Keeping in mind that Batman and Robin isn’t really THAT bad of a film.

§ September 22nd, 2017 § Filed under batman § 9 Comments

So I’ve been looking back at your memories of the first Batman film from 1989 and all the surrounding hooplah (here and here and also here) and yeah, a whole lot of what you folks have been saying sure rings true with what I remember of my experience at the time.

I’m going to respond to the last comment I received first, from Andrew, who asks:

“Does Ralph remember any effect like this for the earlier Superman movies? What happened for subsequent Batman movies?”

I’ll ask Ralph when next I speak to him…he opened his own store in Ventura in 1980, but he was working with a partner at a shop in Santa Barbara for a few years prior to that, and working comic conventions and swap meets, too, so he probably experienced the response (or lack thereof) to that first Superman film in 1978. I’ll get back to you on that.

As far as the following Burton-Universe Bat-films go…well, it was diminishing returns, of course. The excitement over that first Batman movie was because it was “new” and “different” wasn’t there when Batman Returns hit in 1992, since we kinda knew what to expect now. I mean, obviously the film did well, and DC Comics did their best to exploit Batman during that period, but it’s not like DC wasn’t going to try to sell Batman comics, right? However, in 1992 the Bat-fad and the related comics boom had mostly run its course, and the comics crash was on its way, and the hordes of people who had suddenly discovered comic books in the late ’80s/early ’90s were beginning to find other things to do, so we weren’t going to have anywhere close to the cultural impact with the follow-up movies that the original Batman film had. Again, that second film was a blockbuster, and tie-in products sold well…but it wasn’t the culture changer its predecessor was.

The third film…I can’t remember if that had much of an impact at all. There was some slight interest because the lead was recast, but I don’t recall anything unusual aside from the typical merchandising one might expect from a Big Movie. And the fourth film…well, I’ve mentioned this before, but when I first saw the trailer for Christopher Nolan’s first Bat-film, Batman Begins, people in my theater literally groaned when they realized what they were seeing what a come-on for a new Batman film. Given that under normal circumstances the general public might be more positively predisposed to Batman, I most attribute that reaction to the trailer to memories of Batman and Robin, even if it was a whole eight years prior. That film cast a long shadow, however, which meant Batman Begins had a bit of an uphill battle to convince moviegoers that hey, maybe a Batman film can be good again.

Ooh boy, this is going to be a wordy post. Let me address a couple more questions and then we’ll continue into parts 2 through about 19 or 20:

James G. reacts to a non-Batman aside I made about the comics boom, noting

“I didn’t know about the sports card market crash helping the comic speculation market.”

Well, honestly, this was my assumption that I had at the time, and one I never really questioned or thought about much, so I can probably be refuted by someone with “knowledge” or “facts” or any of that wild stuff. But as I have related many times in the past, during the comics boom I had many people coming into the store asking after “comic book Becketts,” “Beckett” being the primary publisher of sports card price guides. That became a sure indicator of someone from the card collecting hobby, or at least familiar with it, trying their hand at the ol’ funnybook game.

I wasn’t really involved in the sports card market, beyond Ralph carrying a few boxes of this and that, so I don’t know a whole lot, but it was my understanding, from Ralph and some of his friends who did run sports card shops, that the card market, much like the comics market, was way overproducing at the time. I did a little Googling and did find, for example, this article that seems to corroborate those memories. It would seem that the card market preceded the comics market in its collapse, allowing some time for collectors of one to try to switch over to the other. That’s certainly what it seemed like what was happening then, but if anyone has more specific recollections, please let me know! All I know for sure it’s pretty tough to find a sports card shop around our area nowadays.

Patrick recalls

“People would be shocked at how Batman and Joker shirts were EVERYWHERE. And so many of them you would see see the same one twice in a day on people. And they were on a lot of people.”

Preach it, brother. Okay, I was working in a comic book store, so it’s only natural that I’d see lots of people in Bat-shirts. But when I would occasionally slip my chain and venture out into the wilds of Ventura County, yes, Bat-clothing was all over the place. Little kids, grandmas, the occasional nun, everyone was into Batman. Like I said in my own recollections of the time, we had waiting lists of people special ordering specific Bat-shirt designs.

The fad had to run its course eventually, and all those Batman shirts got put into closets one final time, never again to see the light of day. I can’t remember ever noticing the frequency of Bat-fashion declining…it was just something that was always there, background noise, until one day it wasn’t.

