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More Swamp Thing talk, plus a big ol’ commercial at the end of the post.

§ April 12th, 2017 § Filed under reader participation, self-promotion, swamp thing § 4 Comments

And heeeere’s Part Two to “Mike Talks About Swamp Thing Because Someone Asked, and Not Because He’d Do It Anyway.” You can find Part One here, or pretty much most of the last 13 years on this site.

Let me be frank…I haven’t read the earlier Swamp Thing series in a while. Aside from poking through some older issues here and there for writings on this here blog, the most recent Swamp Thing comics I’ve read have been the New 52 run and other assorted recent endeavors. Now, that’s not to say I haven’t read many of those comics about a billion times and have a lot of the events in them committed to memory…in particular, the original ’70s series and the ’80s Saga of… relaunch. The series afterwards I can probably use a refresher on, and…well, more on that later. But ultimately, I am mostly giving general impressions here on the assorted runs, as asked by Rich a couple of weeks back.

And last time I left off at the end of the Marty Pasko run on Saga of the Swamp Thing. This was where Steve Bissette and John Totleben took over as artists, prior to their partnership with Alan Moore on the title. We get a standalone story that would have fit in nicely in the original series, about strange goings-on in a mysterious town, and then we get the return of Arcane and Matt and Abby, which, as I said last time, sets the stage for Moore’s run. It’s nice to have short-run, high-impact stories after the year-long…well, saga, as it were, and Pasko sends off one of his cast members in his final stories, leaving Moore to write out the other Pasko-created supporting cast in his first issue. As a whole, I think Pasko’s run with his various collaborators is quite entertaining and effective, bridging the gap between what could be called the original, classic Swamp Thing and the more modern take on the character we’re accustomed to now. A little text-heavy at times, perhaps, but I don’t mind that so much when it’s good writing, which this was. With a high-end reprint coming of those issues, we might be a little closer to current audiences rediscovering that work…though a single paperback reprinting Pasko’s run would be better for those purposes, I think.

As to the other major runs on this particular series (and I’m skipping over fill-ins and such, like I did that Mishkin/Bo & Scott Hampton Phantom Stranger/Swampy story in the middle of Pasko’s stretch):

  • Rick Veitch had the unenviable task of following Alan Moore on the title, but he did so quite well, with stories that were perhaps a little weirder, creepier, and sometimes grosser than Moore was. A solid run, one that I would probably put at third place in the “classic Swamp Thing runs” contest here, marred only by Veitch not getting to complete his run as planned when DC balked at the last moment over his “Swamp Thing Meets Jesus” time-travel story.
  • Writer Doug Wheeler had the even more unenviable task of following Veitch, trying to wrap up his storyline before moving into his own direction. It wasn’t bad, with some nice art by Kelley Jones here and there, and a “trip to Hell” story that was interesting. His run wrapped with the “Quest for the Elementals” storyline, that had great covers but I seem to recall that the art in some of these being a bit disappointing, like it was super-rushed. I mean, it’s been a while, and I’ll need to reread these to get a firmer opinion on them after all this time. Overall, I’d give this run an “OKAY.” Some good moments and issues here and there.
  • Nancy A. Collins’ run (with some great art by Tom Mandrake and Scot Eaton, among others) was up next, focusing on Swamp Thing’s domestic life with Abby and their daughter Tefe in the swamp, with lots of weird monsters, and ghost pirates, and a crazy ongoing subplot with tiny flower people, created by Tefe, and the evolution of their society. Said domestic life is essentially dissolved by the end of this run, leaving Swamp Thing a solitary monster living in the swamp again…basically back to basics, setting up the next sequences of stories on the book. Would probably rank this above Wheeler, below Veitch.

  • And seeing out this iteration of the Swamp Thing series was Mark Millar (kicking off with a four-parter cowritten by Grant Morrison), primarily illustrated by Philip Hester. His run of stories cranked up the horror again by quite a bit, with a hard-to-forget image of Swamp Thing trying to pass as human in the guise of Matt Cable, his human-ish face showing leaves and branches poking through. It’s basically about the alienation of Swamp Thing, as his grasp on what was left of his humanity slips away and others have to gather and put a stop to him. Would probably place this run just behind Veitch’s, but it’s very close.

