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Diminished responsibility.

§ November 23rd, 2015 § Filed under self-promotion § 1 Comment

Oh, hey, the new Trouble with Comics Question Time is up, and the query of the week is “who is your favorite Alan Moore-created character that ain’t that John Consta-teen feller.” There may be a subtle hint as to my response in the corner box of my site, here. Or even in the title of this post. Or perhaps the big ol’ pic that heads the article I’ve linked to. Anyway, there’s that.

Yes, I Googled “giant book” to find the right tome to compare with the Puma Blues hardcover.

§ November 19th, 2015 § Filed under publishing, self-promotion § 4 Comments

So I was asked in the comments yesterday regarding the complete Puma Blues book if the “new” Alan Moore story in this collection was in fact the story from issue #20, published back in 1988. And the answer is, yes, the four-page story “Acts of Faith” written by Moore, and illustrated by Steve Bissette and Michael Zulli, is the one included. In fact, in the hardcover’s copyright information, it is specifically stated that only pages 44 through 47 of issue #20 are included in this volume (though see below).

I had forgotten that issue #20 of Puma Blues was an anthology issue, with multiple shorts (some only a page long) by a wide variety of creators, taking place in, or inspired by, the Puma Blues milieu. Creators include Peter Laird, Kevin Eastman, Rick Veitch, Dave Sim, Dan Day, Tom Sutton, and a whole lot more. From what I can tell, only the Moore/Bissette/Zulli story appears in the hardcover, along with Sim’s one-pager which is included with the hardcover’s introduction, and a page from the story “Pause” by Stephen Murphy, Zulli, and Bissette, included with Bissette’s afterword. As I recall, #20 was a benefit/tribute/something-or-other issue resulting from the Aardvark-Vanaheim/Diamond Comics brouhaha, which seems likely as the comic includes a timeline of events surrounding the incident.

Anyway, many of the contributions were pin-ups, and most of the actual stories were outside the main narrative, so you’re not missing any pieces of the plot if you only have the hardcover. But still, it’s something to look for after you’ve finished this Codex Gigas of a graphic novel.

I was also asked in the comments if I had any quality issues with the binding, and I have to say, no, not that I’ve noticed. Seems pretty solidly put together. It may be a different story as I enter, say, month ten of reading the thing, but it looks okay for now.

And in case you’re wondering, I did sell my shelf copy of the book in-store, after a handful of people picked it up and gave it a glance-through. More people than I expected actually remembered the series, after being gone well over a couple of decades, which honestly surprised me. Ultimately it went to someone who’d never seen the series before, and bought it on my recommendation after he spent some time paging through it. Hopefully he’ll like it and not come back and throw it at me in anger and disgust…that book could concuss a blue whale.

• • •

In other news: the latest Question Time is up over there at Trouble with Comics, and the question o’the week is “which work of Alan Moore’s is the most neglected?” Sadly, I cheated a bit and used a rewritten version of this post (which I do own up to in my contribution there). If I had time to actually write a brand-new entry, I might have picked Moore’s back-up serial from American Flagg! but it had already been covered in good detail here. Or maybe that pin-up he drew for that first Dark Horse Comics Godzilla black and white one-shot…that was pretty amazing.

But please go forth and take a look at my contribution there…it was based on a five-year-old post here, so maybe if you’d read it before you’ve forgotten it by now. Everything old is new again!

Was going to give them a little grief about the scare quotes, but that’s actually appropriate usage, I suppose.

§ November 9th, 2015 § Filed under advertising, self-promotion § 1 Comment

So recently I reclaimed a whole bunch of old MacUser magazines from my parents’ garage. I was actually just going to recycle them…in fact, I had actually dumped them into my parents’ recycling bin when nostalgia took over and made me pull ’em back out again and take them home for one last perusal before I dump them into my own recycling bin…or sell ’em on eBay, whichever I decide. Now, most of these are from around my college days, the late ’80s and very early ’90s, filled with reviews of Hypercard stacks, ads for external 300mb hard drives for $2500, and defensive lamentations regarding the 3% home computer market share. But I am enjoying the rereads, particularly the occasional column from the late Douglas Adams, a huge Mac proponent.

In the back page ad section for the June 1988 issue, I found this:

I’d never heard of this particular project, and can’t seem to find any trace of it upon the Internet. The ad claims the comic is “packed with professional graphics That [sic] can be cut, copied and pasted” which makes me wonder if this was some kind of elaborate clip art library packaged in a comic book story format. Or, perhaps, panels were assembled in multiple layers, and each layer element of the drawing can be separated out by an art program. Or maybe I’m overthinking it and they’re just saying you can cut ‘n’ pasted panels willy-nilly. That they compare it to other “art libraries” makes me think “clever clip art presentation” more than “comic book.”

