I haven’t had the time to generate actual content…

§ August 13th, 2015 § Filed under low content mode, the eBay, zines § 6 Comments

…so please accept this scan of a Linda Ronstadt book from 1978 in its stead:

lr
I currently have this up on the eBay, so I’m using this as an excuse to plug my eBay auctions, I guess.

Oh, this does remind me, I did recently list some other music-related magazines that may be of interest to funnybook fans, such as these issues of the music ‘zine Who Put the Bomp. Issue #7 from 1971 has a cover by underground comics artist George Hansen:

bomp71971

…while #9 from 1972 has a cover by another underground cartoonist, Jay Kinney:

bomp91972

Later the mag shortened its name to Bomp and went to slick color covers, such as this one for #18 from 1978 by William Stout:

bomp181978

Also, I’ll put up actual scans of those first two Bomps here when I get a chance…the digital photos didn’t work as well as I thought they would.

So there you go…I started off claiming there would be no content, and lo, there was content. Just how do I do it? I must be some kind of miracle worker.

More stuff tomorrow, pals.

So this is like the third post in a row about a movie I haven’t seen yet.

§ August 10th, 2015 § Filed under fantastic four, movie reviews, self-promotion § 11 Comments

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!

A lot about the Fantastic Four, and a wee bit about Miracleman.

§ August 7th, 2015 § Filed under fantastic four, miraclemarvelman § 5 Comments

In response to yesterday’s post, Earl asked:

“Out of curiosity, regarding Doom, do you have a favorite version of him from the various Marvel animated series?”

And to be honest…aside from my memories of watching a whole lot of the 1960s Spider-man cartoon, and some random installments of various series here and there over the decades, I really wasn’t much of a Marvel cartoon watcher. I have a vague memory of watching some animated version of Doom who spoke with a heavy accent, but I’m not sure what cartoon that may have been from, assuming I didn’t just cook that up myself in this aging brain of mine. The end result is that I don’t really recall enough about any of these cartoons to be able to pick out a fave Doom.

Earl suggested the Dr. Doom from the 1960s Fantastic Four cartoon [EDIT: um, Earl actually said the Doom from the 1970s FF cartoon – oops, my brain apparently needs new batteries], and having taken a brief look at a sample:


…why, he’s adorable! That’s some voice he’s got, so watch enough of the video I linked there to experience it yourself.

Other comments from yesterday: esteemed longtime reader G23 suggests that maybe they should just stop trying to do a live action FF altogether, and while I understand the frustration, I’d hate to not see one at all. Now, I realize a live action FF wouldn’t add anything to the comics, wouldn’t improve the overall state of culture, wouldn’t cure the common cold, etc. and so on, but boy I’d like to see one anyway, and I don’t think it’s so insurmountable a task that it can’t be done. I know it’s fanboyish wishful thinking, but it’s so fundamentally a part of the artform I’ve devoted most of my life to, I’d hate that the world at large wouldn’t get to experience at least some portion as to why we all like the FF so much. In fairness, though there was a lot they didn’t get right, at least those two previous Fantastic Four movies managed to do a good job with Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew. The Thing, as I have noted before, is one of those creations that is so strong on its own that its basic essence can survive even the worst circumstances, though I understand the new film puts even that to the test.

Anyway, I think a good FF film isn’t impossible. It’ll probably just take a little more understanding about what made the original comics work, and a little less fixing it ’til it’s broken.

Another longtime commenter Jer notes that the problem with getting a Dr. Doom that’s like the Dr. Doom in the comics comes down to basic Hollywood blockbuster film-making. Everything’s gotta tie together, that gun in Act One better shoot something in Act Three, an’ all that. The trend — and Jer lists several examples — is that the villain is inextricably tied to the hero’s origin. And, in a way, the Doom of the comics is tied to the heroes…specifically, to his old college roommate Reed Richards, who tried to warn him about his experiments, and, well, you get the picture. But that’s probably not dynamic enough for a Big Moving Talkie, so we get the Doom who’s caught in the same accident as the rest of the FF and thus also gets superpowers.

