Get this popcorn to Sickbay.

§ November 14th, 2016 § Filed under pal plugging, retailing, star trek, star wars § 4 Comments


So my pal Bully, the little bull stuffed with lovin’, is a bit down in the dumps at the moment, and he can use a little support. I posted that above image, made long ago and posted on this site before, to my Twitter account (with a link to Bully’s account), and have been asking people to retweet it. Hopefully, when Bully peeks in on his own Twitter feed, he’ll see all the support he’s been getting there. If you’ve got a Twitter account and can retweet that tweet, please do. You can “like” it, too, but definitely retweet so it gets around. Thanks!

• • •

In other news…this is a hell of thing:

Life goes on, and this weekend life brought me a whole lotta boxes of old Star Wars and (to a much lesser extent) Star Trek goodies…boxes shown here:

Mostly unopened action figures, with some other related items, like that Vanity Fair with the — Star Wars cover, I think? — peeking out the translucent plastic , there. And there are some TV Guides, with multiple covers for one issue featuring lenticular images of the Star Wars cast…can’t remember ever seeing those particular Guides before. Anyway, I’ll have plenty to look at and almost certainly post here once I figure out a strategy of how I’m going to deal with all these items. I mean, aside from keeping all the droid toys for myself. Oh, man, if there’s an intact Droid Factory playset in here, I’m closing for the day and just building droids ’til the wee hours.

Of course, the real trick here is determining prices, since it’s been a long time since I’ve had to deal with Star Wars/Trek figures, with not much of an idea of the secondary market on some of these things. I have vague memories of there being some collector demand for certain figures with particular part/run numbers and so on, but I can see that driving me crazy in short order. But that’s just a matter of research…and frankly, both I and the person I’m selling these for are more interested in moving the majority of them out for bargain prices rather than trying to sell that one special Ugnaught w/Variant Purple Speckled Overalls for an extra dollar or two on eBay. But the plan is that some will go on eBay, most will go in the store for relatively inexpensive prices, what with the Christmas holiday coming up…though I’m not sure how many kids are going to want to find a Phantom Menace Ric Olié action figure under the tree, regardless if it’s the “closed-hand variant” or not.

And then there’s the problem of me wanting any of these for myself. For the most part I’ve been pretty good about not buying toys for myself (aside for those toys of a Swamp Thing-ish persuasion, of course) but the little droid figures are just so appealing to me. If I’d had my wits about me as a young Mikester, I could have restricted myself to just buying the droid figures from the Star Wars line all this time and amassed a tiny robot army. Alas, I can only collect so much, what with the comic books, buttons, and glow-in-the-dark novelty socks I’m already gathering. Despite all that, I bet I’ll probably keep something out of these boxes. I’m weak, I can’t help myself.

One thing I probably won’t be keeping is that sealed package of promotional Star Trek: Voyager popcorn, pictured above. From what I understand, while unpopped kernels can last indefinitely if stored in an airtight container and kept cool and dry, kernels in a microwave package can go bad relatively quickly. Don’t eat these at home, kids! I’m wondering if I can get away with selling this on the eBay as long as I put a bit warning in the listing: DO NOT POP OR CONSUME – BAG IT UP, PUT IT WITH YOUR OTHER STAR TREK STUFF. …Actually, between typing that last sentence and typing this one, I did check the eBays and found a couple packs of these for sale there, between $10 and $27. Guess I’ll be throwing my hat into the highly competitive Promotional Popcorn Packaging arena.

• • •

Blogging pal Tim continues his series of essays with this latest installment, “Someday We Will All Be Free.” Maybe contribute to his Patreon. (ooh and maybe mine, too)

And now, escapism.

§ November 11th, 2016 § Filed under lex luthor, this week's comics § 7 Comments


While I’ve commented before on the unusually complicated yet compelling premise of the current Superman titles, I haven’t said much about Lex Luthor’s development in these post-Rebirth comics. Picking up on threads from the latter part of DC’s New 52 era, Luthor has seemingly decided to become a superhero…literally, with the New 52’s Superman’s death, becoming Superman, with the “S” logo and everything. It seems apparent that Luthor is trying to force himself into a role for which he is ill-prepared, though via his own egotistical self-aggrandizement he feels he is the better fit for the job than his predecessor.