Okay, Bat-shirts aren’t gone forever…outside the peaks of 1960s and 1980s Batmania, incidence of Bat-clothing returned to its normal levels. But I wonder what happened to all those millions of Batman shirts that were purchased during that most recent boom time. Thrown out? Donated to Goodwill? Buried deep in a box in a closet for the original owner’s children to discover and wear as some kind of retro get-up? I bet if I dig into my closet, I probably can still find my own Batman t-shirt from the time, if only because I don’t clean old clothes out of my closet often enough. …Hey, my MC Hammer pants are back in style now, right?

• • •

As promised we’ll continue Bat-memories on Monday, same Bat-time, same B–okay, sorry sorry. But that means there’s still time to add more of your own!

“…And that’s how pogs saved our bacon.”

§ September 20th, 2017 § Filed under batman, market crash, retailing § 5 Comments

Okay, still trying to extract some old Batman ’89/early comics retailing memories from my head to supplement the last couple of posts. A few of you have contributed your own memories, and I shall be commenting upon them soon, oh yes, so prepare yourself for that.

As it turned out, I was talking to my old boss Ralph the other day and pestered him a bit about the impact the first Tim Burton Batman movie had on the shop. In line with what I told you the other day, Ralph said that business had pretty much exploded what with all the excitement over the film’s release, and while lots of different things were doing well, Batman comics and merchandise were of course doing the best. One thing he mentioned that I should have remembered was what happened to prices on the 1970s Joker series, which suddenly skyrocketed. Prior to this period of time, you could get them dirt cheap…I’d bought a copy of #1 for one slim dime at a comic book convention, and Ralph had issues scattered throughout his 50-cent bargain bins. Ralph recalled that when the Bat-craze hit, and prices shot up, he dug through the bargain bins to pull out all those Joker comics. Of course, one or two got missed, and Ralph would just have to cringe inwardly as he sold the $20 comic (or whatever it was) for four bits.

On a related note, I had asked Ralph what his invoices were like at the time…I had vague memories, but wanted some confirmation. Ralph said that during the boom years, the weekly comics invoice would easily reach several thousand dollars, at a time when DC and Marvel comic book prices were still, what, about $1.50 each, and indies were $2 to $3? Ralph said he was ordering hundreds of copies of several books and mostly selling through on them…and the back issue market was still strong enough that we were selling a lot of back-numbered comics as well. So basically money was just pouring in the door, to the extent that Ralph had bought a new truck about that time and paid for it entirely in cash. That’s the sort of thing that would probably set off alarms today, but back then, in the wild and crazy days of the late ’80s/early ’90s, ’twas no big deal.

As I’ve said in the past, when the crash came, it came quick, and we didn’t know it was a crash at the time. We figured it was a brief lull in sales, and that folks would be back, and orders continued to be placed as if sales would be back up shortly…and it eventually became fairly evident that wasn’t happening. For business to go from doing so well to [crickets] was a shock, and the store had nearly died before orders could be adjusted back to realistic levels. One specific example Ralph gave (and gave me permission to relate here) was having a new comics invoice that cost about $12,000, and then making only about $7,000 for that week. As you can imagine, having too many weeks like that could drive any business into the ground…and it did, for many comic shops at the time. We were able to ride it out, once we scaled orders back, and plus we had game products in the store that supplemented our income, and we were still the biggest comic shop in the area, so we still did some comics business. Oh, and pogs helped too. No, really.

It was a strange time to live through, and one that I hopefully learned from as I run my own store now (he said, juggling numbers to get those Marvel lenticular covers). Anyway, next time I’ll talk more Batman ’89 and less “I SURVIVED THE ’90s COMICS CRASH AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS FOIL-LOGOED SHADOWHAWK T-SHIRT.” If you have your own Batman ’89 memories, feel free to chip in!

Yes, as in “Star Wars Porgs.”

§ September 18th, 2017 § Filed under batman, blogging about blogging is a sin, low content mode, self-promotion § 3 Comments

I am pretty dog-tired as I write this…in fact, I believe I am as tired as, at the barest minimum, four dogs, so I’m going to just check in briefly for today’s Porg-essive Rue-Ann installment. I do intend on going back and discussing some of your responses to my Batman ’89 memories, and seeing if any more bits of info re: Mike of Comics Retailing Past have joggled loose in what we may refer to as “my brain,” for the lack of a better term.