Now arguably, one could say that there’s no such connection between the film versions of Superman and Lex Luthor, or between Nolan’s version of Batman and the Joker. But even without an origin/plot connection, there’s a thematic connection: brain versus brawn, order versus chaos. I suppose Reed Vs. Doom could be “science for good vs. science for evil,” but that’s not quite as basic a thematic struggle on which to hang your superhero movie, I guess.

At any rate, we’re probably some ways away from the next attempt at the World’s Greatest Comics Magazine That Hasn’t Quite Managed A Great Movie Yet, but I hear tell the final battle in the new film actually approaches the FF we know. Maybe, on the very slim chance the planned sequel actually happens, we can get past this rough set-up and get down to the business of punching Galactus and tangling with the Impossible Man, as God, and Stan and Jack, intended.

• • •

In other news, someone asked Neil Gaiman on the Twitterers how many new issues he and Mark Buckingham were going to produce to wrap up his Miracleman story, and the answer was “about nine.” The reprints for the previously-issued Gaiman and Buckingham comics are about to start up, so we’re that much closer to seeing some decades-old plot threads finally getting resolved. Barring any more production errors, of course.

This is not a review of the new Fantastic Four movie.

§ August 6th, 2015 § Filed under movie reviews § 6 Comments

[…but the SPOILER ALERT is in place in case you want to know NOTHING about the new film]

So one of the questions I heard a lot over the course of my Wednesday was “did you see the Deadpool trailer, and as I type this I still haven’t see the main trailer, which is one of those naughty “red band” trailers that doesn’t censor things like “fuck” or “shit” or other words I would never, ever use on my site. However, I did see the trailer-for-the-trailer which is a thing we do now I guess, and I suppose it was amusing enough. However, I’m one of those funnybook-readin’ guys that never really got into Deadpool. I mean, I get the character’s appeal, I’m glad people are really into him, and I really, really hope Marvel doesn’t burn people out on him anytime soon, like the last time Deadpool was prominent in the marketplace. Or maybe I’m thinking of the Punisher. Or Wolverine. Or Ghost Rider. Anyway, you get my point.

Oh, okay, after the end of that paragraph and the beginning of this one I went ahead and watched the full trailer, since I was going to have to copy the URL for the link above anyway. It’s…well, it’s a lot bloodier than I was expecting, and the CGI Deadpool mask actually worked okay (putting half-lie to the whole “don’t make my costume green or animated” gag, referencing Ryan Reynolds’s’ previous superhero role). I can see parents taking their kids to see this new Marvel superhero movie, expecting more of the usual formula, and getting blindsided by the usual formula plus sex and George Carlin’s Seven Words, and never going to a Marvel movie ever again. Or maybe this is just what the superhero movie marketplace needed, and Deadpool will be the greatest cinematic achievement in film history, crashing economies as every available dollar, euro and Geoffrey Buck gets sucked into box offices around the world. Or maybe nobody will see it all. I’m definitely putting my dime on one of those options, or somewhere between. That’s right, that’s my position and I’m sticking to it, and I don’t care who’s offended.

Speaking of Marvel movies nobody’s seeing, the latest in what apparently will be a long line of Fantastic Four reboots, stretching (heh) out into infinity is opening this week. Or has opened. Or will opened. Regardless, word on the ol’ Internet superhighway is that…well, it ain’t good. Which is a shame, because I noted on this site a while back that the trailer made it look less like a superhero movie and more like a high-end science fiction film, and that seemed like a good way to go. And despite reaction, I still kind of want to see it, maybe via Netflix someday rather than enduring a theater visit, if only to enjoy the cinematography and effects and to see maybe if Mr. Fantastic’s stretchy powers actually work onscreen this time.