Right off, the claim that it’s the first “computer comic book” is off, given that Shatter beat it to the punch by a few years (unless they mean “distributed by diskette” which, well, still would like some citations there but maybe they’re right).

A prison with guards that work “9-5” seems like asking for trouble. You’d probably need some kind of night crew for that, right?

“A story better than Superman” – well, I can think of a few Superman stories over the years that would certainly pale in comparison to a clip art collection.

And it’s good to know a Certificate of Authenticity for a computer disc doesn’t sound any more or less silly than, say, a Wizard #1/2 certificate guaranteeing that this isn’t some fake copy of The Maxx #1/2, thus frustrating the huge counterfeit Maxx market.

Plus, I’d forgotten 400k diskettes were even a thing at one point. I thought it was a pretty big deal when we moved on up to 1.44mb floppies. Who could possibly need more space than that?

Anyway, this was just some sort of weird thing I noticed and thought I’d share with you all out there. I wonder if this ever was actually released? If anybody out there knows, let me in on it!

• • •

In other news, the latest Trouble with Comics Question o’The Week is up, asking “which creator and work was the most paradigm-shifting.” Usually when I see the word “paradigm,” I turn and run the other direction because that’s clue #1 that the conversation is about to go way over my head. But, I gave it my best shot, and I believe my answer is totally correct because I’m awesome an’ stuff. Another fellow answered with the same creator and work, and made some very good points about how it’s affected storytelling vis-à-vis packaging that I completely missed, so I guess I was only at about 90% awesomeness this time. Ah, well, we all have our once-a-decade low moments, I guess. But, go read…and keep checking back, because we’ve got some “moore” (WINK) good questions coming up soon!

This looks like a job for Curt Swan.

§ October 28th, 2015 § Filed under self-promotion, superman § 8 Comments

So the latest Question of the Week over at Trouble with Comics was about our favorite penciller/inker teams, and…well, I won’t play coy and say “you gotta go there to find out my choice” since I’m going to post a scan of their work right here, but you should go and read what we all had to say, anyway. I get a bit…florid in talking about my pick, but it’s borne of enthusiasm for the work, what can I say.

I did send a scan along with my entry just to show what I was talking about, but it was a tad large, and may have disrupted the flow of the article. However, I don’t care whether or not anything I do here interrupts any kind of flow, so here’s the pic from Superman #247 (January 1972) by Elliot S! Maggin, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson:

Just look how torn Superman is in that second panel. That’s a man about to make a decision he doesn’t want to make. But you can read more about what I think about Swan and Anderson’s artistic teamwork right here.

Swan has been paired up with a few interesting inkers: Al Williamson over Swan sometimes mostly just looked like a full Williamson art job, but it was still an odd if enjoyable combo that echoed Anderson’s work in the facial expression department, like in this example from Superman #416 (February 1986):

A Twitter pal brought up George Perez’s inking of Swan in the first half of Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” story (Superman #423, September 1986) which brought a slick richness to the art:

And I’ve mentioned in the past Kurt Schaffenberger’s inking over Swan, though the primary example is, as I mentioned at that link, too obscured by the terrible printing. But the other half of that Moore story, from Action #583 (September 1986), we get a better look at Kurt’s smooth, expressive lines over Curt’s pencils:

And then of course, there’s Curt Swan inking Curt Swan (in more ways than one!), from Superman Annual #9 (1983):

Man, Swan was always the best, and that he was almost always paired with wonderful collaborators couldn’t help but make his work shine. There’s a big Curt Swan-sized hole in the comics artform ever since his passing, but thank goodness there’s just so much of work left behind that we can still enjoy.

I swear this wasn’t just an excuse to plug my eBay listings.

§ October 19th, 2015 § Filed under self-promotion, sterling silver comics § 4 Comments

One year ago today was my last day working for my previous place of employment, Ralph’s Comic Corner/Seth’s Games and Anime. Which of course means in a couple of weeks, it’ll be the one year anniversary of opening my shop, and it’s hard to believe that much time has flown by already.

Well, so far, so good, and I’m still reasonably certain I made the right choice opening up my own store. Around this time last year, I was in a fairly high-strung state, making sure all the right permits were filed, the proper licenses obtained, trying to get the inside of the store built while hoping my sign would get installed soon, placing my orders with Diamond and wondering if I had enough stock to keep customers coming back, and, and, and….

Of course, that’s all settled now, and everything’s working perfectly smoothly and I never have any problems ever, like all small businesses after nearly a year of being open. …Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true. There are ups and downs, like all businesses, but I think back to a year ago and I am glad right now that the store set-up juggling I had to do is mostly behind me, and all I have to worry about at this point is making enough money to survive, ha ha! But I’ve survived so far, and while some weeks are tighter than others, overall I’m doing okay, and look forward to doing even better in the years ahead. (And, hey, if you wanna chip in….)

