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Well, I hate missing a Monday post, but sometimes things just get away from you and, well, What Can You Do? I’ve had some real-life type stuff of late that’s been getting in the way of blogging fun time, so content may be a bit sparse…well, more sparse…around here for a little bit. But, I assure you, I’m still here. Watching. Waiting.
In the meantime, I still participated in the Trouble with Comics Question of the Week, which in this week’s case was “The nine-panel grid. Love it or hate it?” As I explain in my response, the question caught me off guard a bit, which is exactly why I’m joining in on this…to be caught off guard, to stretch my writing muscles a bit so that I’m not always posting on how great Frank Miller’s The Spirit is and other such topics about which I’m completely correct. I never gave the nine-panel grid much thought, really, especially why anyone would hate it, but…well, you can read my response there, which, as I’d mentioned to Mr. Doane as I was working on it, is basically “I’m dumb; here’s why.”
There’s also an accompanying gallery of nine-esque panel grids for you to enjoy. And here’s what TWC got up to in the past week or so, like this bit of business someone beat me to. I’ll have my revenge, oh yes.
Anyway, I’ll try to be back in the blogging groove later this week. Thanks for your patience, pals. Remember, you can always find me on the Twitterers if you really miss me. Also, please visit my store‘s eBay store, if, you know, you’re not busy or anything.
So here’s something that happened a few times this past weekend that I’m surprised hasn’t popped up more often in recent months: customers looking for the latest Avengers or X-Men or whatever, and I have to tell them most of Marvel’s Big Name Series are currently on hiatus while the Secret Wars event is underway. I also let them know that new series for most of these titles are on their way, but, unfortunately, that doesn’t do any good right this very moment.
Reactions are mixed. Sometimes the customer will try out one of the Secret Wars tie-ins that’s related to the character/team requested, or s/he’ll buy some of that character’s back issues, or some non-Marvel book will be bought instead. (Or maybe the customer will try to opt for no purchase, but no one gets out of my store without buying somethin’, see.) As I said, this hasn’t been a big problem, but I had enough people bring it up in a short period of time for me to realize, oh, hey, yeah, having all the standards on hold while doing your big event could cause a minor issue.
Related: I was discussing with some fellow retailer pals this forthcoming Invincible Iron Man #1 that’s part of Marvel’s post-Secret Wars publishing initiative. Yeah, there’s a whole slew of new #1s headed our way…and to be fair, a lot of them look like they’ll be pretty good. That new Extraordinary X-Men by Jeff Lemire and Humberto Ramos, for example, seems like it’ll be fun, so long as they can hang onto that creative team. Anyway, I digress…our concern with a new Iron Man series is that Iron Man comics have, of late…underperformed, shall we say. And I would love, love, love a great selling Iron Man comic to burn up my racks, but conservatively-ordering this particular series seems like the smart move. I hope I’m wrong, and that everyone rediscovers their love of four-color Tony Stark, but recent sales history shows otherwise.
Now since I’ve had that discussion, the very high order numbers (relatively speaking) of that particular issue of Iron Man became a bit of a news item. That linked article mentions it would be the highest-selling issue of Iron Man in years, and, well, highest-selling to retailers, sure…whether those retailers can in turn sell those comics to customers is another story entirely. We’ll see soon enough. Like I said, I hope it sells great. There certainly won’t be any shortage of them.
I’ve been asked why I think Iron Man comics haven’t been selling as well as they could be, especially since they’re the basis of an extremely popular series of movies. That could be the problem: the movies deliver a more visceral thrill, present a more relatable cast of characters, than the comics can, and the comics suffer as a result. Oh, and also, most people who see Iron Man movies don’t read comics. And on top of that, Iron Man, in the comics world, is still kind of a…well, “second-stringer” seems a bit harsh. Maybe “one-and-a-half stringer” is closer to it, and the comics sales just reflect that status.
Or maybe people just didn’t like his comics. Hey, it happens. Maybe this new series will be the Iron Man comic everyone’s been waiting for.
