In which I buy something I didn’t actually need, but wanted anyway…which probably describes most everything I own, to be frank.

§ March 3rd, 2017 § Filed under collecting, from the vast Mikester comic archives § 10 Comments

So my old boss Ralph has been processing a bunch of comics magazines, including those two Atlas/Seaboard magazines I mentioned a couple of weeks back. Well, I finally got my hands on those two items, which I’ll probably talk about in the near future, but before that, let me discuss something else I acquired from Ralph at the same time…The Captain Kentucky Collection Volume 1 (1981) by Don Rosa:


And here’s the back cover:


…as well as a closer look at those pics ‘n’ captions, since they don’t show up too well in that scan:


I’ve written a few times before about how I first found the work of Don Rosa in the Comic Reader ‘zine, where they were reprinting his Captain Kentucky comic strips. I thought they were pretty great, and I always kept a lookout for any more work by Mr. Rosa, which brought me to his Don Rosa’s Comics & Stories magazines, and, eventually, to his official Disney debut in Uncle Scrooge #219. (And that of course sent me on a journey rediscovering the work of Carl Barks, but that’s a story for another time.)

Anyway, I didn’t really need this, as such. I own this 2001 hardcover which reprints every CK strip:


…but it doesn’t have that great cover from the ’81 magazine, and there’s an introduction in the mag that isn’t in the hardcover. Plus, there’s those two great photos I have scanned above. The magazine also has an index to “People Offended” and “Places Destroyed” which I thought was funny, and unique to this publication…but it turns out the hardcover also that this index, expanded to the strip’s full run and not just the first 50 installments, which I didn’t recall.

For the most part, I try not to repurchase (or “double-dip” on) things I already own, says the guy with about fifteen different versions of House of Secrets #92. But there are always exceptions, and I remember really wanting this CK mag when I first heard about back in the ’80s, but thinking I missed the window of opportunity to get one and that I’d just have to piece together the run in the Comic Reader. Having that hardcover should have been enough, but finally seeing the mag in person while digging through Ralph’s boxes sort of rekindled that collecting desire. Even though at the time when I first saw it, I said “ah, I’ve got all those strips, I don’t need it” — but sure enough, a couple of days later I was on the phone with Ralph, telling him “sigh, okay, hold that Captain Kentucky ‘zine for me, too.”

And now, here it is, in my hands. Another weird old hole in the collection, filled. Like I said, I didn’t need to own this, but I sure am happy to finally have it.

“Say, what kind of noise do you loud musical pigs make?”

§ March 1st, 2017 § Filed under archie § 2 Comments


 
 

image from Laugh #293 (August 1975)

The post I wanted to call “the postmodern Stone Age family” except someone already used that phrase for The Croods.

§ February 27th, 2017 § Filed under cartoons § 2 Comments

So the story is nominally about Bamm-Bamm — excuse me, Teen-age Bamm-Bamm — finding his pet dinosaur Snoots holding a treasure map in his mouth, and then going off in pursuit of said treasure, while rivals Bruno and his gang, pictured here:


…try to get their mitts on the map.

There’s a lot of hoohar and goings-on as the battle for the map rages on, until the startling truth comes to light:


Now, I could go into the whole “which animals are sentient and self-aware, and which are just dog/cat-level pets in the Flintstones milieu” discussion, and that Snoots clearly has crossed the previously unbroken line between the two, if he’s, you know, making hand-drawn maps. Though I recall Dino’s comic book appearances give him thought balloons and a more comprehensive inner intellectual life than evidenced in the original animated source material. And then, of course, I’m trying to recall if the speaking animals actually interact conversationally with the humans (beyond repeating messages left by other humans), or if their comments are strictly for gag asides.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Mostly, I just wanted to point out this breaking of the fourth wall by one Mr. B. Bamm, in which he expresses his surprise at Snoots’ heretofore unrevealed cartological skills:


Perhaps one could surmise he is speaking to Bruno, whom he was speaking to just the panel previous, and we are taking Bruno’s point of view. However, the convention in comics storytelling for this particular panel composition is the direct addressing of the reader. Bamm-Bamm is expressing directly to you his surprise at his pet dinosaur’s skills. He has broken the fourth wall. He knows there are readers outside his world, looking in. Much like Buddy Baker in Animal Man #19 from 1990:


…he is aware he is in a comic book. In other words, what Bamm-Bamm is trying to say is


 
 
 

images from Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm #6 (September 1972), and Animal Man #19 (January 1990) by Grant Morrison, Chas Truog and Doug Hazlewood — special thanks to Bully the Little Image-Manipulating Bull for his production assistance!

Entering Low Content Mode.

