PANTS STATUS: UNKNOWN.

§ May 17th, 2017 § Filed under swamp thing, this week's comics, watchmen § 1 Comment

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

I’ve had this ongoing fascination with the many ways Watchmen has been exploited by parties aside from the original creators. I mean, there were the wristwatches, the role playing game supplements, the Heroclix miniatures, these weird-ass shirts, the pseudo-crossover with The Question, the video games, the toaster, and I understand there was a movie at some point, too. Of course, the majority of it was all toys and tchotchkes and whatnot, and not actual comics, God no. Who could imagine Watchmen comics not by Moore and Gibbons? You’d have to be crazy to do something like…oh wait.

I had thought for sure the next step past Before Watchmen was going to be After Watchmen, the continuing adventures of Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, and Ozymandias, and Dr. Manhattan, and maybe Seymour. And in a way, that’s what we sort of got, once the whole “DC Rebirth” thing kicked off with a special one-shot that explicitly referenced Watchmen that tied it into the current DC Universe.

Anyway (did I mention SPOILERS because here they come) I was as at least somewhat correct in my suspicions that any actual on-page appearances of Watchmen characters in this whole “The Button” storyline would be very limited, saving it, apparently, for the just announced Doomsday Clock series coming this fall (and given a big ol’ two-page ad in the back of Flash #22 — or a four-page ad if you count the button-to-S-shield sequence, or even a forty-page ad, if you count this whole “Button” storyline). Despite the arguments that can be made for the whole…misguidedness, perhaps, of the situation, I can’t deny there was a weird sort of frisson seeing even just the brief glimpse of that specific character at the conclusion, our first physical appearance of someone from Watchmen in the DC Universe “Rebirth” narrative. Well, unless Mr. Oz turns out to be anything other than a red herring. (Personally, I think he’s Bubastis.)

I do like the general conceit of the Watchmen tie-in to the DCU, in having the “New 52” reboot actually being an attack on DC’s regular continuity by outside forces (i.e. a certain big blue presumably still naked guy). And that’s all “The Button” was really about, letting our heroes know that their universe is screwed up and that some immense power outside their universe was responsible…and also letting the characters and we readers know what’s at stake…that there’s still so much of their old pre-reboot universe that’s still fighting to come back. I do anticipate the eventual in-story explanation they’re going to have for why any of this was happening in the first place, why the character would do what he apparently did, and so on. The real world explanation, of course, is that clinking, clanking sound that makes said world go ’round.


Oh, and Swamp Thing is guest-starring in Batman this week. There’s a very nicely done two-page spread in this issue, which you should point your peepers at. Usually I wince at that much square-footage being used for so little in the limited amount of space any given comic book has, but I’m going to let it pass. This time.

Maybe Dr. Manhattan can work on the Marvel Universe next.

§ May 15th, 2017 § Filed under free comic book day, publishing, watchmen § 1 Comment

Well, all I can figure is that Free Comic Book day took a lot out of me, as I didn’t really have the energy during the past week to generate that award-winning [NOTE: not actually award-winning] Progressive Ruin content the entire comics industry depends on [NOTE: nobody depends on it]. But I’m well-rested [NOTE: mostly] and in fighting trim [NOTE: nothing about Mike is trim] so let’s see what trouble we can stir up today:

I had a couple of comments in response to my FCBD post-mortem I wanted to address. First, Dave Carter of Earth points out, in response to customers (and me) wanting a Sonic the Hedgehog freebie this year:

“Archie appears to have lost the Sonic license, or at least they aren’t publishing any Sonic comics any more.”

Well, by cracky, that appears to be the case, doesn’t it? I guess I hadn’t really noticed…when you’re slogging through 500 pages of Diamond Previews, it’s easy to overlook the fact that maybe something that should be there isn’t. And, a quick check at the distributor’s website shows nada forthcoming from Archie Comics involving any sort of spiny mammal content. I did a quick buzz about the Internets and saw a lot of discussion on the topic, so I guess I’m just not looking in the right spots to have had this particular bit of information at my fingertips. It’d be a shame if the Sonic comic book franchise did vanish from the stands…especially since Archie still has that prime grocery store placement.

Dean wonders

“Mike, as a retailer, what’s your opinion of Marvel’s HYDRA FCBD promotion?”

Hoo boy. The Secret Empire event comic is the wagon Marvel is hitching all its chickens to for the next several months, so of course Marvel is going to want one of their FCBD comics to be a plug for it, like their Civil War 2 freebie was last year. Now, by and large, a lot were given away, and a handful of conversations I overheard seem to be at least intrigued by the concept — “whoa, Captain America is a bad guy!?” It’s yet another “how does our hero get out of this one?” story, designed to unfold over the next several months and keep readers in suspense. No one really thinks Cap is going to stay a bad guy, and that everything will be fixed. How it will be fixed is naturally the hook for the event.

But.