Now, given Luthor’s portrayals in the past, we, the readers, know this almost certainly can’t end well. From our perspective, we’ve seen how Luthor behaves, we’ve seen the crimes he’s committed, we’ve seen him brag about his misdeeds…we know, despite the many changes he may have undergone over the years, that there is a rotten core that is always present, no matter how respectable the exterior appears. The other characters in the comics know this as well…they of course are limited to whatever experiences they are allowed within the latest permutation of their shared fictional universe, but a Luthor never changes his spots, as it were, and despite any superficial efforts at semi-redemption, the inertia of Luthor’s portrayal over the decades will certainly result in a return to form.

In this week’s issue of Action, this bears out, given that visitors from the future have come back to the present to put a stop to Luthor before he becomes a universal scourge, a tyrannical madman with ultimate power crushing all before him. We don’t have the full story yet about this, of course, but totally within possibility knowing what we know about him.

Interestingly, undermining Luthor’s perhaps spurious attempts at redefinition is a secondary plotline, hinted at in this issue of Action but primarily playing out in Superwoman, is the fact that he is currently under the influence of enemy agency. Specifically, it’s his estranged sister Lena, exerting control over him for her own nefarious ends, while Luthor tries to continue following his own agenda, as tinged as it may be by Lena’s own.

At any rate, we’ll see how these particular plotlines work out over, oh, I don’t know, the next four to eight years.

I’m sorry…

§ November 9th, 2016 § Filed under low content mode Comments Off on I’m sorry…

…I just don’t have it in me today. Be good to yourselves, watch out for each other, and I’ll see you Friday.

There may be some minor spoilers for the two or three of you who didn’t already see this weeks before I got my copy.

§ November 7th, 2016 § Filed under adam west, cartoons § 2 Comments


So I watched the new direct-to-home-video Batman: The Return of the Caped Crusaders animated movie, starring those stalwarts of superhero snazziness Adam (Batman) West and Burt (Robin) Ward, with special guest villainess Julie (Catwoman) Newmar. And…yeah, that was pretty fun. My very mild apprehension re: West’s voice work from the trailer was thankfully not the problem I feared…no, not about the aging of his voice, but rather the way he seemed to play up the humor as opposed to essentially being the straight (Bat)man of the TV show. It wasn’t quite so bad when the entire project was taken as a whole, and it was nice to hear him Batting it up once again. I’ll have to say that Burt Ward’s voice didn’t sound like it aged a day, which was pretty amazing.

Nearly all the stuff you remember from the show is here, and more besides: you kinda/sorta see what happens as Bruce and Dick slide down what appear to be miles-long Bat-poles as their costumes are donned, and the Batmobile’s exit from the Batcave is now long and winding with an array of sliding doors. The ever-present dinosaur from the Batcave of the comics is here as well! The replacement voices for the other featured fiendish foes (Joker, Riddler and Penguin) do well enough, though I imagined briefly what it would have been like to get John Astin, who filled in as the Riddler for Gorshin on the TV show (and is still with us!) to reprise that role. Many of the other ’66 series villains put in brief appearances as well…even Shame is in there, somewhere.

The animation is serviceable, capturing the 1960s look-and-feel, the plot is silly but when were they not, and overall it was a good ol’ time returning to this classic iteration of the Batman. Interestingly, they didn’t go with the TV show’s narration, though someone is doing their best William Dozier impression for the sequences featuring the announcer on a TV show Bruce and Dick are watching. One voice acting moment that was particularly affecting was West’s portrayal of a Batman under the influence of a drug designed to make him…well, evil. Yes, it’s been noted here and there the humor of ’60s Batman quoting Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns in one scene, but overall it was a little uncomfortable hearing Best Batman just being so mean. Kudos to West and the producers for making that bit of business work as well as it did.

I said in that last post that I figured this would be the one-and-only return of West ‘n’ Ward in animated form, but I was wrong. Boy, was I ever wrong. William Shatner as Two-Face is the classic TV crossover I never expected, but now can’t wait to experience. Alas, that we waited too long to get Ricardo Montalbán as animated Batman ’66 Bane.