However, after checking with him to make sure he wasn’t going to expand this information into a full-blown post on Armagideon-Time, I wanted to link to pal Andrew’s Bat-Burton era memories, such this tale of the Bat-worm turning on public perception of the Caped Crusader, or this one which almost defies explanation.

There’s a few more steps take down this particular memory lane, I’m sure, so I’ll get back to it mid-week. Add your own First Tim Burton Batman Movie Remembrances in the comments, if you’d like!

Also, I finally updated the Swamp Thing-a-Thon over on my Patreon with a discussion of Swamp Thing #7 (1973), the One with Batman in It. Taking a slightly less verbose, less recapp-y approach, and it’s still going to take some retooling, but I’ll get a hang of this whole “talking about Swamp Thing” business eventually. Just a dollar gets you in to see the magic!

Somehow I avoided using the expression “going batty” in all this.

§ September 15th, 2017 § Filed under batman, retailing § 13 Comments

I know I already talked about this on my Twitterers, but I wanted to preserve the moment here as well, when I encountered something at the shop that I hadn’t anticipated.

Now, most of us of a certain age who remember, or even some younger folk who are a little more aware of the comic (or even film) industry’s history know what kind of impact the first Tim Burton Batman movie had back in 1989. It. Was. HUGE.

Now, I’m not going to get sidetracked here into a discussion of whether or not it was any good, or whether it’s aged well. That’s beside the point. What I’m talking about here is how it seemed like this new Batfilm just exploded onto the scene, and suddenly there just wasn’t enough Batman stuff in the world for all our customers to buy.

This was just after I began working in comics retail. Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen had just, not too long ago at this point, informed the general public that Comics Aren’t Just for Kids™, so there was still some measure of interest because of that. And the first big hoohar I was directly involved with on the other side of the counter was “A Death in the Family,” the Batman event where readers could call a phone number and vote on whether or not Robin the Second Boy Wonder Oh Goodness Not Dick Grayson We Wouldn’t Risk Him would LIVE or DIEEEEEE.

But it seemed like it was that Batman movie that really kicked off the big Comics Boom of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Well, sure, there were other factors as well (a crashing sports card market seemed to drive a lot of investors into comic shops in the ’90s, buying first issues and asking for “Comic Book Becketts,” but that’s another story), but it seemed like this film was the dividing line between the Comics Market As It Was Before, and the Comics Market As It Was After At Least ‘Til It Crashed Again. Batman comics, Batman books, Batman tchotchkes of all sorts, and Batman clothing…I mentioned on Twitter that we had enormous waiting lists of people special ordering Bat-shirts. I can still vaguely recall the full color flyer that we had with all the available designs our customers could pick from. I even got in on that shirt action, since back then I still wore t-shirts on a semi-regular basis, and acquired one of these snazzy numbers (image totally stolen from an eBay listing);

I think I liked it because Batman wasn’t on it, that it was a tad more evocative of the weirdly mysterious nature of the Caped Crusader…or I just liked bats. Something like that.

Anyway, the Batman movie was big, and had a hugely successful impact on our shop, is what I’m telling you. I’ve been trying to dredge up more specific memories of that particular period, and there are a couple of vague impressions. I remember being slightly frustrated by the parade of people coming through the store declared that they’d seen the film, and I hadn’t had a chance to make it yet. There were the folks, prior to the film’s opening, skeptical of Michael Keaton’s ability to properly represent the Dark Knight. (A common lament, one I can say I witnessed firsthand.) There were those who hoped that the movie would treat Batman with the seriousness he deserved, and that it could escape the long shadow cast by the ’60s TV show. (Again, this was back before we all remembered that Adam West Batman was Good and Perfect.) There was, again as related on my Twitter — y’know, you should just follow me on Twitter already), the young college student who was basically giving me her dissertation on Batman’s influence on modern pop culture…while she was waiting in line to buy a Batman shirt, of course.

Whenever a person drops in nowadays and remarks on their perceived notion that the current onslaught of superhero movies must generate extra business for comic shops, I think back on that first Batman film, probably the one time that a superhero film did directly contribute to an enormous increase in sales. Later movies would sporadically encourage some sales on items, particularly on graphic novels prior to the related film’s release, and then drop like a stone once the movie is out (which happened to me with Sin City, Hellboy, Watchmen, etc. etc.). Or it would sometimes goose some investing (like the guy who bought us out on the 60 or so copies we had of Amazing Spider-Man #252, the first appearance of the black costume, in advance of anticipated demand by that costume’s appearance in the third Spider-Man movie). And then there is just an increase in basic awareness of characters…I wouldn’t be selling Rocket Raccoon or Groot comics to kids if they hadn’t seen those characters in Guardians of the Galaxy movies, for example.