And for now I’m going to have to beg off ranking the other Swamp Thing series that followed, for the most part, since those aren’t quite as firm in my memory. I enjoyed them, as I recall, though I can’t really nail down specifics at this point. There was one story about an underground cartoonist that I quite liked. As for the more recent comics…that mini-series that popped up just before the New 52 was not great, unfortunately; the New 52 series wasn’t bad, though I thought the back half of the series by Charles Soule felt more like classic Swamp Thing; and the recent mini was good but felt a little off in places.

So, Rich, in answering your question this made me realize that it’s probably time to do a thorough rereading of all my Swamp Thing comics again, since my mastery of the information contained within has slipped a little in recent years. And here is what I am going to do about it:

As I mentioned a while back, I was planning on some Patreon-only content, to maybe boost contributions there a bit. Like I’d said, it wouldn’t be exclusively Patreon-only forever and ever…like, contributors would get to see each post there first, and then a few months down the road, I’d put that post publicly on this site.

I was wondering what to do, when blogging sister Tegan made the suggestion that I do an issue-by-issue review of every Swamp Thing comic. And, you know, that’s a fine idea. One of the things I first did when I got my first Mac and access to Hypercard was try to create a stack-database of Swamp Thing comics, with artist/writer info, first appearances, significant events, etc. etc., that I could trade with all my Mac-owning, Hypercard-using, Swamp Thing-enjoying friends, of which I had none. But, now that I’ve successfully suckered…er, attracted readers to my site, some of whom may even be interested in Swamp Thing, maybe now I’d have the audience for this oddball project of mine.

Thus, starting probably next month sometime, will be Mike’s Swamp Thing-a-Thon, a Patreon-only series available on Patreon for Patreon contributors who contribute through Patreon. That seems like a long title, so I’ll probably just shorten it to “Mike’s Swamp Thing-a-Thon.” I’m still hammering out the details, like exact formats and timing and such. I’m planning on at least two entries a month, maybe more as time permits, so that’s the next decade or so sorted, pretty much. This will be available on Patreon for anyone contributing at least a dollar a month. The posts will eventually be made available here, so if you want to wait, you’ll get to see each entry eventually, probably six months or so after being posted for contributors. The first entry (about House of Secrets #92, natch) will probably be available for free, just to give you kids a taste. A nice, minty taste of Exclusive Swamp Thing content.

So hopefully this is a good compromise…I didn’t want permanently exclusive content on Patreon, but exclusive enough that people might want to drop a buck on me to get to see it early. Thanks for reading all this, pals, and I’ll be back on Friday with more…stuff.

Every time I mention Mark Russell, I think of the piano-playing political satirist.

§ March 31st, 2017 § Filed under pal plugging, self-promotion, this week's comics § 8 Comments

So the interesting thing about these Hanna-Barbera/DC superhero team-up books is how in most cases, some attempt is made at making them…well, if not in continuity with the regular DC universe (such as its continuity is right now), at least not directly contradictory. Well, to be fair, I don’t know if that’s the case in the Suicide Squad/Banana Splits book since I haven’t read it yet, as 1) I’m not a Suicide Squad guy, and 2) my only real experience with the Banana Splits is enjoying the cover of their theme song by the Dickies. But Green Lantern and Adam Strange cross over into alternate universes to meet Space Ghost and the Future Quest gang, respectively…and even Top Cat falls through some interdimensional portal to meet a cowled crusader of some note (setting up what seems to be a very Howard the Duck-ian premise for the forthcoming series). It’s sort of the difference between the early Marvel/DC crossovers where Spider-Man and Superman have just always existed in the same world and they didn’t get around to meeting each other until 1976, versus the Marvel/DC crossovers from a couple of decades later where the Marvel and DC continuities were explicitly described as “different universes,” with even a jointly-owned character who could facilitate said meetings.

The exception seems to be Booster Gold/The Flintstones, which just throws Booster back in time to the Flintstones’ version of the Stone Age, without worrying about, you know, how Anthro fits in, or whatever. This was written by Mark Russell, who writes the regular Flintstones series, and as such this particular crossover fits right in the darkly satirical tone of that book. Russell also scripts the Snagglepuss back-up in the aforementioned Suicide Squad/Banana Splits comic…and of course I read at least that part of the book immediately. Yes, Snagglepuss is, as the writer describes him, a “gay Southern Gothic playwright” in the 1950s, and how he deals with officious types who don’t approve of him and his work. The brief sample we get is a tad more serious than Flintstones, but Snagglepuss’ dialogue is fun to read, and I look forward to hearing more of what that ol’ mountain lion has to say in his upcoming series.

