So anyway, I’m seemingly having some site problems.

§ July 1st, 2014 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin § 11 Comments

1. I’ve had reports from folks using the Silk browser on the Kindle that they can’t access my site, receiving a “script not responding” message. (I’ve also had a message or two from folks who say they can bring up my site in Silk just fine.) Have any of you Kindle users had trouble accessing my site? I mean, I suppose if you only have a Kindle for web access, you’ll not see this message, but if you happen to also happen to have a Kindle in addition to whatever magical computo-box you use to look at my ramblings, please let me know.

1a. Alan tells me that searching for my site with the Kindle’s Duck Duck Go app seems to be a workaround, if that helps.

2. I also hear tell that Safari on a laptop also brought up some glitches recently. The only change I’ve made was installing a WordPress plug-in that would streamline the mobile access to my site, which shouldn’t affect Safari browsing, but who knows. Anyone else have recent trouble with my site via laptop browsing?

3. I’ve also once again heard about pop-up ads turning up on my site. Last time this happened, the culprit was adware/malicious plug-ins/etc. on users’ computers, not my site, so I’m hoping that’s the case this time. Well, “hoping” makes me sound like a jerk…I’m not really hoping you guys have viruses on your computers, but as far as I know and can tell, I shouldn’t have any pop-up anythings on my site here. If you see any, let know in as much detail as you can manage (like what they’re advertising, and if there are any “ad supplied by [x]” notations somewhere in the window).

I have multiple computers and phones and even a Nook, at home and at work, with various operating systems and browser types. I have about five different browsers on my personal desktop computer alone. I have never been able to duplicate any of the problems that have been reported to me, which makes me dependent on you folks to let me know when something seemingly goes haywire. Last night, I spent a lot of time bugging Twitter pals about this, including a couple of comic pros who probably could’ve been writing/drawing stuff rather than helping me debug my dumb webpage.

Now, it’s not like my site is cleanly-scripted pure HTML5 poetry. There are a couple of security plug-ins installed, this particular WordPress theme I’m using seems to have vanished from the Internet entirely so it hasn’t been updated in a while, and, well, those Amazon ads in the sidebar which everyone should use and click hint hint shouldn’t be doing anything to my site, and plus I’m secretly installing cookies on every visitor’s computer that will redirect Google image searches to pictures of Swamp Thing and Sluggo, but most of these things don’t seem to cause any access problems as far as I can tell.

The absolute last resort is refurbishing the entire site, getting a new WordPress theme, dropping all the sidebar plug-ins…well, no, the really absolute last resort would be restarting completely from scratch, burning down the old and setting up Progressive Ruin 2.0 (well, 3.0, actually) on the ashes, but nobody wants that. Well, I don’t want that, anyway…some people out there would be glad to see all this nonsense go up in flames. But I’m not ready to give up, and hopefully I can work out whatever quirks exist so that I can still talk to you all about comics without worrying whether or not anyone can see what I’m saying.

Predating the Riddler’s first appearance in Batman comics by about eight years.

§ June 30th, 2014 § Filed under racial sensitivity, retailing § 4 Comments

So we’ve been receiving giant box after giant box from this one gentleman at the shop, each one filled to the brim with comic books, children’s books, toys, what-have-you, dating mostly from the late ’60s through the very early ’90s, with a few from earlier still. One unique element of this collection, very seemingly out of place amongst the ’70s Archie comics and miscellaneous Disney merchandise (including a – gulp! – $300 Donald Duck statue and an Uncle Scrooge “Gold Train” set that is probably even more expensive), was a pile of bagged ‘n’ boarded Silver Surfer #50s, approximately 100 in number, and you can see Employee Aaron with a small selection of them in a photo I posted on the store’s site.

Now, some of the items we didn’t really have any interest in or need for, mostly the children’s books, but this fellow who was selling them to us is in the process of moving and didn’t really want any of this stuff back. Thus, anything we didn’t end up buying, we ended up getting anyway. Alas, one of the reasons we didn’t want many of the children’s books was because, due to poor storage, the majority of them were water-damaged and / or moldy or otherwise just too damaged to be salvaged, and had to be discarded. As a former librarian, and as a lifelong lover of books, I hated disposing of them, but there was no helping it.

Some of the books were able to be saved, and I ended up taking home a bunch of them for myself…and in that pile was this little hardcover book (with dustjacket) from 1940:


About 40 pages or thereabouts, with little black and white illustrations and about three to four jokes per page, most of them about as good as this:


Yup, just full on making fun of overweight people, and making sure to explain the pun with a parenthetical aside just in case you didn’t get it.