Thanks to all of you for your help and words of encouragement over the past year, and for sticking with this site when content got a little sparse. Turns out running a store can tire you out, and “sleep” won out over “writing for the blog” more than a few nights. I don’t plan to stop either this site or my store anytime soon, so you’re stuck with both for the foreseeable future!

• • •

In other news, over there at the ol’ Trouble with Comics website, the Question of the Week was “what trade paperback collection would you like to see?” and I bet my contribution isn’t surprising in the slightest.

And by “they” he means “Mike Sterling.”

§ September 30th, 2015 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, self-promotion § 1 Comment

So the latest Trouble with Comics question time entry is a little different, in that it’s a roundtable discussion with the TwC contributors on the topic of “comics blogging: what was up with that?” Okay, Alan was a little more eloquent with how he put that particular query, but we all chimed in with our thoughts, and though I wish I’d contributed a little more, I’m in the mix nonetheless. So go on over and relive those long-ago, nigh-mythical days when comic blogs existed.

If that Swamp Thing book existed, I would never fall behind on it.

§ September 21st, 2015 § Filed under collecting, pal plugging, self-promotion § 1 Comment

Well, now I’m at the point where the to-read pile of comics is beginning to creep every so slightly upwards each week, as I find myself with decreasing amounts of time to keep up with them. The side effect of owning a store, surely, particularly since it’s still just me running the place seven days a week, so “free time” is no longer the easily-obtainable commodity it once was. “Read ’em at work,” I’m sure someone may cry out, but I’m generally too busy trying to make some coin of the realm while at the shop, and I’m sure it wouldn’t help matters any for comic book guys ‘n’ gals across the nation to perpetuate the idea of “wow, a job where you just sit around and read comics all day…sounds like hard work, har har.”

It’s not as if I get all that many comics, either. And I manage to make time to read the Peanuts reprints and last week’s release of Kate Beaton’s new book, so it’s not as if I have towers of unread runs of Those Other Avengers and Swamp Thing’s Kung-Fu Force teetering over me in my Gentleman’s Reading Room. Like I said, it’s a slow creep, a small stack getting gradually, almost imperceptibly higher each week, filling me with no small amount of nostalgic lament for the days when I’d bring home the week’s new comics, and just sit there and read ’em ’til I was done with the stack. Now I have my allotted comic reading time, where I read what I can until I have to go on and do whatever the next thing is.

Okay, it’s not quite as regimented as that, but I’m a little more aware of the free time I have and more careful about how I spend it. Like spending an hour or so every other night writing a comics blog.

Some of the comics that are getting backlogged on me:

The Maxx – Sam Keith and William Messner-Loebs’ weirdo Image comic from the early days of the company, now being reprinted issue-by-issue by IDW. I read the first six issues of the original release back in the ’90s, and cut it from my reading list in a cost-saving measure, I think, and sort of regretted it ever since. I fell behind on reading the newest reprintings, but knowing this is a finite run makes it easier to deal with. I suspect this comic holds together better reading all together over a short period of time, anyway, rather than absorbing it in monthly installments.

Haunted Horror and Weird Love – two of Craig Yoe’s bimonthly reprint series, which are great, don’t get me wrong. However, being as how most of the stories contained within date from a time when comic publishers weren’t scared of piling the text into each panel, it can take a little longer to properly appreciate each issue. Which is great…get that $3.99’s worth out of each installment, but sometimes they get sorted to the bottom of the pile as other, more current, more easily absorbed titles get read first.

Miracleman – well, sure, I read ’em all the first time when Eclipse Comics published them decades ago, and still have those issues in what’s left of The No Longer Quite So Vast Mikester Comic Archives. I’m still buying the reprint issues, partially to appreciate the recoloring/remastering, partially to complain, and partially to support the series so that we can finally get the new Miracleman stories by Gaiman and Buckingham, picking up from where they left off twenty years ago, or whatever it was. Tends to get left for last because I don’t feel like prying off the mostly-unnecessary polybags.

In conclusion, “a bloo-bloo, I don’t have time to read my funnybooks,” which is the whiniest of my complaints ever. I think I’m in good shape, though, so long as I don’t backlog myself into a warehouse full of boxes filled of unread comics, awaiting that day I’m bedridden with some horrible yet non-reading-impairing illness that will allow me to catch up.

And that’s just comics. Here’s a stack of hardcovers sitting on an endtable in the bedroom, and the Netflix queue, and…ugh, someone tell the Grim Reaper I can’t fit death into my schedule for the next few decades, I have too much entertainment to follow.