As for the others: Adam Strange/Future Quest is right in line with the Future Quest series, fitting right in with the tone of that comic…I mean, what’s one more weird adventure character like Adam Strange in a book already full of them? Lots of fun, and, oddly enough, semi-connected to Strange’s appearances in the recently-completed Death of Hawkman mini. Green Lantern/Space Ghost has some nice art by Ariel Olivetti (making it match quite nicely with the Olivetti-illustrated Space Ghost mini from a few years back). Maybe a little wordy, with maybe too many small-ish panels, but you definitely get plenty of story for your buck that way. And while I’m generally surprised at just how much Hanna-Barbera has let DC get away with so far, Howard Chaykin’s “Ruff ‘n’ Reddy” is…well, Chaykin-y. Not for kids, though frankly the number of kids who are currently Ruff ‘n’ Reddy fans can probably be counted on one anthropomorphic paw.

Anyway, they’re all weird, and I enjoyed what I’ve read so far, and I expect I’ll enjoy the Banana Splits one, too. Hopefully they’ll do more Hanna-Barbera team-ups, because quite frankly once I thought of the Killer Croc/Wally Gator pairing, I’d had great need to actually see it.

• • •

In other news:

  • Blogging pal Tegan is writing for Medium, and her recent column on the passing of Bernie Wrighson is a must-read.
  • I have a few favorite artists who’ve drawn the Thing…Jack Kirby, of course, and John Byrne, and Barry Windsor-Smith…and RON FREAKIN’ WILSON.
  • And don’t forget…if you’ve got comics questions for me to answer, or topics for me to discuss, drop ’em in the comments to this post!

Some people suggested I make End of Civilization Patreon-only, but I suspect you’d all kill me if I did.

§ March 10th, 2017 § Filed under pal plugging, self-promotion § 3 Comments

 

  • Bully, the Hopefully Well-Rested Bull, is back from his brief hiatus to correct a most egregious error in Esquire.
  • Pal Andrew has returned to his popular “Nobody’s Favorites” feature, and the character he’s focusing on this time is a real blast!
  • Blogging sister Tegan is an essayin’ machine over on her site, with loads of deep, thoughtful content well worth your perusal. And if you’re a Patreon backer, you’re not only getting extra essays of a more political nature on a regular basis, but Tegan just started a Patreon subscriber-only podcast as well. “Tegan Reads Wookieepedia” is exactly what it sounds like: Tegan hits the ol’ “random article” button on Wookieepedia, the online encyclopedia for all things Star Wars-ian, and lets the commentary spring forth. It’s a hoot. You can check out a free sample of the podcast right here.
  • Speaking of Patreon, and inspired by Tegan’s efforts, I’ve been planning a little bit of an expansion myself on what I’ll be doing with my own Patreon account. I’ve said before I was reluctant to provide “subscriber only” content, because I’d like everyone who reads my site to have access to everything I’m doing. However, my Patreon account has plateaued a little, and I’d like to give it bit of a goose, but at the same time, I don’t want to leave people out of anything I might do there.

    So, here’s the plan. I’m working on an ongoing series of posts, probably two a month, that will be available exclusively to Patreon subscribers, at least at first. Each of these exclusive posts will eventually go public, but not for a few months after its initial posting. Think of it like DC’s old newsstand/direct sales plan for New Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes, where, for example, the comic shop only version of New Teen Titans #1 (1984) was eventually reprinted about a year later in Tales of the Teen Titans #60 (1985) for 7-11s or whatever. Not that my posts will be drawn by George Perez or Keith Giffen.

    These Patreon-only posts will be available to any supporters, so if you’re in for at least a buck a month, you’ll get them. I expect to start this series up in a few weeks, and I’ll let you know when it’s about to begin. I’m pretty sure the first installment will be posted for free here on this site right away just so you can see what you’re in for. Anyway, details forthcoming as I hammer everything out.

  • And speaking of Tegan, the other day she was surprised that this particular service still existed in some form, and I’ve not linked to it in quite a while (the first time being back in 2008!): the Update-A-Tron, which lets you know what comic blogs have updated recently. Yeah, I know, “but feed readers…!” But this is still a handy way to maybe learn about new comic blogs…and people are still blogging about comics, despite the constant death knells!