She ain’t wrong about the Phantom Stranger.

§ November 4th, 2016 § Filed under collecting, gaming, marvel, pal plugging § 5 Comments

So longtime internet pal PTOR reminded me that he did a pretty thorough job a few years back covering that Dr. Strange calendar I featured in Wednesday’s post. He’s an huge Dr. Strange fan — you know, one of those guys! — and I of course recommend that you check out his post about that great old calendar.

And what better day than today, opening day (more or less) for the new Doctor Strange movie, starring that one person and co-starring that other lady! Anyway, word is that it’s pretty good, if very Marvel-formulaic…I saw someone on Twitter (I forget who) say something along the lines of “don’t worry about any spoilers…at this point, what about these films will surprise you?” But if you enjoy Marvel movies, and I generally do, here’s another one to watch.

And with that stirring endorsement, let’s move on to some other topics:

  • Tomorrow, November 5th, will be the second anniversary of the opening of Sterling Silver Comics, my little comic shop that could, located in the heart of Camarillo, CA. I’m still here! I’m still selling comics! They haven’t run me out of town yet! Thanks to all you folks out there for your support, financial, emotional, and otherwise. I’m still growing the business, but things have been going fairly well so far. Not filthy rich yet, but I’m sure that’ll happen at some point in the next four to six months.
  • You may remember my discussion of a recently acquired iPad and my particular strategy vis-à-vis personal back issue collecting. Well, when I went to purchase the recent Boo! anthology (which I’m linking to again because in the first version of this post I stupidly left out the link), I also decided to grab the first issue of Kamandi, which has been a ridiculously giant hole in my Jack Kirby reading for far too long. They had the first couple of dozen issues up there for 99 cents a throw, and with the upcoming Kamandi Challenge being a must-buy (since I adored the previous DC Challenge), I figured it wouldn’t hurt to grab an issue every other week or so. It’s not like I wasn’t familiar with the concept, but “knowing about a Jack Kirby comic” and “having a Jack Kirby comic straight-up just punch you in the face” are two different things. It’s a fun read, as I’m sure most of you know already, and the suicidal despair felt by Kamandi, as he’d rather die and take everyone with him instead of living as a pet in a world of intelligent animals, was a much darker turn than I was expecting. That Kirby fella, he knows how to get your attention. Looks like I’ll be picking more up in the future…and trying very hard not just to buy them all at once.

  • And no, they don’t have the ’60s Metal Men up there yet. That I probably would buy all at once.
  • Another thing I downloaded just last evening was the new DC Legends game. Ah, what the heck, it was free, and I guess Swamp Thing is in it, so hell, why not. I mostly avoid mobile games because I have this terrible fear that I’ll inadvertently make in-app purchases and suddenly I’m in for $500 of, I don’t know, Swamp Thing tuber upgrades and extra power rings. That actually doesn’t appear to be an issue here, though after playing through the introductory screens I’m still not 100% certain what’s going on and what everything means, since I’m old. But some of the animations are pretty neat, and the “cut-scene” dialogue is amusing (“You only show up when we’re all screwed!” Zatanna says to the Phantom Stranger at one point), and it’s fun to touch the screen and watch things explode, in case you’re wondering where my brain is at right about now.

Seriously, I’m thinking about blowing up that Ernie Chan one and putting it up as a poster in the store.

§ November 2nd, 2016 § Filed under marvel § 3 Comments

So I found this diggin’ around through some boxes in the backroom, trying to track something else down:

…the 1980 Occult World of Dr. Strange calendar. Marvel put out several calendars in this format, with a nice piece of full-color art for each month, while the days for each month are filled with art, photos, gags, creator birthdays, and other bits of trivia and silliness:

These old Marvel calendars are great, and I spent a few minutes Tuesday morning whilst waiting for the UPS truck and the weekly funnybook delivery taking a few photos of some of this calendar’s details. For example, I think I laughed out loud at this particular entry from July 27th:


Oh, Jim, someday you will:


I don’t think I noticed the gag in this one ’til I scanned it and blew it up real big. That may be more an indictment of my eyesight than of the calendar’s print job:


As a California native, I wholeheartedly agree with the bow-laden centaur:


This, however, seemed unnecessarily mean-spirited:

And just think, as old as they were then, they’re about 36 years older now! Have some respect for the elderly, Marvel, geez.