Okay, it’s not all terrible. I really like this dumb joke, although you would probably get punched for telling it and rightfully so:


The book also gets all religious-y on you out of nowhere, while simultaneously denying the ineffable essence of our cetacean brethren:


And just to emphasize that inherent superiority of soulful humans, here’s a joke that utilizes stereotyping of Chinese people:


That’s one of two jokes in this book based around our Chinese friends, who are the only ethnicity singled out, surprisingly enough.

And, um, well:


Here’s a joke that probably got a whole lot funnier not much later:


The judges would also have accepted “Timothy Leary.”

The inner flap of the dustjacket features a short introduction to this volume, ending with

“This is a good size book to slip into your pocket and produce at a moment’s notice in order to confound your friends or superior adults who we guarantee will never be able to guess the answers.”

Well, yes, they’ll certainly be confounded:


There’s an extra helping of mental trauma in that joke, Little Billy! Enjoy your next meal!

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ June 26th, 2014 § Filed under End of Civilization § 5 Comments

Once again the end is nigh, and let us go together through this prophetic tome of doom (AKA Diamond Previews July 2014 edition) and see what awaits. Note: contains one local reference for punk rock fans or close readers of Love and Rockets, and a couple of links to YouTube files, at least one of which should not be clicked on in the presence of loved ones, the family pastor, or sensitive rodents. LET THE END BEGIN:

p. 90 – Superman Unchained #9:


It’s the final issue of what turned out to be a mini-series, which retailers weren’t warned about when it started, so it sure is nice for DC to buy back all those #1s everyone way overordered back then…wait, what? They’re not? Ah, well, that’s okay. Quarter boxes exist for a reason — right, two-or-three-relaunches-back Marvel series?

p. 128 – Batman and Superman Wood Figures:

p. 239 – Pen & Paper Gamer T-Shirt:


Hold on…an Antarctic Press t-shirt that isn’t mashing up Star Trek or Star Wars with, like, steampunk bacon or something? WHOA. Well, okay, a Klingon said that phrase along the bottom once, but still.

p. 259 – God Is Dead #19:


Hey, it’s the special Nardcore issue!

p. 412 – Big Hero 6: The Essential Guide HC:


“SPECIAL NOTE TO INVESTORS: probably too late to start trying to buy Big Hero 6 back issues for quick fat-cash turnaround.”

Also, “From the creators of Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen.” Great, I loved their work in the original Big Hero 6 comics.

p. 413 – Doctor Who Mad Libs:


“Fezzes are [adjective rhyming with 'pool']!”

“It’s [adjective rhyming with 'digger'] on the inside!”

“Oh for God’s sake it’s [just write in 'Rose' here] again.”

p. 474 – Firefly Malcolm Reynolds 1/6-Scale Action Figure:


Sure, at $179.95 the price seems a bit steep, but this is a high-quality figure with which you can act out your own new Firefly adventures for a good, long time, since the actual show is never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever coming back to TV.

p. 482 – Re-Animator Finger Creature 1/1-Scale Prop Replica:


Sure, that’s all well and good, but will they be doing a prop replica of that…other reanimated creature from the third film Beyond Re-Animator? (WARNING: Link not safe for work, or pretty much anywhere)

p. 511 – Star Wars Rebels Medium Talking Plushies:


This magical plushie doll comes in the shape of the Star Wars Rebels logo, and says “I’m a Disney/Lucasfilm trademark” whenever it’s lovingly squeezed!

p. 521 – Pop! Breaking Bad Vinyl Figures:


I’m glad to see Breaking Bad Babies is finally getting some traction. Also, there may be a spoiler in that figure assortment.

p. 528 – Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy masks:


Well, my wardrobe for the coming fetish ball is all sorted out. Also, what if Baron Zemo was wearing one of those Rocket Raccoon masks instead of that other thing he had on when that accident with Adhesive-X permanently bonded it to his skin? Marvel’s WWII would have gone slightly differently, I’ll tell you that for free.

p. 535-6 – Assorted Walking Dead masks:


You know, this gives me an idea to help all those costume companies avoid heavy expenses with any defective masks that come off the assembly line (or whatever). If the mask comes out deformed or torn or whatever, just paint it to look like rotting bloody flesh and call it a “zombie mask!” I mean, what the heck, right? No one’s going to complain it doesn’t look like a zombie. Like, say, those Guardians of the Galaxy masks. If you had a bad batch come through, just slap a new paintjob on them and suddenly you have “Tree Zombie,” “Zombie Raccoon,” and “Ummm…Darth Zombie, I Guess.”