I did it for the Chicks, man.

§ October 26th, 2016 § Filed under obituary, pal plugging, self-promotion § 7 Comments

hitherechickSo, about Jack Chick. On one hand, he seemed to be an always-present part of the weirdo comics landscape …his little religious funnybook pamphlets were just some strange thing we’d come across once in a while, in a variety of circumstances. I’d get them with Halloween candy as a kid. I’d see ’em at the local church neighbors attended. A neighbor of another friend “witnessing” to me (at me?) would press one into my hands. Some years back, my old high school friend and former coworker Rob would actively collect them, and a couple of his spares he’d pass along to me.

Nobody I knew took them very seriously. Well, maybe that one friend’s neighbor. But they were all amusing in some dark fashion…little morality tales of horror and death, all footnoted with Bible verses, where “bad” people were punished for doing shitty things to their fellow humans, and for not accepting the tenets of Chick’s particular interpretation of Christianity. That one booklet about the dangers of role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons is a highlight, much parodied and mocked over the years.

Some of the images still stick with me…the “lake of fire” that I’m pretty sure was used and reused in many of Chick’s comics. The construction worker trapped in hell, wondering if he’d get to see his friends again, and being told he’d be alone forever. The dead fella being forced to watch all the sins he committed in life, aghast that he’d have to watch himself tell the filthiest joke. “No, not that joke, not here!” Usually the comics were crudely arranged and drawn, but there was that occasional moment of frisson achieved, sometimes more by accident than by design, but still there.

On the other hand, beyond the amusement value, mixed in with the sporadic positive religious message, were messages that were anti-gay, anti-science, anti-Catholic, anti-anything Jack Chick personally didn’t care for. That undermines the pop-culture jocularity a bit. True, these were in the usual ham-fisted style and thus hard to treat seriously at face value (though I know some folks did), but it still revealed the ugly undercurrent of ignorance. Even saying that would make me one of those sinners in these comics, shouting and sweating and exclaiming my bad points of view, while the even-tempered hero calmly explains why I’m wrong and surely going to hell.

Still, I felt that I should note Jack Chick’s passing. Something…unique, shall we say, has gone from the comics world, what could be described as an odd sort of “outsider” art aside from the fact that Chick’s tracts are probably some of the most widely-read pieces of the comics artform ever.

• • •

In other news: pal Tim, who wrote this lengthy essay that you should read if you haven’t already, has published his follow-up which I think you should read as well. Tim’s gettin’ back into the old blogging game somethin’ fierce, and if you’d like to help him out, he’s got one of those Patreons that you can throw some simoleons at if you’ve got a couple to spare.

I’ll be contributing myself in the next couple of weeks, as soon as I get through a month with the quarterly sales tax payment, car stuff, plus other big expenses, and by total coincidence here’s a link to my own Patreon.

Besides, she’s not wearing that headband in the ad, so clearly it was an entirely different story.

§ October 4th, 2016 § Filed under self-promotion, swamp thing § 4 Comments

I’ve once again dipped my toes into the Trouble with Comics pool, contributing to the Weekly Question of the Week, he said redundantly and repeatedly, this time discussing favorite “Comics What Never Wuz.” As you probably have guessed, I picked Swamp Thing as the focus of my discussion, and if you’re familiar with Swamp Thing at all, there should be one story that comes to mind right away, so of course I primarily discussed another one. Anyway, go read what I had to say and then meet back here so I can give you some additional notes on the matter. Go on, read it. I’ll know if you haven’t. I’M WATCHING.

Okay, one thing I wanted to add was a bit of information I gleaned from the Tom Yeates interview in the new-last-week issue of the Back Issue magazine. Yeates (who drew most of the initial storyline on the Saga of the Swamp Thing comic from the early 1980s) said he was approached to complete the art job on that Wein/Wrightson reunion comic that Wrightson ended up departing. In the Swampmen book I reference over at TwC, Wein says he suggested “several names” to the publisher, including Kelley Jones (who’s drawn his fair share of Swamp Thing comics over the years), so I imagine Yeates was probably one of said suggestions. Anyway, it’s a shame that particular mini-series never happened.