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ October 31st, 2016 § Filed under End of Civilization § 10 Comments

Get ready to cast your vote…for the End of Civilization, as represented by this, the November 2016 edition of Diamond Previews. Get out your copy, along with your sample ballots, and follow along, why don’cha. WARNING: contains one (1) reference to a plot development in a 30-year-old DC mini-series, and at least one (1) thing I’m going to get a drive-by “um, actually” over:

p. 59 – Will Eisner The Centennial Celebration 1917-2017:

Sure was nice of them to homage the classic scene from Frank Miller’s The Spirit on the cover:

p. 70 – The Manara Library Volume 1 Indian Summer and Other Stories TP:

Wait ’til you see the full-body portrait of Milo Manara that Frank Cho is providing for the variant!
p. 73 – Game of Thrones Hand of the Queen Pin:

“What will we do with all these leftover Wolverine keychains?”

“Here, let me see ’em.” [snaps off two claws] “There you are.”

p. 76 – Kamandi Challenge #1:

Looking forward to Albert Einstein’s appearance in issue #6 to get the story straightened out and back on track.
p. 115 – Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77 #1:

p. 149 – DCTV Supergirl Action Figure:

Nice of them to include the “Pippi Longstocking” variant head.
p. 230 – A Land Called Tarot HC:

“You have to get our of here! Your land is haunted!”

Hmmm…nope, not quite the same feel, is it?
p. 309 – Belladonna #4 Costume Change 3 Cvr Set:

Well, um…you’re not shy, are you?
p. 311 – Jungle Fantasy Ivory #6 Luscious Variant:

I’m sensing a theme, here.
p. 454 – Tale As Old As Time: The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beast Updated Edition HC:

“As old as time” — or at least as old as the year 1740, when the original “Beauty and the Beast” story was first written and published. ALSO AS OLD AS TIME: pedants like me pointing that out.
p. 456 – Elvira Mistress of the Dark Photo Biography HC:

p. 474 – Batman “Skull Art” Black T-Shirt:

1980s Gotham kids had their own weird variant of the homemade “Suicidal Tendencies” t-shirt, didn’t they.
p. 481 – Watchmen Nite Owl Vinimate Vinyl Figure:

You know, the way the leg joints are done on these things, they might be able to do a nekkid Dr. Manhattan and just claim ignorance. “No, that’s not supposed to look like…you know, that’s just where the legs connect! We swear!”
p. 486 – Batman Classic TV Series Batphone Vinyl Bank:

No joke (other than having an actual bat-shaped phone might have raised questions in the Wayne household), but let’s just enjoy Alfred answering the actual non-bat-shaped batphone from the show:

EDIT: I’ve been informed that this is the phone from the Batmobile, which still seems wildly impractical. You know, as opposed to all the practical stuff from the Batman TV show.
p. 492 – Aliens Fossilized Space Jockey Foam Replica:

Not included: the vague disappointment upon finding out in Prometheus that this guy was probably just a big ol’ human-looking fella.
p. 492 – Predator Accessory Pack:

Also may be used to liven up the Barbie Dreamhouse. “What secret is Skipper keeping in her private room?”
p. 504 – Pop! The Walking Dead Vinyl Figure – Carl (Zombie Guts):

So eventually they’re going to do the “Carl (Shot in the Face)” variant, but will they just do the bandage over the eye, or will they just bore a hole right through one of those black shiny orbs?
p. 532 – Child Play’s Chucky Bishoujo Statue:

Why, this is the second-sexiest version of Chucky that I’ve ever seen.
p. 544 – The Bonsai 1 Plastic Model Kit:

“A 1/12 scale model of a bonsai tree. Well, sure, why not…even I can’t screw this up.”