What bothers me most is that Doctor Doom once again is given superpowers from the accident that transforms everybody, like in the FF films from a decade ago. I mean, yeah, I can see the filmmakers wanting to make sure Doom seems like he can stand on his own against the Fantastic Four by ramping up his special abilities, because as we know there’s no way an audience is going to accept just a more-or-less normal guy in a metal suit in a superhero film. But as I said on Twitter just the other day:


…and granted, Doom did steal the Surfer’s powers in Rise of the Silver Surfer, so that movie at least had that. But as I lamented last year:


It’s like they’re afraid to let Stan and Jack’s creation be Stan and Jack’s creation. Yes, some compromises and changes need to be made…it’s not the early 1960s anymore, and film ain’t comics, but surely there must be a way to capture the essence of the original stories while making them appeal to modern movie audiences. Or maybe there isn’t. Maybe there’s just a magic there that can never translate. Almost wish Marvel’s film studio could get the rights back to the FF, because they’ve had a stronger history getting these characters onscreen and making them appealing.

Also I’m annoyed because I want them to do enough FF movies in a row without rebooting so that maybe we can get an actual, real, live-action Galactus onscreen (and not that stupid smoke cloud from the FF Silver Surfer film). Ooh, and the Watcher, too, so long as I’m dreaming, and if they don’t make him look like the Queen of Hearts from that Tim Burton Alice film, what with that big ol’ noggin of his.

Let me leave you with some words to think about, from Twitter pal Steven:

But will either of these projects tell us which first issues will be hot hot HOT?

§ August 3rd, 2015 § Filed under pal plugging, self-promotion § 5 Comments

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.

Are you an Ant-Man or a Can’t-Man?

§ July 31st, 2015 § Filed under movie reviews § 2 Comments

Just got in from seeing Ant-Man…it’s nearing midnight as I write this, so I’ll keep it short. Or small. Like an ant. An ant man.

Hold on, let me try that again.

Just saw Ant-Man, and it was a vast improvement over the last Marvel film inflicted on us, Avengers: Age of Disjointed Nonsense. While I wasn’t terribly eager for yet another superhero origin story, this one was unique (I believe) in that it gave us our first legacy superhero, more or less, in which an older hero passes down his name and powers and so forth to another. It was also a story which worked at a much smaller (har har, yes, I know) scale than recent Marvel movies, less bogged down by the shared universe, or at least incorporating it in a more natural, less in-your-face fashion. Having only one superhero guest-star during the course of the main story was something of a relief, though from the looks of things we’re going to get the exact opposite of that in this forthcoming Civil War movie.

Anyway, it was exciting and interesting, and, something the Marvel movies have been particularly good at, funny without undermining the characters. If anything the humor helps along that suspension of disbelief required to buy into all this craziness. That’s the kind of deep insight that keeps you two or three dozen people coming back to Progressive Ruin Dot Com.

The film also had one of the greatest, most fitting cameos of all time. No, not Stan the Man (yes, he’s there)…I’m talking about this fella. And I gotta give them credit for actually working the phrase “tales to astonish” — the name of the comic Ant-Man first appeared in — into the dialogue.

So, Ant-Man: surprisingly good. I’d recommend you go see it, because I’m sure you totally haven’t by now.

That’s it, I’m off to bed. Pleas-ANT dreams!

(sigh)

Didn’t even care enough to capitalize the name.

§ July 29th, 2015 § Filed under publishing § 5 Comments

So the other day I bought a handful of comics (from someone surprised I wanted these over the ubiquitous Web of Spider-Man issues also in his possession) that included these two mini-series: Disney’s Pocahontas:

…and Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame:


These two minis are reprints of the one-shot adaptations also released in the mid-1990s. The Overstreet guide lists the one-shots, but not these minis, as far as I can tell. I had actually started typing a long-ish paragraph speculating as to the origins of these minis, but the process of doing so awakened some ancient memories in this cobwebbed brain of mine. A little Googling confirmed those dusty recollections, that these two-issue minis were sold in two-packs in toy stores and such, as shown in this image “borrowed” from this eBay auction:


Why the one-shots were split into two comics for sale this way? I’m assuming so that the customer feels like s/he’s getting more bang for that two or two-and-a-half bucks, over paying the same amount for just one single comic that’s basically the same thing.