So why am I bringing all this up? Well, I had a young man, probably in his early 20s, come into the store the other day and ask me the very question I was just discussing: do superhero movies boost sales? When asked that, I usually say “yes, a little, not as much as you might think,” and bring up the example that it mostly creates awareness of characters not already familiar to the world at large…you know, like Groot, or Iron Man. But, for whatever reason, I mentioned that one time a movie really boosted the comics marketplace…that first Tim Burton Batman.

An incredulous look crossed this young man’s face. “Really? People got all worked up over that?”

Well, of course he’d think that. He wasn’t even born yet when that happened. It’s hard to explain how everyone lost their minds over what is now just one more piece of background noise in our cultural landscape, when back then it was New and Different and comics fans had pinned their hopes on it, and it turned out other people liked it too. I had just taken for granted that everyone knew what that Bat-film had done to our little industry, but time passes, and people forget, or never knew in the first place.

I still remember, however, at least this little bit, of sitting in the theater, listening to that stirring theme music, watching the Batman logo slowly reveal itself during the opening credits, and thinking “at last, everyone will finally take comics seriously!”

I’m pretty sure I was right about that. Don’t tell me if I wasn’t.

And I say this as someone who’s enjoyed the recent Superman films.

§ September 13th, 2017 § Filed under question time § 1 Comment

Hey, remember those questions I asked you for way back when? Hoo boy, it’s been a while…let me see if I can knock a couple more of ’em out today:

Cwolf howled

“Like to read your thoughts on the reports about Marvel’s retailer conference this weekend.”

Uh oh, this question was asked on…egads, April 3rd, so let me look things up for a moment…

[tempus fugit]

…Oh, right, Marvel’s whole “our audience doesn’t want diversity” thing, based on the idea that a number of titles featuring non-traditional (i.e. not white male) leads weren’t doing well solely based on the idea that the leads were the problem, and not, say, a symptom of Marvel’s own publishing policies that undermined both retailer and consumer confidence in their titles. I mean, I don’t think I had too many customers…or any customers…complaining about Thor being a woman. If anything, that boosted sales a bit, at least for a while…but Marvel’s starting and stopping and relaunching and rebooting doesn’t help things, and sometimes it strangled new titles in the crib before they even had a chance to grow up, so what can you do? Marvel’s “Legacy” initiative (restoring original numbering to many of their long-term titles) may go a little way toward repairing that damage, and maybe readers might be a little more willing to try something new is they think there’s a chance it won’t be restarted from #1 if the issues get to close to double-digits.

Anyway, I know I’m a bit late to the party discussing this particular situation (though I’ve addressed this general topic on my site plenty of times before), but this article from The Atlantic gives a pretty harsh but not-inaccurate assessment of what all this rebootery has done to the marketplace.

• • •

Jerry Smith hammers out the following:

“Would you like to see a comic book movie or TV show do an actual, colorful comic book costume (within reason, that is)? You know, Wolverine in something close to the comics, Iron Fist in his traditional mask (with probably the modern track-suit costume) or anyone in something not black leather? I get tired of the black ninja crap on everyone, and long for attire closer to the comics (again, without being ridiculous).”

Well, sure I would. I know that’s probably not the in-thing in live-action representations of comic book characters nowadays, but there’s probably a way to do it without looking too ridiculous. Like, I always thought the costume in Batman: Dead End looked nice…fitting in well with the usual “dark” takes on the character without replacing the standard costume from the comics with the plastiformed muscle armor you usually see in movies.

But I think making the costumes appear to be some kind of armor or athletic outfit or something other than just tight-fitting spandex is one of the methods filmmakers use to support that willing suspension of disbelief. It’s a small touch of “reality” that helps ground the fact that the character can fly or run at the speed of light or whatever. I think Daredevil’s live-action costume looks fine, for example, and helps sell the “grittiness” of the character and setting that a ersatz circus outfit probably wouldn’t.