[10 hours later, glue and plastic pieces everywhere]

p. 564 – Namco Arcade Machine Collection:

I’m ashamed to admit how long I looked into these things trying to find out if they were working mini-replicas. (I’m still not sure.)
p. 568 – DC Heroes “For Darkseid” Decal:

This is a great accompaniment to the New Gods line of “family sticker” window decals, with silhouetted images of Orion, Kalibak, Highfather…um, this sounded funnier in my head. A sticker featuring the outline of Metron in his chair just by himself in the rear window of a station wagon is still a good gag, right? …Right?
p. 575 – Suicide Squad Lapel Pin Sets:

“I’d like to buy the Ghost Rider pin, please.”

“But that’s not….”

“Boy, I sure do love Ghost Rider. Here, please take my money.”

“…Okay, thanks for shopping.”
Marvel Previews p. 5 – Monsters Unleashed #1 Teaser Variant Cover by Geof Darrow:


1. Have this playing along while you read this comic:

2. At long last, Marvel has finally adapted Bambi Meets Godzilla:

Marvel Previews p. 39 – Amazing Spider-Man #23:

“Peter, seriously, do you ever trim your nose hair?”

Your mom was probably a woman.

§ October 28th, 2016 § Filed under pal plugging, this week's comics § No Comments

I intended to have more of this week’s comics read for an end-of-week reviews post, but I’ve only managed to read a couple from this week’s rather sizable haul. Part of the reason is that I’ve been distracted by this massive tome that details Atari’s artistic history, from the covers of the Atari 2600 game cartridge boxes, to ad campaigns, to designs of their arcade cabinets. Not just pretty pictures, but also includes a history of the company and commentary from the artists. For a guy like me, who still thinks of the original Nintendo system as “that newfangled video gaming machine,” and still has his original, working Atari hooked up to the big ol’ widescreen, this hits pretty much all my nostalgia triggers.

Just so there is at least a tangential relation to comics, the various Superman games are briefly covered. For you longtime ProgRuin readers, you may remember the 2600 Superman was used for the image on my 404 “file not found” page:


I did manage to read a few comics…Flash #9 pushes ahead the whole “Watchmen? In the DC Universe? WHA–!?” metaplot by an inch or two; Swamp Thing is still in The Hellblazer as of issue #3, which also brings back another character from the title’s Vertigo days; and then there’s this comic:

…which still remains fresh and entertaining with each issue. This is a solid done-in-one story in case you wanted to sample the book, in which the Surfer and his pal Dawn get stuck on a gambling planet and have to bet their way to freedom. It’s a lot of fun, and is topped off by a great cover gag:


One other comic I read was the digital-only release of the new BOO! Halloween Stories anthology:


…available right here from Comixology. A bunch of my pals are involved, including Ken Lowery, Matt Digges, Andrew Weiss, Dave Lartigue, Joe Hunter, Dan Butler (who drew my Twitter icon!), Andrew Ihla, Dylan Todd, Josh Krach, Matthew Allen Smith, Pete Toms, and some other folks I haven’t really interacted with but are swell creators anyway. C’mon, it’s only $2…it’s really good, I promise.

• • •

Speaking of money, here are a couple of worthy and/or interesting causes you may consider contributing to:

First, Matt Brady, proprietor of the “Warren-Peace Sings the Blues” comics blog that I’ve linked to a few times, is currently seeking some assistance paying legal fees for a difficult divorce proceeding that’s already drained many of his resources. If you can spare a little, please help him out.

Second, not that this particular endeavor needs my help given the coverage it’s received, but there’s a Kickstarter for a game based on the infamous and voluminous works of Chuck Tingle. If you know who that is, well, you can guess the link is perhaps just slightly Not Safe for Work, if your job can’t handle the idea of butts and what may or may not be done to them. The primary reason I’m linking to it is that one of the game’s writers is pal Karla Pacheco, she of Inspector Pancakes fame, and frankly I can think of no better match for a project of this majesty. The other reason I’m linking is that the write-up on that Kickstarter page is hilarious. Even the dollar amount the Kickstarter is seeking is hilarious. Chuck Tingle, this world hardly deserves you.

