in my little ol’ comments section here, and I’ll sit on ’em ’til next year and see how everyone did then. Thanks, pals!

Adventures into the Unknown #12 (August/September 1950) – cover art by Ogden Whitney – image from the Grand Comics Database

“The future’s uncertain, and the end is always near.” – The Doors

§ January 7th, 2013 § Filed under predictions, reader participation § 49 Comments

So this week sometime I’m going to start going over your predictions for 2012 from last January, but first…let’s get your predictions for what’s coming for the comics industry in 2013! Please let me know what you see beyond the cloudy mists of time’s veil, or whatever, by dropping your predictions in the comments to this post.

As always, I have a rule or three I’d like people to stick to:

1. Don’t read the other predictions before entering your own.

2. Don’t criticize other people’s predictions.

3. Don’t predict any real person’s death.

We’ll see how y’all did next year, assuming I’ll still want to be talking about comics then and haven’t converted this site over to a deep sea fishing blog or something. Anyway, place your predictive bets and let’s see what happens.


image from Action Comics #276 (May 1961) by Jerry Siegel & Jim Mooney – reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1

I can only hope the Hernandez Brothers will forgive me.

§ October 2nd, 2012 § Filed under collecting, does mike ever shut up, reader participation § 4 Comments

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.

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