No need to thank me.

p. 536 – Walking Dead Rick Grimes Machete:


You can buy this for $19, or, um, you know. Of course, you’d have to put the blood spatter on it yourself, but that was just a suggestion, Your Honor, I didn’t actually tell anyone they had to do that.

p. 537 – Galaga Pillow:


So I can just wait for one of those mothership thingies to swoop down and grab my pillow with its tractor beam, I can shoot it later and suddenly have two pillows! My plan is flawless!

Now if Lex had a stuffed tiger, that would be a strip.

§ June 25th, 2014 § Filed under comic strips, lex luthor § 4 Comments

Having watched just a few weeks ago the Dear Mr. Watterson documentary on Netflix, and with Bill Watterson’s recent brief return to the the comics page, I was fairly well primed to revisit his famous Calvin & Hobbes strip. Fortunately, I own a set of the slipcased hardcovers reprinting the whole shebang and was able to satisfy this urge in short order. Unlike the esteemed Mr. Isabella, who has the astounding self-control to restrict himself to only a week’s worth of strips at a time, I would read huge amounts at any given opportunity, immersing myself in Mr. Watterson’s imagination for an hour or so.

While the strips’ run concludes with a fairly open-ended Sunday page, essentially indicating that the pals’ adventures will continue, even if we won’t see them for ourselves, there is at least one bit of closure, I think, prior to the end, with Rosalyn the babysitter. All of her previous appearances involve direct, angry (or at least highly annoyed) conflict between Rosalyn and Calvin, but in her final story sequence, Rosalyn and Calvin finally find common ground:


Ah, Calvinball. The great equalizer. It’s the one time the two characters manage to get along peacefully, bringing a happy ending of sorts to the long series of battles they’ve endured over the history of the strip. It’s no Charlie Brown finally saying “hello” to the little red-haired girl, but it’ll do.

• • •

I also recently read a handful of ’70s and ’80s Lex Luthor appearances, because I miss this version of Lex Luthor, the one with the green ‘n’ purple jumpsuit:


…who would also occasionally disguise himself like, oh, say, Kurt Vonnegut:


One of the big losses of the mid-1980s Superman reboot was losing the “fiendish schemes” of the “criminal scientist” era of Luthor, who was in at least some measure occasionally sympathetic and even funny, in favor of the cruel and unpleasant businessman Luthor. There was some slight return to the somewhat goofily-evil in-love-with-his-own-voice Luthor in the last decade or so, even to some extent in the post New 52 DC Universe, but nothing is quite the same as Lex in his green/purple tights and his bandoliers, zipping around in his rocket pack.
 
 

images from The Complete Calvin & Hobbes Volume 3 (2005) by Bill Watterson, and Action Comics #510 (August 1980) by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte

Colors have been changed to protect the innocent.

§ June 23rd, 2014 § Filed under customer gary § 2 Comments

So I reposted on the Twitters the other day my old sketch for a two-person Lickitung costume…Lickitung of course being the greatest Pokemon of them all. Here is the sketch in question:


Well, Customer Gary…Employee Gary, now, as he comes in and helps out a few days a week…has a talent for taking our silly ideas and expanding them into things both strange and wonderful. And he’s done it again, having spotted said sketch in my Twitter feed and evolving it into this postcard-sized whirlpool of oddity:


I wonder if I actually mailed any of these, how many would make it to their destinations versus being kept in a “watch for future mailings from Mike Sterling” file at Post Office HQ.

So anyway, have I shown you this Man-Thing sticker from 1975?

§ June 20th, 2014 § Filed under giant-size man-thing, trading cards § 14 Comments


That’s the joke you’re going with, 1970s-era Marvel and / or Topps? Well, okay then.

IRON MAN, NO!

§ June 18th, 2014 § Filed under marvel § 3 Comments


 
 

image from Iron Man #102 (September 1977) by Bill Mantlo, George Tuska, Mike Esposito & Pablo Marcos

Now I kind of want to see a “Groo Vs. Nexus” series.

§ June 16th, 2014 § Filed under cheese dip, this calls for hyperspeed § 4 Comments

So after my Groo post from last week, there was some lamentation, both on my site and on the Twitters, regarding the lack of easily-accessible Groo reprints. And, sure enough, a quick search of the Diamond Distributors database reveals that only one book, Groo: The Hogs of Horder (a 2010 collection reprinting the most recent series from 2009), is still available for order.