• • •
This week’s Trouble with Comics roundtable question was “what makes a perfect comic shop?” and while the temptation to answer “having me
running it!” was strong, I put a little more thought into it than that. You can read my responses, and those of my fellow Troublemakers, right here
. Given as how I’ve devoted a lot of the past 11+ years of my site to this very question, not to mention this retailing column
I wrote, you may find some of my answers familiar. But hey, I’m old now, I’m allowed to repeat the same ol’ stories over and over.
Back to Trouble with Comics: you can see what those folks have been getting up to over the past week in this summary post.
Yeah, I know I’m stretching this thing a bit, adding more fuel to the fire on something studios would rather just vanish into thin air. However, it occurred to me over the weekend that perhaps one should have some measure of pity for the poor guy(s) and/or gal(s) in charge of the official Fantastic Four movie Twitter account:
I’m sure they’re not locked away in a secret bunker somewhere, away from all media…they know the film is critically despised and tanking, but they’re still plugging away, hyping the film and trying to generate interest. And, of course, what else would they be doing? Presumably someone’s being paid to run that account…I mean, I’m guessing, I don’t suppose they’d throw some unpaid intern on there. And right now, that’s probably the last place they’d want an unpaid intern.
So, yeah, you’re not going to see “um…hey, everyone, sorry about the film” tweeted on there anytime soon, though that would be amazing. But if this account hasn’t yet, well…. But still, those folks running the Twitter account have a job to do, and they have to do it as best they’re able, because I’m sure the last thing they want is the studio deciding the reason the film flopped was because the Twitter campaign was insufficiently compelling and pointing their big ol’ stogie-wielding movie mogul fingers at them.
The other issue with running a Twitter account for a less-than-popular movie is that, well, on the Internet everyone gets their say. Sometimes it’s erudite and refined educated folks like all of you fine readers perusing my site, and sometimes it’s just straight-up dummies. I wondered aloud about the temptation of whoever’s in charge of the FF account to click the “Notifications” link and see how everyone’s responding to them. Because, boy howdy, are people responding to them, letting them have it with both barrels. You can pretty much just click on any post there and see the parade of haters venting their keyboard rage, for whatever good that’ll do. But I have to tell you, this particular exchange cracked me up:
So there are defenders for the film, too, presuming that they’re not all Fox employees.
There’s beginning to be some backlash to the backlash, suggesting that maybe we’ve gone from “well, that movie didn’t turn out as planned” to just dogpiling on the dopey film because it’s the fun thing to do. And, yeah, okay, it’s a little fun, and a small heaping of deserved scorn onto a studio once in a while helps remind them that maybe there’s some shit we won’t eat. But thanks to the Internet, any creative product with a social media presence gets hit with waves of anger over anything, sometimes deserved, usually not, and it all just blurs together into one bit ol’ mass of “why are we bothering reaching out to the fans again?” Who knows if the FF people are even paying attention to online reaction. I suspect the box office returns are keeping them occupied.
Anyway, that’s enough of that. I think I’ll hold off further comment ’til I actually see the darned thing, rented from Netflix in three or four months. Like I’ve been saying, the look of the film is very appealing, so I’d at least like to enjoy that aspect of it. And if it’s all that bad, I’ll just throw on my Blu-ray of Frank Miller’s The Spirit and wash that taste out.
• • •
As mentioned last week, I am now contributing to the Trouble with Comics
group blog, mostly to the weekly roundtable question discussion thingie. This week’s question
is regarding the future of the comic book periodical, and I pitch in with my usual overlong, rambling and nonsensical response.
Plus, here is an overview of what’s been going on over there, and boy, those folks have been busy as all get-out. And there’s plenty more to come!
So a long time ago, Alan David Doane asked me to contribute a regular column to his website Comic Book Galaxy. That monthly column, Behind the Counter, ran for a little over a year and a half, until CBG underwent…a retooling? A brief hiatus? I don’t recall now, but it was fun to do and I’m glad Alan gave me the opportunity to do it.
Alan continued blogging at Trouble with Comics, which he just recently relaunched with a whole new slate of contributors, including yours truly (and a few others who are participating but didn’t get their bios in on time, you guys ‘n’ gals).