There were a couple of other Untold Swamp Thing tales I thought I’d mention…in fact, I’ve mentioned them on this site before, but what the heck, let’s bring ’em up again. Well, actually, when you get right down to it, these are more “abandoned plotlines” than “actual comics in that were in the process of being produced but subsequently canned.” First was the old “Abby’s magical powers” storyline that I examine in some detail in this post from (urg) nine years ago. This was a subplot that began in the post-Wrightson issues of the original 1970s series, and it seemed to be leading somewhere, but vanished along with Matt and Abby from the comic, which was cancelled only a few issues later. And, as I said in that original post, when Matt and Abby came back in the revival series Saga of the Swamp Thing, the “magic powers” thing was well forgotten.

I’ve discussed this one from 1983’s Saga of the Swamp Thing #16 before in the context of other abandoned plot threads in comics, but at least in this case it seemed like they were planning a specific comic to address the matter, as opposed to maybe eventually getting around to resolving a subplot (like in the case of Abby’s powers):


In fact, this particular “forthcoming” issue of DC Comics Presents was what might have been intended to be represented by Swampy’s headshot in the DCCP ad in 1983’s DC Sampler #1:

dcsamplerdccp
…as the next Swamp Thing/Superman team-up to appear in that magazine wouldn’t be until a couple of years later, well after Alan Moore took over the Swamp Thing comic’s writing chores and sent things in a wholly different direction, leaving behind the mystery of Linda Holland’s grave. Then again, the plugged Supergirl and Batman and the Outsiders team-ups wouldn’t happen for a couple of years, either, but I suspect the Crisis on Infinite Earths nature of the 1985 Supergirl issue wasn’t the story planned when that small mention was placed in the 1983 Sampler book.

All I know was that I waited for this Swamp Thing issue of DC Comics Presents very patiently, and when he did finally appear in the comic, I enjoyed the story so much I almost, but not quite, forgot all about that gravesite device plotline. …Hence this blog post.

That red arrow is pointing at Pal Dorian’s old car.

§ September 26th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day, retailing, self-promotion, sterling silver comics § 4 Comments

Oops, sorry, I really was planning to have a post on Friday, and then when I missed that, a post on Saturday…but I have an excuse, honest. I was out car-shopping, and then, eventually, car-buying, over the last week, and was coming in awfully late and very tired in the evenings. Turns out that, if you’re running a shop seven days a week, that doesn’t leave you with a whole lot of time to do other things, like, oh, say, getting a new vehicle to replace the old about-to-die one.

Yes, buying a new car wasn’t something I wanted to do, but rather had to do, as my old pickup, immortalized in this Google Earth image from long ago (pointed at by the blue arrow):


…was well north of 200,000 miles on the odometer, and a visit for a smog check resulted in the mechanic telling me “I can’t test this thing,” so that, and several other issues, resulted in the need for a new Mikemobile. And thus, the 1994 Mazda B2300 is dead, long live the 2016 Hyundai Tuscon. …Actually, I tried to buy used, but it turned out there was nary a difference in price between a used 2015 Tuscon and a new 2016 one, and frankly, instead of driving a car that already had 20,000 miles on it, I’d rather put those 20,000 miles on it myself (or approximately 1,200+ trips back and forth between my home and the store).

So anyway, I have a new car, with all kinds of crazy electronic gadgetry I have to learn, as my previous vehicle was essentially a collection of levers and pulleys and this new car is like a more advanced version of KITT from Knight Rider. But now Caveman Mike have new magic machine to bang club on, and Blogging Mike should be back on schedule with his website. Thank you for your patience.

Oh, and by the way, on a completely unrelated note, now might be a good time to, say, come shop at my store, or maybe buy something from my eBay listings, or even patronize my Patreon. Or just overnight me a shoebox full of twenties, that’d be okay, too.

• • •

Okay, how ’bout some comic book-type stuff? I kept meaning to do a little write-up about DC’s Batman Day event, in which DC tries to get the word out about this crazy dude what dresses like a bat and fights crime. Yeah, okay, it’s the comic industry’s version of advertising Coca-Cola, but there’s usually a freebie of some kind involved (this year, a reprint of the recent Batman #1 from the Rebirth event), and it does get folks into the shop. I did the same thing I did last year, and set up a table filled with Bat-books and boxes of back issues and offered discounts on all the stuff, and did some pretty good business. Certainly there were people out enjoying Batman Day decked out in their Bat-regalia…shirts and dresses and the like, and I barely had to advertise it at all for the event to be considered a success.