It does solve the mystery of why no cover prices are present, though the indicias in the comics do have suggested retail prices.

Mostly the reason I wanted to present these here are the Comics Code Authority stamps on the covers. Pocahontas has the traditional stamp we all know and love:

…but apparently when they were slapping together the Hunchback covers someone misplaced the photostats (or whatever) and someone was all like “c’mon, nobody cares, just type it in there” –


…and there you go. Not quite “Cosmic Code Authority” level, but an interesting variation on that familiar cover element nonetheless.

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ July 27th, 2015 § Filed under End of Civilization § 9 Comments

What? Time for one of these again? Say it ain’t so…but it is! It is! The End of Civilization waits for no man, and we can see what’s barreling right down the tracks at us by getting our your copy of the August 2015 Diamond Previews and following along! I apologize ahead of time for my overlooking such things as “publishing lead times” for the sake of a joke, as well as any tummy upset that may occur during, um, a couple of the entries:

p. 78 – Superman Lois & Clark #1:


Hey, finally we get a spin-off from the Convergence event, and…huh, it’s not based on the Shazam! comic that everyone was excited about. That’s funny, you’d think you’d want to build on that buzz, but, well, this will probably be good, too.
 
 
p. 79 – Telos #1:


Oh, okay, here’s a Convergence spin-off featuring…um, I don’t see the Shazam! characters anywhere. That’s strange.
 
 
p. 80 – Titans Hunt #1:


Ah, here we go, Captain Marvel’s probably in there some…where…there’s Batman, and Starfire, and…huh.
 
 
p. 144-5 -Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Batman and Superman Statues:


“TELL ME…DO YOU BLEED?”


“No, but I have this support bar that makes me look like I’m flying! You should try yours…oh, you don’t have one? So sad!”

 
 
p. 324 – Grumpy Cat #1:


“We must prevent Grumpy Cat and Hello Kitty from ever touching…or the resultant matter/anti-matter explosion will destroy the universe!”

Anyway, just working on my pitch for the eventual team-up book. Don’t none of you bastards steal my idea.
 
 
p. 408 – The Comic Story of Beer GN:


Missed opportunity to have a special “water ring damaged” variant.
 
 
p. 423 – Dreamworks Classics Digest Vol. 2:


Alas, not a “team-up” book where Po just beats the tar out of Shrek. Someday, my friends…someday.
 
 
p. 467 – Make Comics Like the Pros SC:


Presumably includes a special chapter on how to deal with a bunch of ungrateful online jerks who don’t appreciate your hard work and mock you in, say, website posts.
 
 
p. 468 – 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die HC and 1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die HC:


“Ah HA! If I never watch the 1001st movie or TV show, I will never die!”

“But Mike, the 1001st movie is Frank Miller’s The Spirit II and the 1001st TV show is an unaired episode of Doctor Doctor!”

“Well…who wants to live forever? DIIIIVE”
 
 
p. 473 – The Walking Dead The Pop-Up Book HC:


You remember those Al Jaffee drawings from Mad where a character vomits, and there’s just this huge massive jet emitting from the poor character’s mouth, filled with, like, bones and stuff? I sorta picture the same jet of bones ‘n’ junk shooting out of this book when you open it.
 
 
p. 521 – Star Wars Kitchen Storage Set:


Nobody enjoys Droid Constipation Repair duty.
 
 
p. 525 – Star Wars Jedi Hooded Robe:


That is one tall Jawa…
 
 
p. 525 – Star Wars Chewbacca Fleece Robe:


…and here he is in his Wookiee cosplay. “Uti-GRAWRG!”
 
 
Marvel Previews p. 42 – What If? Infinity – Thanos #1:


The origin of Thanos’s villainy, revealed at last: everybody laughed at his convention costumes. Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Cloud…nobody appreciated his work.