I suspect a number of people are coming into this fresh, and haven’t encountered the online brouhaha and the somewhat controversial “Hydra makeover” promotion and the whole “so is Hydra the same thing as Nazis or what?” debate. Without all that baggage, this one-shot could have been fine as a come-on for Marvel’s big event. A bit overwrought, maybe, but what superhero crossover event isn’t, really. However, that baggage does exist and there’s a tone-deafness in the responses to the online anger regarding this series, its promotion, its timing, and the defense of it by those involved. Basically, it’s turned into a huge mess and a public relations issue for Marvel, to the point where they had to put out a press release to tell fans “look, Cap’s gonna be fine, we promise.”

That’s a lotta typing around Dean’s question, so let me see if I can narrow it down a bit. For folks coming into the “Secret Empire” event fresh, the FCBD giveaway may be have been an intriguing introduction to the event. For folks who are more aware of the historical context and of the current reaction to said event, the FCBD book was probably just digging that hole a little deeper.

Personally, I feel like this is a bit like the Spider-Man Clone Saga from the ’90s. If they told the story, were in and out and done in, like, six months, it would have been fine. But dragging it out like this, particularly in the face of increasing consumer rejection, isn’t doing the company any favors. The Clone Saga almost killed the Spider-Man franchise, leading to a more-or-less still ongoing series of relaunches and reboots. Not that Marvel’s been shy about relaunching/rebooting any of their titles lately, but I suspect Cap may need some serious refurbishing after this to get readership back.

On the other hand, Secret Empire sales in the shop have been ticking upward in the last week or so, so what do I know.

• • •

In happier news:

…I hope this never, ever stops.

This turned out to be a Low Content Mode week.

§ May 12th, 2017 § Filed under low content mode § No Comments

Sorry about that. I do plan on addressing some of your questions/comments in response to my Free Comic Book Day After post, as well as getting back to your questions from way back when. Oh, and the whole Swamp-Thing-a-Thon for Patreon supporters will be starting up right quick as well.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and I’ll be back on Monday with a real post, after hopefully much sleep.

And now, Archie dressed as pretty much every dude who’s ever appeared on “The Voice.”

§ May 11th, 2017 § Filed under archie § 4 Comments


 
 

from Archie #299 (December 1980) – art by Dan DeCarlo

A few pieces about Free Comic Book Day.

§ May 8th, 2017 § Filed under free comic book day § 5 Comments


And that was your 16th annual Free Comic Book Day, completed this past weekend at your local funnybook emporium. If you’re a fan, hopefully you had fun at your shop and got the comics you wanted. If you’re a retailer, hopefully you had plenty of happy folks come through your doors.

Not much to report from my end, aside from a nice increase in business over the previous year, making this once again a huge success, not just in terms of profitability, but in getting lots of free comics into the hands of an enormous amount of people. Didn’t have a special guest this time, but that didn’t seem to quell the crowds. We had a full house from the get-go, and I could barely turn away from the register for more than a moment for at least the first couple of hours. I only managed to snap a couple of photos this time around, and only after the initial rush slowed just slightly, which you can see on the store site.

Other notes/observations:

  • Saw lots of little boys and girls picking out comics, including one four-year-old girl who told me her favorite character was Swamp Thing and thereby became Sterling Silver Comics’ #1 Customer.
  • Had a couple of folks visiting from out of town thank me for not putting a limit on the number of different comics they could take. Longtime readers know that I prefer no restrictions, though I have learned to be sympathetic to stores that place limits if, like for financial reasons, they don’t have a lot to go around. But these folks told me their store only allowed two FCBD books per person, and, hoo boy. That’s not “Free Comic Book Day comics are free with purchase” wrong, but man, that seems awfully stingy. I mean, who knows what that store’s particular situation was, but if things were that tight, I’m surprised they participated at all.
  • Related is the fact that despite the fact that I had no limits, the nightmare scenario that I’ve had thrown in my face in the past by people objecting to this particular policy did not come to pass, and all my FCBD comics didn’t disappear into the hands of the first customers through the door. Yes, some people did take one of each, and that’s totally fine, but a lot more people were a little more selective this year versus previous years. Many voluntarily took only two or three comics, despite constant reassurance that yes, you could take whatever you wanted. Despite having more people come into the shop for this year’s FCBD (and more people spending money!) the actual free comic stock didn’t diminish quite as quickly.
  • The most popular books for me this year were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spongebob and Rick and Morty. There were many requests for a Sonic the Hedgehog freebie, and perhaps Archie should have gone for one of those again this year, given the somewhat lackadaisical performance of their Betty and Veronica and (surprisingly) Riverdale comics this time around. The Marvel/DC titles did fine, with Guardians of the Galaxy being the big winner, which should come as no surprise given the timing. (Also sold a bunch of the regular GOTG issues, from all dozen or so current series, off the new comics rack.)
  • Saw a few faces I hadn’t seen in a while (“Hey, didn’t you manage Ralph’s Comic Corner?” I heard a couple of times).
  • No real problems this time. One person did try to hold up the line at the register a bit by asking me about pricing and grading his old comics, and, uh, yeah, maybe right now isn’t the time for that?
  • Nothing to do really with FCBD, but I did open up a coin roll for the register at one point, and it was filled entirely with Bicentennial quarters. I took that as a good omen.
  • It was a tad rainy that morning, which I thought would curtail my usual FCBD plans for having a table of bargain comic boxes in front of the store for perusal. Thankfully, rain wasn’t a problem…though it did get pretty darn windy later in the day.
  • Alas, Batman only made a cameo appearance this year (as opposed to last year). He was clearly in stealth mode, since I didn’t even notice him come in…I just looked up and there he was!
  • The one downside for a having a big in-store sale on FCBD…having to restock everything. Not that my shelves are bare or anything, and some things I’m glad to see the tail end of, but the racks are a tad bit leaner than what I prefer.
  • Despite not having discounts on toys, I did seem to move a few…especially the Funko Pops which are still going strong after all this time. Amazing the lifespan these Funkos seem to have.