That said, I’d be happy to see a Superman movie where Superman is back in blue tights with red trunks and a big red flowing cape without any excessive detail noodling or lines or seams or such to somehow sell the “reality” of the costume. It’s a costume. It doesn’t serve any purpose other than to say “Hi, I’m Superman, I’m here to help.” By all rights, it should be silly-looking just on its own, but virtually every actor we’ve seen in that classic costume elicits the reaction, not of “hey, look how goofy he is wearing that,” but “hey, it’s Superman!” I bet if you got Henry Cavill into that costume and let him smile more, he’d probably get that response, too.

Len Wein (1948 – 2017).

§ September 11th, 2017 § Filed under obituary § 2 Comments

And so soon after losing Bernie. And like his most famous artistic partner, I am sure Mr. Wein still had so many great stories left to tell that we’ll never get to see. I believe I even saw a recent interview or ‘nother where he was talking about still writing even more Swamp Thing after his recent return(s) to the character. I know I had my criticisms of the last mini-series, but dangit, this was still new Swamp Thing written by the co-creator and I would have welcomed more.

And yes, I know he did much more than Swamp Thing, though, if you’ve been hanging around my site long, you know that’s my favorite of his work. He had a…comfortable narrative style in those early Swamp Things, one that pushed along the plots while simultaneously evoking the necessary dark moodiness of the stories’ settings and events and digging into the psyches of the characters and paying heed to the necessities of (semi-)monthly serialization. It’s a difficult balance to maintain while still making it all so accessible and fresh and seemingly effortless, and one I’m beginning to re-appreciate as I plow through those comics in detail in my ongoing project to reread and examine each issue.

Wein has left behind an enormous body of stories and creations, the most famous of which being Wolverine, introduced as an antagonist in some mid-1970s issues of Incredible Hulk…and of course Wein wrote the reintroduction of the X-Men shortly thereafter, bringing in Wolverine and cocreating new additions to the team (such as Storm and Colossus). Wein also wrote what seemed like every other DC comic I read as a kid, which is an exaggeration I’m sure, but not much of one. I can still feel how blindsided I was after reading “Whatever Happened to the Crimson Avenger?” in DC Comics Presents #38, which I thought would be just another in that “Whatever Happened to…” series of entertaining but not terribly significant back-up stories in that title, only to get hit with a serious emotional whammy regarding a character I previously hadn’t thought much about.

It was Wein who got Alan Moore to write Swamp Thing, which likely saved that title from cancellation (everything I’d heard at the time from the shops I frequented was that the newly-revived series was probably on the chopping block, or close to). And of course Moore went on to do Watchmen with Dave Gibbons, with Wein as editor. (Wein would later write the Ozymandias title for DC’s much-maligned Before Watchmen event…I know we’re supposed to not like those comics, but Wein’s effort, with artist Jae Lee, was actually pretty good.)

One of Wein’s later works was the mini-series DC Universe: Legacies, which was a fun ride through (and sort of a last hurrah for, with the New 52 looming ahead) the extensive history of DC’s superheroes. That just sort of let Wein do what he did best: play with DC’s army of characters and put ’em through some entertaining paces.

And that’s what Len Wein did: he wrote stories for pretty much every character DC and Marvel had, and always came through with something fun to read. Didn’t even scratch the surface of everything he’s done (well, okay, Wolverine, X-Men, and Swamp Thing are pretty deep scratches) but he was one of the primary building blocks of what made comics Comics for pretty much my entire life, and I’m going to miss seeing new work from him. But thankfully, he left plenty of work behind that we can continue to enjoy.

So long, Len. And thanks for being a sport and autographing my Swamp Thing chalk:

Still makes me smile every time I see it.

Yes, I know zombies in The Walking Dead don’t actually say “braaaaiinnns.”

§ September 8th, 2017 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, pal plugging, publishing, swamp thing § 1 Comment

So customer Ryan came by the store on Thursday with the above gift for me…a full page pencil drawing of Swamp Thing that he drew. He said “I began to realize that you kind of like Swamp Thing, so I thought I’d do this for you!” That was very nice of him. I actually have a bunch of art in frames ready to hang up, I just haven’t found time to do so yet…I do have this piece by pal Matt on display, but I’ve got several others that need to go up. Someone remind me to do so.

Also, I may need to redact part of my post from Wednesday, in which it turns out the extra story pages only present in the variant’s variant (sigh…) are in fact preview pages from the next issue, so readers won’t miss out on any material. It was just a little something extra to give me a headache for the lucky fan who was able to get their mitts on it. Anyway, glad I moved my copies already. I’m not sure how I’m going to edit that post, but I’ll put an explanation at the top so they’ll know to take my rantings with a grain of braaaaiinnns. Thankfully nobody reads blogs anymore, so I didn’t get many complaints.