Now, this is all part of trying to create Free Comic Book Day-esque events throughout the year to generate business for comic shops, like the still-forthcoming this year Halloween-Fest and Local Comic Shop Day. That’s fine, I won’t say no to stuff like this that’ll boost sales, especially when they don’t really require a whole lot of effort. Advertise, have the goodies ready for the day, and be a happy and polite retailer that welcomes everyone that comes into your shop. Actually, that’s good advice year-round, though it sounds like some folks can’t even manage that minimal amount of effort, as related by pal Shane on his Twitter.

Speaking of stores, Diamond Comics has regular Best Business Practice awards, and this year I put my shop in for Best Free Comic Book Day 2016. Only Diamond accounts can vote, so I can’t push the Progressive Ruin Army to my bidding here, but I figure I was the only comic shop with Jaime Hernandez, Batman, and my dad in-store for FCBD this year, so surely I have a chance at claiming this honor. (And if Jaime, Batman and my dad did all show up at another store without my knowing…well, wouldn’t that have been something.)

Oh, and I did another Back Issue of the Week at the store site, too. These are fun to do! Maybe I should start a comic book blog.

And one more bit of Turok Dinosaur Hunter first issue follow-up from last week: read this account of the dreaded fate that befell approximately 5,000 copies of said comic, if you dare.

If my cunning scheme works, I’ll pull in a whole $2.25 on this comic.

§ September 16th, 2016 § Filed under self-promotion, sterling silver comics, turok § 3 Comments

So I decided to put more of my hard-earned blogging skills to use and start a new feature on my store’s website: Back Issue of the Week. Now, I don’t expect to be quite so verbose in future installments, but I certainly picked a comic with a lot of historical industry significance behind it that needed some ‘splaining. I tried really hard to not go too heavy on the “remember when the comics business was really dire?” aspects of it since, you know, it is a store webpage and I want people to be happy and want to buy comics. But on the other hand, a little history lesson about a bit of the comics industry that a significant percentage of my customer base isn’t even old enough to remember might not be unwelcome.

Plus, that particular comic is pretty neat-looking, and, believe it or not, still sells. They keep showing up in collections, I keep buying them, and they keep selling. Whether it’s the persistent Valiant back issue market that’s been kind of lurking in the background ever since Valiant Version One went away*, or it’s the fact that (as noted in my store post) people are snapping up gimmick-covered comics again as interesting novelties…whatever the reason, they’re still moving.

One question I still have about that issue of Turok, and one I brought up before on this site, years ago, is whether or not it was originally solicited as having a full chromium cover, instead of just the glued-on chromium card. I have a vague memory that this was the case, though when I last mentioned it someone dropped into the comments and basically said I was a dummy for even thinking it, of course it wasn’t originally solicited with a full chromium cover. I remain unconvinced, though the fact that if such a change was made at the last second, this issue would have been made returnable…unless the change was announced way ahead of time and we were given opportunity to alter our orders, and we didn’t. Anyway, I don’t have access to the 23+ year-old appropriate distributor materials from which I may glean this information, so What Can You Do?

Another question I had, and one I was very tempted to determine for myself: is there anything under that chromium sheet? Is it just a blank rectangle, like I suspect, or is the border image continued beneath, just unembossed? Will it be the same poisonous and/or explosive material we were told we’d find at the center of a golf ball? One of these days I’ll get a crummy, unsellable copy of this comic in and I’ll find out for myself.

Anyway, enough about me, here’s more about me: I once again contributed to the Trouble with Comics Question Time, this time addressing “Comic Numbering: Is It Good? Should It Be Replaced?? Let’s Find Out!” You won’t be surprised to discover that I just go on and on and on.
 
 

* I’m considering the Nintendo comics-era Valiant to be Version Zero.

And every Valentine’s Day for the past decade, I think about doing another one of those lists.

§ August 26th, 2016 § Filed under how the sausage is made, self-promotion § 9 Comments

I’d been on hiatus from the Trouble with Comics crew for a bit, since of late what small amount of blogging time I’ve had I’ve been focusing right here on this site, keeping the content up, patching up some old entries, and otherwise justifying the ol’ Patreon. But, the Trouble with Comics Question Time feature was hitting its 50th installment, and who am I to pass up an anniversary issue?