• • •

One final note, given what’s happened in the comics industry this week: certain dudes out there, stop being jerks to women. C’mon, nobody needs this.

I did it for the Chicks, man.

§ October 26th, 2016 § Filed under obituary, pal plugging, self-promotion § 7 Comments

hitherechickSo, about Jack Chick. On one hand, he seemed to be an always-present part of the weirdo comics landscape …his little religious funnybook pamphlets were just some strange thing we’d come across once in a while, in a variety of circumstances. I’d get them with Halloween candy as a kid. I’d see ’em at the local church neighbors attended. A neighbor of another friend “witnessing” to me (at me?) would press one into my hands. Some years back, my old high school friend and former coworker Rob would actively collect them, and a couple of his spares he’d pass along to me.

Nobody I knew took them very seriously. Well, maybe that one friend’s neighbor. But they were all amusing in some dark fashion…little morality tales of horror and death, all footnoted with Bible verses, where “bad” people were punished for doing shitty things to their fellow humans, and for not accepting the tenets of Chick’s particular interpretation of Christianity. That one booklet about the dangers of role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons is a highlight, much parodied and mocked over the years.

Some of the images still stick with me…the “lake of fire” that I’m pretty sure was used and reused in many of Chick’s comics. The construction worker trapped in hell, wondering if he’d get to see his friends again, and being told he’d be alone forever. The dead fella being forced to watch all the sins he committed in life, aghast that he’d have to watch himself tell the filthiest joke. “No, not that joke, not here!” Usually the comics were crudely arranged and drawn, but there was that occasional moment of frisson achieved, sometimes more by accident than by design, but still there.

On the other hand, beyond the amusement value, mixed in with the sporadic positive religious message, were messages that were anti-gay, anti-science, anti-Catholic, anti-anything Jack Chick personally didn’t care for. That undermines the pop-culture jocularity a bit. True, these were in the usual ham-fisted style and thus hard to treat seriously at face value (though I know some folks did), but it still revealed the ugly undercurrent of ignorance. Even saying that would make me one of those sinners in these comics, shouting and sweating and exclaiming my bad points of view, while the even-tempered hero calmly explains why I’m wrong and surely going to hell.

Still, I felt that I should note Jack Chick’s passing. Something…unique, shall we say, has gone from the comics world, what could be described as an odd sort of “outsider” art aside from the fact that Chick’s tracts are probably some of the most widely-read pieces of the comics artform ever.

• • •

In other news: pal Tim, who wrote this lengthy essay that you should read if you haven’t already, has published his follow-up which I think you should read as well. Tim’s gettin’ back into the old blogging game somethin’ fierce, and if you’d like to help him out, he’s got one of those Patreons that you can throw some simoleons at if you’ve got a couple to spare.

I’ll be contributing myself in the next couple of weeks, as soon as I get through a month with the quarterly sales tax payment, car stuff, plus other big expenses, and by total coincidence here’s a link to my own Patreon.

That time Steve Dillon drew Swamp Thing growing some…herbiage for John Constantine’s 40th birthday party.

§ October 24th, 2016 § Filed under obituary, swamp thing § 2 Comments

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Steve Dillon, artist of Punisher and Hellblazer, as well as the co-creator of Preacher, passed away over the weekend at the much-too-young age of 54. I’m sure I’d come across his work before this, but it was his run on Hellblazer (with writer Garth Ennis) that I really began to notice and appreciate his work. As I said on my post about his passing on the store site (where I scanned and posted a Preacher sequence that I particularly like), he had a very clean, uncomplicated style that managed to convey huge amounts of detail and wide ranges of emotion. In a way, his style reminds me a bit of Jaime Hernandez’s, particularly in his later work (as opposed to that slightly rougher-edged, but still wonderfully expressive, artwork on view in those panels above).

He was a wonderful artist, and judging by some of the tributes I’ve seen on Twitter, he seemed to be a pretty darn good guy as well. I mean, look at this swell Scarecrow he drew for a little kid.

My most sincere condolences to his family, friends and fans. So long, Steve.

image from Hellblazer #63 (March 1993)

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