Now, I warned Alan that between my own site and that store of mine, I’m probably not left with a lot of time or material to contribute there. However, one of the regular features is a roundup of responses to a weekly question, which sounded like fun to me, so that’s where you’ll likely see my input on that site. This week’s question is “Which single creator most influenced your perception of the artform?” and while I’m sure you all think I’m gonna answer “Ernie Bushmiller” or “Frank Miller” or “Alan Mooremiller” or “Charles Miller Schulz,” I think my response may surprise you.
• • •
Speaking of this sort of thing, Tom Spurgeon
just released the first bit of business from his Comics Report
project, the monthly comics magazine you can support right here
for a practically-free two bucks a month. It’s an interview with cartoonist Keiler Roberts, and this preview gives us a sneak peek at the layout and design of the magazine, which is very nicely done. The aforementioned Alan (David Doane, not Mooremiller) has a review of that very thing
on the also aforementioned Trouble with Comics site.
Now it used to be, back in the olden days when I had this now nigh-mythical thing called “free time,” I would regularly scour the new comics ‘zines as they came in. Amazing Heroes, Comics Interview, Comics Journal, and so on…I would absorb these cover to cover, even reading the articles and interviews I wasn’t especially interested in. As these faded away, only to be supplanted by Wizard and Hero and other magazines that…were less to my taste, shall we say, I sort of fell out of the ‘zine reading thing, though I’d still pick up the occasional decades-old Comics Reader I was missing from my run, and maybe, like, one of Roy Thomas’s Two-Morrows mags if something caught my eye. And of course there were comics news sites on this Internet thing, and comics blogs, but feh, who wants to read a comics blog?
It looks as if Spurgeon’s The Comics Report may be a return to the more in-depth comics mag of yesteryear while maintaining the ease of online convenience we’re all accustomed to now. I can’t wait to see the final product. It’s only two bucks a month, like I said. That’s only half the cost of Age of Ultron Versus Marvel Zombies, and I’m sure The Comics Report will be at least twice as good.
- Crisis on Infinite Earths tie-ins were a hell of a thing.
- Pal Andy is trying to raise funds on Kickstarter for his children’s book SpaceBear, so please help out if you are so inclined.
- REMINDER: the Ultimate Powers Jam continues, in which Pal Andrew rolls up a character using the Marvel Super-Heroes role playing game system, and other folks step in to flesh out the character. Probably better than whatever comic you’re reading right now. Unless that comic is All-Star Batman, and nothing is better than that.
- AND NOW, A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSOR: please buy some stuff from our shop’s eBay store. Dig some of these shirts, man. This Jar Jar shirt is made from real Gungan skin. Help me clear some of this stuff out…I need to make room! Thank you.
- Humble Opinions…a new site offering comics and pop culture reviews and commentary. “Everything in Greece was on fire all the time” made me laugh.
- I haven’t linked to swell chap Tony Isabella in a while, so here’s today’s post of comics reviews. I haven’t really gone out of my way to seek out other people’s opinions of the current Superman books. I’ve been enjoying them, thinking they’re an improvement on what’s been going on with the character since the New 52 hoohar began, so I was interested to see Mr. Isabella’s somewhat-opposed take.
- It was pointed out in the comments that the Sluggo doll from this post was probably just some other doll repurposed into a Sluggo doll, and yeah, that’s probably what happened. It was still apparently marketed as a Sluggo doll (along with a Nancy doll) in the 1950s as a Post Grape-Nuts cereal promotion. Here’s a shot of them in their box. …Phew, Nancy didn’t make out so great, either. Assuming that is supposed to be Nancy and not some generic “Girl Friend” as the box would have it.
- So just in case you wanted to read more of me picking at the scab of DC’s Villains Month — and geez, why wouldn’t you — here’s a long-ish interview I did over at Comic Book Resources on that very topic.
- BEHOLD: Swamp Thing art! The Louis CK/Swamp Thing mash-up you requested, Cute Poison Ivy versus Cute Swamp Thing, and (people have been sending me this one a lot, and thanks to everyone…it was my work computer’s wallpaper for a while!) “If you see Swamp Thing, say Swamp Thing.” And then there’s my old pal Batfatty, much missed around these parts, who sent me a link to the Japanese VHS cover for Return of the Swamp Thing (based on the beautiful U.S. one-sheet, which I do have!).