The Question this time was simply to list 50 Things We Loved About Comics, and you can read our answers in the three installments right here (1 2 3) and my entry is located in Part the Second.

Those of you who’ve been around a while may remember three consecutive Valentine’s Day entries where I listed “100 Things I Love About Comics” in each — they’re right here and I should warn you I haven’t fixed any dead links in those posts yet. As I say in the first post, that was inspired by a couple of Fred Hembeck strips (1 2) and by a post by Chief Troublemaker Alan David Doane (which included my then-relatively new site, which surprised the heck out of me!). Lots of people did lists of their own, but leave it to Tom Spurgeon to have unleashed the 1000 Things He Loves About Comics, and hoo boy that’s hard to beat.

Anyway, for my new Top 50 list I was going to do something similar to my old Top 100 lists…just list a bunch of stuff I like, whether it’s characters or creators or titles or what have you. In fact, my first pass at my entry, I did just that…and it turned out I duplicated quite a bit from my old lists, and I didn’t want to do exactly what I’d done before. So the second time ’round I tried to stick to just listing specific events in comics (though a couple more general entries slipped in there), and I hope you are reminded of some fun things when you read my entry (and everyone else’s entries, too!) or maybe are intrigued by some bit of nonsense you hadn’t heard of before.

When I started my second pass at that list, I figured “oh man, this is going to take forever,” but I’m pleased to say that it took hardly any time at all to fill up all fifty spots. I had plenty more besides, and of course a day or two later I’m thinking of entries that should have been in that list but they simply slipped my mind.

Top of that “shoulda been in dere” list is Hawkman #4 in which we learn at long last the secret identity of Kite Man, who turns out to be a real blockhead. I can’t believe I left it off the list, but one of the wonders of the Comics Internet is that I been able to tell the writer of said issue, the eternally swell Tony Isabella, how much I loved that comic, so hopefully that makes up for my recent forgetfulness.

I also forgot to mention Lex Luthor anywhere in that list, which stuns me because I do loves me some Lex Luthor. It’d be hard for me to narrow it down to just one entry, but I think that one panel in Superman #149 (1961), “The Death of Superman,” where Luthor contemptuously thinks “The puny ants!” as he is on trial for Superman’s murder. Maybe more generally, I always liked those stories where Luthor is shown that, despite his hatred for Superman, he’s not entirely a monster and reveals some soft spot or ‘nother for, like, his sister, or for Einstein, or something like that. That’s an element lost in post-Crisis Luthor, who was just straight up pure evil, 24/7. (Maybe that’s part of the reason why I’m enjoying the Rebirth Superman titles so much, with Luthor’s redemption arc…he’s still an arrogant jerk, but he seems to be doing the right thing.)

And then there’s Dr. Doom, who really should have been in there somewhere, too. Again, it’s hard to pin down one particular moment or story…maybe that one Fantastic Four issue where we follow Doom around during a typical day in his country of Latveria. Or more generally, I just love the fact that Reed Richards and Doom were once (very briefly, like for what, a minute?) college roommates, now mortal enemies which I expect more than a few people can relate to.

And plenty more besides. Nobody needs to tell me what else I forgot…believe me, I know. I did manage to keep the Swamp Thing entries down to just one, but it’s a good’un. There are entries for three different Frank Miller Batman-related things, however. You’re welcome!

Pamcakes!

§ July 6th, 2016 § Filed under batman, self-promotion, sir-links-a-lot § 1 Comment

I want to thank those of you who have pledged payments to my Patreon account, and I swear I’m not just saying that so I can link to my Patreon account again. I really am thankful for your generosity and willingness to spare a buck or three every month to my endeavors here. It’s very much appreciated. And like I said, there’s not going to be any special contributor-only content or anything, so everything I write for the site will be equally available to everybody. However, Patreon supporters will get to leave with me on my flying saucer to go live in my chocolate castle on Venus when the end times come, so just keep that in mind.