§ February 24th, 2017 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, low content mode § 2 Comments

Sorry, pals, but due to equipment failure at the old homestead, I have no internet service there and service technicians won’t be out to take a look at it (much less fix it) until the following week. Thus, Progressive Ruin Industries will be entering a brief hiatus until at least March 6th, when, with any luck, I’ll return with the latest installment of the End of Civilization. Between then and now, I’ll try to put up the occasional something, if I can prepare it at home and bring it on a flash drive to post with the work computer, but we’ll see. In the meantime, please enjoy the website’s 13+ years’ worth of archives, at least some of which have working links and unbroken images, and you can always see what I’m up to on the Twitters.

Thank you for your patience, and I should be up and running again as normal (or “normal”) soon

EDIT 2/26:: Belay that Low Content Mode, mister! The internet ‘n’ phone people squeezed in an earlier appointment for me, and the situation has been resolved! The Progressive Ruining will continue unabated!

I’ll just apologize for the last gag right here.

§ February 22nd, 2017 § Filed under this week's comics § 3 Comments

So the previous issue of Scooby-Doo! Team-up (featuring Frankenstein Jr.) was a little disappointing, in that there were little-to-no backgrounds in any of the panels. The figure drawing was fine, the writing was at its usual witty standard…but without the backgrounds, they might has well have all been floating in space, rather than in the concert hall the story was supposedly set in. This new issue is a vast improvement in that regard, with the Scooby gang running into Quick Draw McGraw in a dusty western town, with plenty of mountains and deserts caves and streets an’ all. A little scenery goes a long way to establishing some kind of time and place for the goings-on, and the Frankenstein Jr. story suffered without it. …Another aspect of this series I wanted to mention is how they could have very easily had the Scooby-Doo crew team up with a different DC superhero every issue in attempt to grab those direct market sales, but I’m glad they’re balancing issues with Harley Quinn with issues co-starring…well, Quick Draw McGraw, for example. Now, if only we can get Swamp Thing into this comic…
 
 

The current Hellboy storylines seem to be at an end, for now, and I’ve no idea if there’s going to be any forward motion in the Mignolaverse anytime in the near future. There is, however, no end of comics filling in the backstory and the missing years of Hellboy ‘n’ company, and the latest is The Visitor How & Why He Stayed, following up on the aliens that briefly appeared at the very beginnings of Hellboy’s funnybook adventures. I remember during a reread of the Hellboy comics thinking “what was up with the aliens?” and just figured that was an abandoned plot point which no longer fit into Mignola’s evolving storytelling for this series. Thus, this book comes as bit of a surprise, but a welcome one, and certainly a different take on the franchise’s past outside the “here’s another early adventure with Hellboy and the BPRD,” Not that those aren’t fine and great, of course, but The Visitor feels new, like a stretching of the premise. We may not be moving ahead in the Mignolaverse’s timeline just yet, but at least we’re pulling that previously-existing timeline into some different directions. …By the way, if you like the Adventures of Kid Hellboy, this will be a good comic for you to pick up.
 
 

Okay, we still don’t have any definitive answers as to who this Other Clark Kent is, but at this point my initial fear that this story would resolve as part of the larger Watchmen-in-the-DC-Universe metastory has lessened a bit. This appears to be a more conventional “someone we know in disguise as Clark” story (wouldn’t be something if it was Matrix, who somehow survived along with the pre-Flashpoint Clark ‘n’ Lois into the New 52 universe?), but we’ll see what happens. I do still think that the Superman books, as interesting as they are right now, are due for some event crossover rejiggering, with Dr. Manhattan merging timelines together so that the New 52 Superman never existed, the current Superman has always been Superman, the same Lois has always been around, etc. That leaves the fate of Jon, Clark and Lois’s son, with an indeterminate future, but that all depends on how the Super-Sons title fares, I guess. Or maybe that book can just start teaming up with kids of other superheroes. …Can’t think of a whole bunch of them right now, but I definitely pictured Damian Wayne teaming up with the Ghost of Aquababy. …Hey, look, if Richie Rich can team up with Casper….

Also, giving yourself a nickname is never a good look, says the guy calling himself “Mikester” online for, like, decades now.

§ February 20th, 2017 § Filed under archie § 4 Comments

So Archie, the fella who usually has two or more pretty young gals pursuing him at any given time, gets some unsolicited advice on how to handle women from a guy who clearly knows what he’s talking about:


Archie being Archie, he of course takes this advice, laying his cool new ‘tude and his new hairstyle on Veronica:


Surprisingly, it doesn’t work like it does for the Fo–excuse me, for “Funzee,” so the Arch moves on to his next supposed conquest, Betty:


…whose father has the appropriate reaction:


Archie isn’t a complete dummy, however, and abandons his attempt at TV star coolness, just in time for his ironic comeuppance:


Aw, poor guy. Don’t worry, Arch, your time will come soon enough:


 
 

images from Archie Giant Series #461 (September 1977) – also reprinted in the Archie Americana Best of the Seventies trade paperback

In the much-closer-than-I-was-expecting future.