In Patreon news…I will have a new installment in the Swamp Thing-a-Thon up soon. I’m just retooling the format a bit, oh, and also trying to find time to write it, which hasn’t been easy of late. I didn’t give up, I’m just a wee bit behind. I’m attempting to make the process a little less time-consuming, so that a biweekly schedule won’t become an enormous burden. I’ll let you know when the new one is up.

And in news that’s not all me me me me me me, Bully, the Little Funnybook-Pricing Bull, and his pal John are selling comics to support good causes! Plenty of photo evidence at the link! If you’re in the area, why not drop by and pick up some great comics at low, low, low prices…and that’s no Bull(y)!

Which isn’t to say I didn’t put ’em on eBay…look, I’ve got bills to pay.

§ September 6th, 2017 § Filed under publishing, retailing § 1 Comment

(EDIT: I spend a lot of time in this post complaining about something that isn’t a thing…turns out the extra pages are from the following issue due in a month’s time, so wherever I complain about that here, just ignore it. Thought about just deleting the whole post, but let it stand as a warning against other publishers thinking about making new story material difficult to find for the fans, and as a warning against jumping the gun on writing complain-y blogs.)

So a few months back I placed my orders for the current issue of The Walking Dead, due out in your local funnybook venue this week. And then, a few weeks back, said issue of The Walking Dead turned up on the Final Order Cutoffs, where retailers get a last chance to fiddle with their order numbers before print runs are committed. At that time, as happens on occasion, additional items not offered in the original catalog are put up for order…in this case, a variant cover by Lorenzo de Felici was added that was “free to order” (as in “I can order as much as I’d like,” as opposed to “order 10 of the regular cover, get 1 variant!”). I placed my numbers and that was that. (As an aside, I got so used to ordering two covers for each Walking Dead a while back that just ordering one cover throws me off!)

Tuesday, I received my weekly Diamond shipment which included these two Walking Dead variants, broke everything down, sorted ’em, counted ’em, pulled them for comic savers, etc. At that point, I get a call from another comic shop owner, someone I’ve known for decades, who wanted to give me a heads up that there’s a rare variant of this new issue of Walking Dead. At first I thought he meant the de Felici variant just on its own…I’m sure some retailers may have missed ordering it when it came up on the Final Order Cutoffs (or wherever else it may have appeared…there’s more than one place for these things to be added after the fact), but I didn’t think that was enough to make it rare.

My friend explained further, that the variant itself had a variant, that a minor visual cue on the variant’s cover indicated interior variations…specifically, the letters pages and other editorial content were replaced by an additional seven pages of story not in the other versions of this comic, either the regular cover or, um, the regular variant cover, shall we say.

I know this is being compared to comics like that Team Titans #1, which had multiple variations of its contents, each featuring a different short story in addition to the main feature which was the same in all versions. But that had sufficient warning…people knew DC was going to pull that stunt ahead of time, so it wasn’t a surprise to find different/additional content in each issue, and if you wanted all versions, they weren’t hard to get. Or even Thump’n Guts by Kevin Eastman and Simon Bisley was mentioned to me, which had multiple variations on content, but even that was marketed as a part of the gimmick for the book.

But doing this to Walking Dead feels like it’s a little more frustrating. Yes, I’m sure the pages will turn up in the trade paperbacks, but the folks reading the monthlies don’t necessarily get the trades as well. Making part of the story an exclusive “chase” variant is different from just doing rare covers…basically it’s telling fans who have been following that particular franchise “hey, we’re hiding some of the story from you!” …Maybe it’s not as bad as all that, and I’m sure there are…illicit methods of finding those pages, but I’d rather not encourage that behavior.

My hope is that those extra pages turn up in a later issue, so people who don’t want to buy the trades ,and don’t want to go on a scavenger hunt to piece together the entire story, can read ’em. I know I’d be put out a bit if a comic I really liked suddenly decided to sneak extra pages past me so that only a lucky few got to see them. …Are they in the digital version? Maybe someone can let me know.

Anyway, here’s hoping they don’t do that again. I know they probably meant well and wanted to do something different and have fun and make people excited, etc. etc. But this can easily turn into an aggravation, and nobody wants that.