• • •

This week’s Question Time over at Trouble with Comics addresses the most terrifying of queries: “DO COMICS MATTER?” The answer is of course, NO WAY, NUH UH, FORGEDDABOUDIT…well, okay, we all say they do, more or less. SPOILERS. Also, this time around everyone’s question is put up as a separate blog entry, so this little ol’ link here to this week’s question time should take you to all of them. You’ll need to scroll down a bit to see mine…stop when you find that one somewhat familiar picture of me (which has been altered ever so lightly).

Please enjoy this very short post linking to another post somewhere else.

§ September 16th, 2015 § Filed under self-promotion § 1 Comment

Just a quick mention here of my contribution to the latest Trouble With Comics Question Time, in which it is asked “what was your first comic?” I narrowed it down best I can…and no, it wasn’t an issue of Swamp Thing.

This close to Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman making the list, just to see what Alan would do.

§ September 9th, 2015 § Filed under from the vast Mikester comic archives, self-promotion § 3 Comments

The new Trouble with Comics Question Time is up, and the question de la semaine this time around is “What are the five most powerful or affecting graphic novels you have read?” As I noted on the Twitterers, I had a real “one of these things is not like the other” response, but I think I had a pretty good mix there. A few of the books I’ve discussed on the site before (like here and here).

Another book I discussed at TWC I did briefly mention here long ago, like within a week of the site’s launch. The link to the official site is dead, I didn’t bother with any scans at the time, so here’s the cover of Dan O’Neill’s Hear The Sound of My Feet Walking (1975), the book I discussed then, and again this week at TWC:

A few years later, while perusing the stacks at the comic shop as a mere customer rather than the retail powerhouse I would later become, I spotted the other book in this series, The Collective Unconscience of Odd Bodkins (1973), sitting on the shelf. I picked it up and looked at it during a couple of consecutive weekly visits, before finally pulling the trigger and taking this book to the register:

“I was wondering when you were going to buy that!” former-comic-guy-later-former-boss Ralph said to me when I plopped it down on the counter. “Huh, I didn’t know he was paying that much attention to me,” thought Young Mike, prior to his spending nearly three decades in comics retail and remembering still which of you out there bought Youngblood #1.

The image at the top of the linked article may be a subtle clue.

§ September 4th, 2015 § Filed under pal plugging, self-promotion, swamp thing § 3 Comments

So a couple more thoughts to wrap up “Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing Week” here on Progressive Dot Ruin Comma Com Interrobang:

I never saw the Swamp Thing movie in the theater. I’m not sure why. It’s not as if I didn’t know it was out. I think I even watched a review of it on Siskel and Ebert’s TV show. I suppose I just never thought about it. I was twelve or thirteen at the time, and my parents probably would have taken me to see it if I’d asked. Plus, at that point I was beginning to ride my bicycle to local theaters once in a while to see movies…I know I made a bike trip to go see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It’s possible that Swamp Thing may not have made it anywhere close enough to me to go see…there were plenty of theaters around, but in 1982 they were still mostly one or two screens, and I’m guessing it was pretty unlikely they were going to throw away a screen on some dumb low-budget rubber monster movie. It’s possible it made it to one of the several drive-ins in our area, but I doubt they would have let me ride my bike into the lot.

Ah, well, just one of those mysteries, I guess. At least I have both the original “naughty” DVD and the new Blu-ray to experience the film as God intended…on a big ol’ flatscreen in the privacy of your own home without having to deal with fellow filmgoers, who are usually the worst.

Anyway, speaking of the film, as I have been this week so I don’t know why I really needed the segue, Reader Jonathan from Australia emailed me about this recent article, 23 Things We Learned from Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing Commentary. Just what it says on the tin, it’s a list of interesting bits from the Blu-ray commentary that I still haven’t found time to listen to, but I really need to, now. And by the way, if you get a chance to listen to Jim Wynorski’s director commentary on the Return of Swamp Thing DVD, that’s a hoot as well.

• • •

I forgot to mention I once again participated in this week’s Question over at Trouble with Comics, where the query posed to us this time was “name a comic where a later creative team exceeded the work done by the comic’s original creators, but without ‘damaging’ the initial work.” That’s a hard question to paraphrase, by the way. But answer the question I did, and one guess as to which comic character I may have discussed.

Oh, and you should be reading the rest of the site, too. A new feature started up this week, Mick Martin’s “It Takes A Villain,” which promises to be a fun read. TWC is turning into the kind of comics ‘zine I’ve missed reading, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. With any luck, maybe I can find the time to do more than just answer a question every week! …Ah, who needs sleep, anyway?

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