§ February 17th, 2017 § Filed under atlas, publishing § 10 Comments

So twenty or so years ago, when Mystery Science Theater 3000 was still on the air, and a feature film was in the offing, there was a not-insignificant amount of MST3K merchandise floating about. There were the t-shirts, of course, and a promo set of nine trading cards for the film (one of which is pictured to the right, there), and a Dynamic Forces lithograph, and all the stuff from the official fan club…and there was a planned comic book. Acclaim Comics was going to release a Mystery Science Theater 3000 comic book which, if my aged brain recalls correctly, was going to feature Mike and the ‘bots riffing over old Gold Key comics, presumably with their silhouettes superimposed at the bottom of the panels, or something similar.

The comic never did get come out, perhaps due to the MST3K feature film effectively being killed by its very limited release, or perhaps due to comics publishing/marketplace issues…whatever the reason, we didn’t get the funnybook that I, and probably many other MST fans, were hoping for.

Now, in 2017, with a new Mystery Science Theater 3000 TV series in production, and with years’ worth of DVD releases keeping the flame alive, and with the various similar spin-off projects finding new fans (most famously Rifftrax), now apparently is the time to try the comic thing again. Thanks to Johanna for pointing this out, as I somehow missed the announcement, but Dark Horse Comics has entered into a merchandising partnership with MST3K, explicitly mentioning a comic book series as part of the deal. Now, Johanna hopes it’s not just the adventures of the MST crew, and it probably won’t be. I’m sure it’ll be riffing old comics, like the Acclaim series was likely to be…though to be honest, I wouldn’t mind an “Adventures of New Host Jonah and the ‘Bots” series. But man, what I wouldn’t give for some kind of Avengers Forever/Watchmen/Crisis on Infinite Earths/Earth X/Kingdom Come type series tying together all the different iterations of MST3K into one cohesive continuity. Fully painted by Alex Ross, of course. …C’mon, you know that’d be great.

• • •

In response to Turan’s comment regarding what kicked off my Atlas/Seaboard collection, asking if it was the Bog-Beast what did the deed. The answer is no, believe it or not…when I was but a young Mikester, I was given a bag of old (well, perhaps not so old, then) comic books that were purchased at a thrift store. As I wasn’t yet the wizened old comics coot I am today, most of these comics were new to me…including the first issue of Grim Ghost. I thought that comic was pretty great, and when the opportunity arose, I picked up another issue of that series…and eventually, I started picking up others from the publisher, just because they were so like typical ’70s Marvel and DCs, but just different enough to feel sort of weird and mysterious and compelling. I don’t think I decided I was going to try for them all until after I was actually working in comics retail, but I think I figured there were few enough of them that it was worth a try. ‘Course, nearly three decades later I’m still trying to track some down, but that’s okay. All part of the fun of comic collecting!

By the way, I only remember a couple of other comics from that thrift store bag…one was this issue of Shazam! and the other was the Classics Illustrated version of Frankenstein. Man, thank goodness I didn’t get bit by the Classics collecting bug. “Finally collected all the first printings of the series…now to start on the second printings!” said 88-year-old Mike.

Let me tell you a story about Willie.

§ February 16th, 2017 § Filed under jack kirby, retailing § 8 Comments

So this is going back well over a quarter of a century, pretty near 30 years now, when your pal Mike was still but a comics retail neophyte, learning the ropes about slingin’ the funnybooks. We had a customer, Willie, who would come in his old van to the shop once or twice a month, popping in to ask if the latest issue of “the Rabbit” (AKA Usagi Yojimbo) had come in.

Another thing he would ask about is if we had any back issues of The Bug in stock.

Took us a bit to figure out who and what he was talking about. Turns out he was thinking of the character Forager, alternatively known as the Bug, who was a supporting character in Jack Kirby’s New Gods. “Willie,” we would say to him, “do you mean issues of New Gods in which the Bug appeared? Is that what you mean?” And Willie would reply, nope, while that was the character he was definitely thinking of, he specifically remembered the Bug starring in his own solo comic book series, separate from New Gods.

Now, we eventually convinced Willie that he was almost certainly misremembering the comic (in fact, I’d bet money he was thinking of this issue), but he would still bring it up once in a while, as a running joke. My then-coworker Rob and I even toyed with the idea of writing and drawing a short Bug comic to give to him as a gag, but alas, we never did do that.

I haven’t seen Willie in a very long time. I think I last saw him sometime in the early ’90s, and I have only the vaguest memory that he had either moved out of the area or he no longer had the disposable income for even his limited comic book habit…or perhaps both. Whatever the reason, Willie and his van became a nearly forgotten memory of my early comics retailing days.