There have been a number of Groo trade paperbacks over the years, with Marvel/Epic reprinting its Groo comics starting with The Groo Adventurer, followed by The Groo Bazaar, and The Groo Carnival and you probably see the pattern by now. When Groo moved to Dark Horse, the paperbacks reprinting the Marvel/Epic run continued there in the same fashion, making it all the way up to The Groo Odyssey in 2003. Dark Horse also reprinted the various Groo mini-series they published, each in their own trade.

I only sorta vaguely remembered that this was going to be a thing, the Groo Treasury which was going to reprint the earliest material, but was held up due to production issues.

That doesn’t explain why the more recent, and presumably more easily accessible, Groo comics that Dark Horse published aren’t still in print, other than possibly a lack of resources to keep them available, particularly with those foreboding Star Wars-less days looming ahead for the publisher. Or that perhaps with the recent gap between new Groo series, there was a perception that the time wasn’t right to focus on keeping those items available versus promoting other product lines. Or maybe the last batch of printings took a while to move and that discouraged any immediate printing of new stock. Or, who knows? I don’t work at Dark Horse, I have no idea.

I’m hoping the about-to-be-unleashed Groo Vs. Conan sells spectacularly, thus encouraging more thoughts about getting old Groo back into print. That any work by Sergio Aragones, one of the world’s greatest living cartoonists, is not in print and prominently featured in every bookstore everywhere, is a damned shame.

• • •

My old pal Cully (you remember Cully, who got to hang with King Jack) asked, in the comments to that same Groo post, the slightly…well, okay, totally off-topic question of “what would be a good Nexus storyline?” Maybe not completely off-topic, since we are talking about good comics, I suppose.

Someone already responded with “the first 50 issues,” which is Nexus in its prime. As long as you have the original creators, Mike Baron and Steve Rude, working together, you’re pretty okay. Those original 50 did have some art fill-ins from time to time, but it all holds together well. (#29 has guest-art by Rick Veitch, and #28 is drawn by Mike Mignola, for example.) The first four issues of the color series were more or less self-contained, and issues 5 through 8 (which carried over the series’s transition from Capital Comics to First Comics) are an extended storyline, guest-starring the Badger, which is a lot of fun.

Unlike Groo, Nexus does have many currently-available reprint volumes. The first Nexus Ominbus contains the original three-issue black and white magazine series, as well as the first eleven issues of the color series, and at the beginning is as good as place as any to start. The b&w issues, and even the earliest color issues, aren’t quite as polished as the later work, which can only be expected, but there is still an excitement and energy to them that is hard to resist.

Also, I know you were asking for someone else, but Cully, read the Nexus: God Con mini. Trust me on this.

“Uh-oh.” “Uh-oh.” “Uh-oh.” “Uh-oh.” “Ah!”

§ June 13th, 2014 § Filed under cheese dip § 6 Comments

Another favorite moment from comics, from Groo the Wanderer #100 (April 1993) by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier: Groo, having spent months learning to read from the last guardian of a hidden underground treasure, eventually makes his way to a nearby town where he spends all of his time in its library, putting aside his swords in favor of using and enjoying his newly-found skill. Eventually, Groo (to whom the guardian had passed responsibility for the treasure with his dying breath…dying of old age, not of Groo, surprisingly enough) starts bringing some of the gold to the library so they can purchase new material for their shelves.

Word gets out that this town now seemingly has some new secret source of wealth, and treasure-seekers come from far and wide to tear up the town, resulting in the following scene:


…and then Groo does what he does best, only better than usual now that he’s just slightly smarter than he was before, turning the tables on a few old enemies who used to take advantage of his dimwittedness.

It’s one of the two big changes made to Groo‘s formula over the lifetime of its multiple series, with the other being the addition of Groo’s canine pal Rufferto. It’s also one of the few times where Groo is given bit of additional emotional depth, where he finally becomes just self-aware enough to realize what he’d been before and how he’d been treated, and the importance of what was being destroyed, not by his own ignorance as per the conclusion of most Groo stories, but by the ignorance of those around him.

Also, as a former librarian, I do enjoy the occasional message to the masses that, hey, libraries are important. I certainly would have liked to have had access to swords back then to help get that point across.

“…But justice is always ready for you!”

§ June 11th, 2014 § Filed under superman § 7 Comments

Another thing I love from comics…this final battle between Superman and Murdermek from the pages of DC Comics Presents #61 (September 1983) by Len Wein, George Perez, Pablo Marcos and Rick Hoberg:


This issue teamed Superman with OMAC, the One Man Army Corps, so here’s a shot of him from earlier in the issue:


Man, that’s comics.

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