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ September 4th, 2017 § Filed under End of Civilization § 10 Comments

From out of my brain, through my fingers, into my keyboard, and out on your screen…it’s the latest installment of the End of Civilization, where I plow though the monthly Diamond Previews catalog and point out items of particular note. If you have your own copy of said Previews (the September 2017 edition, to be precise), you can follow along with me, as I present at least one joke directly stolen from Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie:

p. 74-7 – Doomsday Clock #1:

Look, I already made my big joke about this series a few days ago. So…um, what if the series is about Doctor Manhattan and Superman teaming up to stop a giant clock from destroying the Earth? Yeah, that’s funny, right…? …No, huh. Look, I also gave you the “Manhattan has stolen Superman’s shorts” gag, what more do you want.
p. 88 – Batwoman #9:

Ah, Kathy’s Freddy Krueger cosplay:

p. 136 – Shazam The New Beginning 30th Anniversary HC:

Put a lenticular cover on this of C.C. Beck just shaking his head.
p. 147 – Batman Black & White Spy Vs. Spy as Batman by Peter Kuper Statue:

If the Internet suddenly becomes self-aware and threatens to destroy humanity, just have Captain Kirk show it this statue and hopefully that’ll cause it to break down out of confusion.
p. 191 – Coyotes #1:

Finally, a super-team of all my favorite coyotes:

…wait, how’s that again? …Oh. Well, uh, I’m sure this comic will be great, anyway.
p. 275 – How The Trump Stole Christmas:

I’m beginning to sense a slightly different tone in the Trump-exploitation comics vs. all those Obama comics.
p. 294 – Kong on the Planet of the Apes #1:

ATTENTION GUYS ‘n’ GALS AT BOOM! STUDIOS: I will totally write the Every Which Way But Loose/Planet of the Apes crossover. C’mon…”Right turn, Clyde!” [Clyde smacks General Ursus right in the face.] …You know how to reach me.
p. 295 – Big Trouble in Little China The Game:

Do not pass GO, do not collect Jack’s tru–oh, this isn’t Monopoly? Look, that’s my one format for End of Civilization board game jokes. You get what you get.
p. 328 – Elvira Mistress of the Dark Spectral Switchboard:

“See…it’s going…right…for her…boobs….”

“No…it’s moving…to her legs….”

p. 362 – Trump’s Titans Vs. Fidget Spinner Force #1:

“Gran’pa? What was the year 2017 like?”

[Old Man Mike pulls a dusty copy of Trump’s Titans Vs. Fidget Spinner Force #1 out of his worn and battered trunk. He shows it to the gathered children.]

“It…it was just like this. Read it…if you dare learn…the truth.”

(Oh, by the way, the preceding dialogue all takes place in 2019.)
p. 364 – Gumby Volume 1 GN:


p. 398 – Chasing Hitler #1:

The sequel to Chasing Amy you never expected.
p. 469 – Oh My God, They Printed That?!:

In case you’re wondering what goes through my mind as I actually sit down to do the monthly comics order, versus doing a pass through for End of Civilization jokes.
p. 473 – Star Trek The Book of Lists HC:

“Ten Reasons Why You’re Supposed to Buy Kirk and Spock as Best Friends in the New Trek Movies Even Though There’s Not Really Anything in Those Films That Supports It”


p. 473 – The Physics of Star Wars SC:

“So how was Hosnian Prime’s destruction in The Force Awakens visible to an entirely different solar system?”

“That…that’s not really what the book’s about. It’s about real world physics being applied to Star Wars concepts and how they could and could not w….”

“So you don’t know.”

“Okay, look, Wookiepedia says that happened because of…phantom energy? …Really?”

“Well, I guess you got something for your next book, then.”
p. 501 – Marvel Select Black Panther Movie Action Figure:

Black Panther is totally teaming up with a Horta in his movie! This is going to be awesome!
p. 511 – DC Teekeez Stackable Vinyl Tiki Figures:


p. 520 – Edward Scissorhands – Scissorhands 1/1-Scale Replia:

1/1-Scale Impaled Vincent Price not included.
p. 525 – Star Wars Kenner-Inspired Early Bird Jumbo Action Figure 4-Piece Set:

I’m tempted by this, but I’d probably be shorted Artoo again.
p. 532 – Pop! Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vinyl Figures:

No Gypsy? No Cambot? No Gerry and Sylvia? No Mr. B. Natural? No Torgo? No TV’s Frank? No Timmy? No Hamdingers? No Jack Perkins? No Gamera? No Joe Don Baker? No Demon Dogs? No Nuveena? Well well well, Mr. Funko Pop! Smith, Esq., I think you have your work cut out for you. I expect all these on my desk by Friday.
p. 586 – Deadpool Plate Set:

“Eat all your food, Little Billy, and you’ll see Deadpool staring back at you!”