Nearly forgotten, because just the other day this happened:


…and that memory of Willie and his insistence that a Bug solo comic existed all came back to me. And let me tell you, I had the weirdest combination of bemusement and frustration come over me when I heard about this. I’d actually missed the announcement of this comic, but my longtime customer Brook told me about it and my immediate reaction was an outraged “WHAT!?” Not outraged at the comic itself, mind you, but outrage at my inability to inform Willie that he would finally be getting what he wanted all those years ago.

All I wanted to do was send a message back in time to Willie, telling him to eat right, exercise, cut the cigarettes, and just hang in there ’til 2017 because HERE IT COMES:


Ah, Willie. I hope you’re still out there, and somehow, someway, you know this is happening.

At the very least, I’d like to see an animated version of House of Secrets #92.

§ February 14th, 2017 § Filed under cartoons, movie reviews, swamp thing § 5 Comments


So pretty much in every media adaptation of Swamp Thing, be it cartoon or live action TV show or two fantastic movies or video game, hearing him refer to himself out loud as “Swamp Thing” always sounds just a little goofy. Some kind of weird combination of self-importance and “…seriously, that’s the name you’re going by?” And look, I’m saying this as the guy that, some of you may know, kinda likes this Swamp Thing character. But sometimes, something that reads okay on paper just doesn’t seem to translate to actual spoken out-loud dialogue, and, well, what can you do. And maybe they hit the “I AM THE PROTECTOR OF THE GREEN” thing a little too hard. Still, though, it was nice to see an animated Swamp Thing that had purpose beyond selling toys. Would love to see a standalone Swamp Thing animated movie at some point, but it would have to probably have to shoehorn Batman or Superman into it like they do with pretty much all the direct-to-home-video DC cartoons, like they did with this one, so I’m not holding my breath.

Oh, and by the way, “this one” is Justice League Dark, as some of you probably surmised, teaming up DC’s spooky characters, like Deadman, the Demon, Zatanna, and John Constantine, mispronouncing his name as they have in, I think, every TV and movie version of him:


…but What Can You Do? Despite that particular issue only I care about, I enjoyed the film well enough. It’s still weird seeing Constantine just straight-up casting magical spells like Dr. Fate in an overcoat, which is not something you saw him really do too much in the early comics but is perhaps a bit more frequent in modern funnybooks. But beyond that, it was a good showcase for all the characters, all of whom got something to do, with a variety of action sequences and creepy locations, but that one scene with the cast being chased by a hurricane with a face felt more like something out of Scooby-Doo There was just enough left unexplained in characters’ backgrounds to maybe urge the more inquisitive viewers to Read More About It. Hopefully in the comics, that is, and not just on Wikipedia.

As mentioned above, Batman does appear in the film to help sell it to people for whom the “Justice League” in the title isn’t enough to entice them, but other JLA members appear as well. Alas, though we’ve all moved on to the “Rebirth” era in the comics, the movies are still in their “New 52” phase, so that’s the Superman we get, whose New 52 costume is somehow even worse in animation than it is on the page. Fortunately he’s not in there that much, since that costume more than anything dates the film (to, like, the early ’90s, frankly). Wonder Woman’s New 52-era costume makes an appearance, too, though that’s slightly more tolerable.

I haven’t really gone through the extra features (available on the Blu-ray version) just yet, beyond the “Story of Swamp Thing” short, in which Len Wein and Kelley Jones discuss the character’s origins and history. There are other short pieces titled “Did You Know? CONSTANTINE ORIGIN” and “Casting Deadman” and the like, plus a preview of the New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract cartoon, originally announced years ago, which is finally coming out. (Not that it was made years ago and has been sitting on a shelf, but…well, you know what I mean.) There are also the usual “From the DC Vault” cartoons, this time a couple of episodes of The Brave and the Bold featuring the Demon.

…And speaking of Deadman, Nick Turturro does the perfect voice for him. I don’t know that I ever imagined what Deadman would sound like as I was reading the comics, but now this is the voice. So great.

Overall, an enjoyable film, I thought. Not really expecting a sequel, despite the fact it would be nice to see some…resolution to the seemingly final fates for some of the characters. But, despite what I said above about the possibility, I’m still holding on to that faint hope that maybe, just maybe, now that we’ve cracked the seal, we might see some kind of solo Swamp Thing animated effort. Well, even if it does have to guest-star Batman…whatever it takes, I guess.

Wasn’t going to update today, but vitally important information has come to light.

§ February 13th, 2017 § Filed under swamp thing § 4 Comments

Here is Swamp Thing, as he appears in the video game Injustice 2:

Will be starting my “Buy Mike a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One” GoFundMe campaign shortly.

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