…Now you’re probably picturing Thanos in Namor’s little green Speedos. You’re welcome.

You don’t really need me linking you to the new Bloom Country strips, do you?

§ July 23rd, 2015 § Filed under pal plugging, sir-links-a-lot § 1 Comment

 

We now return to Progressive Ruin, which is already in progress(ive ruin).

§ July 21st, 2015 § Filed under retailing § 5 Comments

Sorry I missed Monday…was too beat Sunday evening to work my little typin’ fingers.

Anyway, judging by the response to this post, most comic shops do carry credit cards (with one or two minor exceptions). That’s good to know, though I’ll tell you, over the weekend I had several more “do you take cards?” inquiries. Maybe I need to start asking these folks if they’d been to comic shops that didn’t sometime recently…or maybe they hadn’t been in a comic shop in 30 years. Who knows?

Walaka asks:

“On a related note, aren’t most of them debit cards now, or are folks actually putting comics on credit?”

It’s a pretty good mix of both, I think…people paying for their comics directly out of their checking account, or (hopefully) paying off their credit cards at the end of the month. I think it leans heavier towards debit cards, if I think about it.

That Augie De Blieck Jr. character wonders:

“There used to be a law against minimum credit card purchases. Not sure if that was a state or federal law, but it seems to have slipped away over the years. Either it changes, or so many businesses started to ignore it that it wouldn’t matter.”

There wasn’t a law as such, I think*, though the merchant agreements from the various cards prohibited setting minimum purchases. Though, as is implied in your statement, enforcement was a little lax. And eventually, a law was passed allowing minimum purchase limited, so long as it wasn’t more than $10, and as long as it was applied solely to credit cards. You still can’t put minimum purchase limits on debit cards. Here’s one place where the law is discussed.

*A CAVEAT: I could have sworn California did have some kind of law on the books preventing minimum credit card purchases at one point, but my brief Googling about didn’t turn it up. Though it doesn’t matter now, as per above.

Jim Kosmicki relates:

“…Saw a note taped near the cashbox/register stating that there would be no more loans made from the cash register.”

EGADS. I’m assuming that was for the employees. Just trying to picture customers walking in and asking “hey, can I borrow five bucks? I’ll pay you back next week!”

Will H queries:

“But who still takes checks?”

I do! Well, mostly it’s just from one fellow, and it’s a guy I’ve had as a customer for 20+ years, so I figure his checks are probably okay. Aside from him, I’ve probably only had…two or three other people write checks to me? Not a common payment method nowadays, though as I related to someone on the Twitters the other day, as a business owner I still write a few checks, for rent and utilities and such.

This reminds me of a customer we had at my previous place of employment who always paid with a check. That wasn’t unusual, except the only personal information he had on his check was his name. No phone number, no address, no driver’s license number, nuthin’. And he invariably made purchases in the hundreds of dollars, breaking a thousand bucks at least once in my memory. The first time I dealt with him at the register, I was about to get his ID and my old boss waved it off, saying “he’s fine, don’t worry about it,” implying a relationship that preexisted my employment. And sure enough, for the rest of the years I was there, and with all the checks the guy wrote us, every single one was good. Plus, in later years I got to tell other employees “yeah, his check’s good, don’t sweat it” and have them give me the same look I probably gave Ralph all those years ago.

Former Employee Nathan tells us:

“I *do* get asked pretty often ‘Do you accept cards?,’ but that’s very likely a regional tic, as [San Francisco] has a rather large number of cash-only restaurants and specialty retail stores.”

Huh, that’s a good point, given your location. I’m pretty sure that’s not what’s going on here, unless the bar down the road is cash only and I’m getting lots of traffic from there.

Brad smashes Big Brother with:

“Sure, but do you take Apple Pay?”

I’ll trade comics for iPhones and iPads, sure.

• • •

So long to Alan Kupperberg, who passed away at the too-young age of 62. That man wrote and drew one of my all-time favorite oddball Marvel comics, and bless him for it.

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