Meanwhile:

  • Bully, the Little Bull Stuffed with Butter and Syrup, is a few days deep into A Month of Pancakes, which you should dig into immediately. I voted for Pancake Month, and got exactly what I was hoping for! Democracy works, sometimes!
  • Blogging brother Tim relates his own thoughts on the state of comics blogging (as I did myself, not too long ago). One day soon, it will be just Tim and I standing alone in a wasteland filled with the desiccated corpses of fallen comic blogs, squaring off against each other, HTML tags in hand, studying each other for the smallest sign of weakness.
  • Pal Andrew tells us about that one time the Jack of Hearts met the Incredible Hulk. Man, there’s nothing quite like 1970s Marvel comics.
  • The Trouble with Comics gang look at nationalistic superheroing and discuss its impact on the medium. …I’ve been “on hiatus” from TwC for the last few weeks due to scheduling issues, but hope to be back and contributing there again in the near future.
  • And now, for no real good reason, NEEDLEPOINT JOKER:

    needlepointjoker
    Someone brought in a couple of bins holding piles of ’90s Batman stuff, and this is one of three things I bought from them, just because it was so odd. (I bought it specifically to resell to a fella working at my previous place of employment, who is way into the character…and it is at that store the NEEDLEPOINT JOKER is currently on display.)

    The other two things I bought were a Catwoman bank and a replica of a ’60s Batman fan club pinback button. Oddly enough, I passed on the signed Batman #500 from one of those home shopping TV shows, even despite being in one of those collectible fold-out comic binders. …The ’90s were weird, man.

That clinking clanking sound / Can make the world go ’round.

§ July 1st, 2016 § Filed under self-promotion § 2 Comments

So yes, I started a Patreon account for myself, to fund this website. It’s something I’d been thinking about doing for a few months now, and actually had it ready to go for the last few weeks, but held off because 1) there was a thing going ’round a while back about comic sites opening up Patreons and I didn’t want to look like I was jumping on the bandwagon, and 2) there’s been a whole lot of awful stuff happening in The Real World over the last few weeks and it never seemed like an appropriate time.

But first, let me get a couple of things about of the way. I don’t plan on having any contributor-exclusive content…I don’t want anyone to feel as if they’re missing out on anything. Not that anything I write is so important and life-changing that people will start harming themselves if they aren’t part of the Progressive Ruin Elite and don’t have access to the Secret Good Stuff. But, basically, I don’t want to leave anyone out. This doesn’t preclude some eventual perk, though I don’t know what that will be. Buy you a cup of coffee, maybe? I don’t know.

Also, my production of Progressive Ruin isn’t dependent on financial support. Even if I wasn’t paid to do it, I’d still do it. I mean, I’d like to have a little scratch in exchange for the hours, days, years I’ve worked on this site. I have the big ol’ sidebar ad which helps with paying for hosting, but the Amazon referrals have declined of late and I’ve been looking for a way to replace that minimal income without putting up more ads.

I think Patreon is the way to go. It’s completely voluntary, and it’s just a small thingie in the sidebar to this site (and, um, there’s this meandering post, too). If you can pledge, like, a buck a month, every little bit will help. And of course you don’t have to…I’ll still be providing new content on this site every couple of days or so for everyone who wants it. Some of it might even be good, but no promises.

“But Mike! You own a comic book store! Surely you must be independently wealthy by now!” Well, sure, you’d think, but it turns out that comics retail isn’t necessarily a direct path to fortune. And starting up and running a small business is expensive. Everything’s going fine, it’s all paying for itself, I’m getting paid, but I’m working long hours and my free time is just that much more precious. Getting a wee bit of coin of the realm in exchange for using up some of said free time on this site would be welcome.

As I say in the introduction to my Patreon, one of my plans is to go back and clean up old Progressive Ruin posts, fix broken links and formatting, etc. I’ve been sort of doing that anyway, like when I occasionally link to an old post and decide to refurbish it a little so I don’t send you to old Haloscan comments or Journalista entries. What I want to do is start at the beginning and work my way forward, knocking everything back into shape. As this is nearly thirteen years of nearly-daily posts, clearly this will take some more of my free time, and subsidizing the project via Patreon pledges wouldn’t hurt.

Whether you contribute or not is fine. If you can spare a bit every month, that’s great…if you can’t, that’s okay, too. I appreciate all of my readers, even Ian, and the fact that my comment sections are regularly filled with funny and informative commentary from readers who aren’t insane hasn’t gone unnoticed by me. You folks out there are a big part of what makes my site what it is, and you all support me just by regularly reading what I write. Thank all of you for that.

Anyway, here’s one more link to my Patreon. I promise to try not to overdue plugging the thing here and elsewhere…and if I do, just give me a little tap on the shoulder and let me know.

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