[Little Billy never eats again.]
p. 586 – Deadpool Teapot:

“I’m a little Deadpool

Short and stout

Here is my handle

Here is yet another spinoff series starring me as various kitchenwares”
p. 588 – Breaking Bad RV Incense Burner:

The saddest fate for Barbie’s Dream Motorhome.
p. 589- A Christmas Story The Party Game:

So the object of the game is to not shoot your eye out while sticking your tongue to a pole, dressed in a bunny suit and also fighting over a leg lamp. Well, that’s the tradition in my household.

I just kinda gave up putting “cite” tags around “Watchmen” halfway through, I was typing it so much.

§ September 1st, 2017 § Filed under watchmen § 3 Comments

I know we’re all supposed to be outraged at DC continuing to repurpose Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen, but man, I just laugh and laugh and laugh at this:

…partially for the chutzpah…well, okay, mostly for the chutzpah of DC to even do this, and partially out of my own curiosity over how it’s even going to work, and partially out of my own misguided love for weird permutations of the original story, like, say, this toaster.

And seeing this cover finally got me to put together a gag involving that title “Doomsday Clock” and its superficial similarity to a particular piece of dialogue from a page in Preacher:

Ever since Doomsday Clock was announced, I had this stupid idea in my head. And now here it is, in all of yours.

Anyway, I have no idea how I’m going to order this. Well, that’s not entirely true, I do know how I’m going to order this, I’m just not sure how it’s going to sell. With that Batman/Flash crossover “The Button” associating DC’s use of lenticular covers with “special Watchmen tie-in events,” using lenticular covers for the Mr. Oz storyline coming up in Action Comics, where the Watchmen tie-in may not be as strong as had been presumed*, may lessen the sales boost said covers may give to Doomsday Clock.

Or I’m just overthinking it. While that Mr. Oz storyline may or may not have solid ties to the overarching Watchmen thing, Doomsday Clock is totally being pushed as “SUPERMAN VERSUS DOCTOR MANHATTAN” which should drive sales to even those folks who feel like they weren’t getting enough Watchmen content in that Action story. Boy, I’m sure assuming a lot about that Action comic I haven’t read yet.

At any rate, I’m reasonably certain sales will start out strong, but 12 issues over presumably a year (or a year-and-a-half, if not more) is a long stretch to keep interest up, even in something as wildly out there as a Watchmen/DCU crossover. There’s gonna be some attrition unless there’s a big sales-driving surprise partway through, and even then, who knows. There’s the kind of comics marketplace insight that keeps my two or three readers coming back.

I was looking back at some of my old Watchmen posts on this site, and from this entry in 2010 I quoted an excerpt from a DC press release:

“However, DC comics co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee said, ‘Watchmen is the most celebrated graphic novel of all time. Rest assured, DC Comics would only revisit these iconic characters if the creative vision of any proposed new stories matched the quality set by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons nearly 25 years ago, and our first discussion on any of this would naturally be with the creators themselves.’”

I don’t know what conversation DC had with Gibbons about this, but I’m sure any conversation with Moore probably ended with him slamming down his rotary phone after shouting “don’t call me again!”

I am curious as to what’s going to happen once DC no longer has this Watchmen subplot running through their series and special events. Will we finally get that epic multi-part storyline teaming up current Batman with Dark Knight Returns Batman? Then again, DC just wrapped Dark Knight III, and I think they’ve threatened a IV, so that franchise is still going on. Maybe…Rōnin joins the Titans? Angie Thriller becomes a…I don’t know, Indigo Lantern? Daniel from Sandman teams up with the Justice L…oh, wait.**

* I won’t “spoil” what Mr. Oz’s reveal might be, but you can Google around and see what people are assuming. Or look here on the Tweeters where I just straight up say it, back when it was still a crazy idea and not the likely correct one.

** Yes, I know they asked Neil Gaiman. Yes, I know Sandman is technically in the DC Universe. Let me have my little joke.

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