- A couple of weeks back I posted a link to a YouTube video of Video Comics, an early Nickelodeon program that would present print comics onscreen panel-by-panel, with voice actors and sound effects. The Swamp Thing episode didn’t feature the kids-on-bikes “Ride of the Valkyries” opening that many entries in the series had, but reader tvguy1979 sent along a link to a short promotional video which contains most of that missing intro.
I don’t have anything too scary today, except for those pictures of me accompanying this here interview I did via email over, oh, the last six or seven months, since I’m terrible about answering email. Anyway, Señor Editor, who conducted the interview, was very kind and patient with my chronic lateness, and please give the Editor your thanks by visiting the site. There’s a story or three there that you may have read here before, but I’m old and that’s what old people do, tell you the same story over and over again.
Also, I finally wrapped up my Halloween pog posts over at Pogressiveruin.com, which I’m sure you’ve all been following breathlessly.
So Bob asked a few guest-bloggers to pop in and talk up stuff that they might like that other folks don’t care for, and I submitted this bit of hoohar just to be a problem. Find out why people are already heaping such ebullient praise upon this post as “what gives?” and “clinically insane!”
Anyway, don’t came back here to tell me I’m wrong. I’ll just assume you already think that.
So a long time ago, prior to the early 2010 redesign of my site, I used to have a different title banner on my site every week. Sometimes I made them myself, but usually they were contributed by readers, and I’d post them up with a little link credit to the designer.
One submitter, noting my particular attitude about the POG phenomenon in a then-recent post, sent in a banner whose image presented a scattering of milkcaps, with the site name “mike sterling’s pogressive ruin” printed across it, and with an “r” sorta squeezed in above and between the “p” and “o.” Alas, my backup of all those banners is not immediately available (and my local one on the hard drive was lost during my recent computer troubles), so I have neither the actual image nor the name of the contributor, but that person was the first to make, at least to my face, the “POGressive Ruin” gag, way back in the distant mists of time (aka 2008 or so). (EDIT: Why, it turns out to be no less a personage than Pal Dave who was responsible!)
With the recent resurgence of the “pogressive ruin” name in my comments and, yes, people saying it to my face, the thought did cross my mind, “hmmm, maybe I should grab that domain name,” and then I thought “some of these milkcaps are pretty bizarre, it might be amusing to present them on said site,” and then I thought “maybe this could help me whittle down the pile currently at the shop,” and then the next thing you know, this happens.
So yes, pogressiveruin.com is now open for your viewing pleasure. I plan on this project to be primarily image-heavy and text-light, so this won’t be some extended treatise on ’90s fad marketing and exploitation, beyond what’s already implicit in the products themselves and what I’ve already written on the explanatory page. I just want to be amused by weird things, and hopefully I’ll amuse some of you, too.
I’m also not planning for this to be a permanent, ongoing project. I figure about six months, tops, so feel free to come back and laugh at me when I’m still doing this a year later.
Most importantly, at least for some of you, this is separating out the pog content from this site, so come back, it’s safe now! Well, after today’s post, anyway.
Thanks to Seth, the store owner who acquired this ginormous pog collection in the first place, who’s also totally behind this pog blog project of mine. And a very special thanks to the greatest stuffed bull of them all, Bully the Little Stuffed Bull…I needed a particular quote for this new site from an issue of Brave and the Bold, I didn’t have that issue, I put up the Bull-signal, and Bully answered right away with exactly what I needed! Thanks, Bully!
So anyway, pogressiveruin.com. Look what you all made me do.
EDIT 8/21: Dave found his copy of the “Pogressive Ruin” banner mentioned above!
So a while back, Matt Wilson (he of The Supervillain Handbookfame) asked me “if superhero movies are so successful, why aren’t people buying more comics?” And I said “because people are big poopie-heads.” Well, okay, I didn’t say that, but you can see what I did say by looking at Matt’s article right here. My response is hardly the be-all/end-all answer to that particular quandary, but, you know, it’s a start. Oh, and some other people responded, too, but pfffft, they’re obviously not me.
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