So, Free Comic Book Day…it’s done, it paid for itself, and now everything’s back to normal until…what’s next? Wonder Woman Day? I think that’s right. Had some people ask “why don’t they do FCBD every month?” and I believe my answer to them was “because it would kill me.” But once a year is enough, because I’ll forget how much work it is by the time the next batch of free books pop up in Previews. Anyway, thanks to my girlfriend Nora, my dad, and pal Dorian for helping out, and thanks to everyone who came into the shop…and to all of you for reading all this. Let’s do it all again next year!

Free to be…comics and me.

§ May 5th, 2017 § Filed under free comic book day, pal plugging § No Comments


So this will be the 16th year of the industry-wide Free Comic Book Day event, and I’ve participated givin’ away all those free funnybooks each and every time. It’s hard to imagine I’ve been doing this for just over half the time I’ve been working in comics retail, but time flies when you’re having fun, I suppose. It’s even harder to imagine that this year will be the third time I’ve hosted FCBD at my own shop. (You can see how it went the last couple of times, if you’re interested.)

I’ve talked about the event a whole lotta times in the past, and I don’t really have much to say beyond what I’ve already said. I’ll set up the tables, put out all the comics, let folks take what they want (I mean, don’t grab the entire stack of a certain comic or anything, but help yourself to one of each if you’d like), set up the special in-store deals that help pay for everything, and let those comic book hijinks ensue. Anyhoo, this post from last year goes into a little more detail re: the hows, the whys, and the wherefores if you’re curious. And if you’re still curious, you can feel free to ask me whatever you’d like in the comments here. I don’t mind!

Plus, if you’re wondering, yes, I did talk pal Dorian into doing his Free Comic Book Day reviews again this year, though he says he’s just going to focus on recommending what he thinks are the better releases, and not spend time slamming the stinkers. That specific post isn’t live yet, so just keep refreshing postmodernbarney.com over and over again ’til the reviews appear very early Saturday morning. EDIT: They’re up!

I’m sure I’ll report back here on Monday about how things went. Every single year, I get the jitters about things not going well, nobody showing up, me still stuck with carton upon carton of leftover freebies…and every year I discover my fears are unfounded as nice, sizable crowds fill my store and happily gather their free goodies. Let’s hope the same thing happens again this year! And you, reading this…if you’re in the area, come by and see us! Me, my girlfriend Nora, my dad, the aforementioned pal Dorian, and the possibly-returning Batman will be glad to see you!

• • •

In other news:

  • Pal Andrew celebrates the 11th anniversary of his site, Armagideon-Time. He’s one of the best writers, and one of the smartest minds, that we’ve got in our virtual neck of the woods here, and you should do yourself a favor and follow his work, if you don’t already.
  • Ken Lowery of Fake AP Stylebook fame — and with whom I helped write a book— has written a brand new comic book available on Comixology: The Night Driver, illustrated by Gavin Guidry. G’wan, get a copy…it’s only $1.99. That’s almost free!
  • Blogging sister Tegan presents…the Last Star Wars Essay. It’s good. Really good.
  • A reminder: Bully, the Little Bull Stuffed with Electric Current, is still offering up 365 Days of Resistance.

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ May 3rd, 2017 § Filed under End of Civilization § 4 Comments

Pull yourself together, man! Can’t you see we have a whole new End of Civilization to get through? Pick up your May 2017 edition of Diamond Previews and follow me…into glory:

p. 154 – TMNT/Usagi Yojimbo:


Finally, the long-awaited follow-up on the evolution vs. creation discussion from Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 2 #2:


At last this debate will finally be resolved.
 
 
p. 183 – Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories:


The shocking follow-up to this terrifying tale.
 
 
p. 208 – Mage The Hero Denied #0:


It was 11 years between The Hero Discovered and The Hero Defined, and it’s been almost 20 years since the end of that second series and the beginning of this new one. Man, it’s going to be like forty years between the end of The Hero Denied and the 2058 debut of The Hero Disco-Dances. Guess I’d better eat healthy if I’m going to be around for that one.
 
 
p. 242-3 – The Walking Dead Lucille Ballpoint Pen / Glenn Legacy Edition Action Figure

Oddly, not a gift set.
 
 
p. 283 – The Tremendous Trump:


Just trying to picture the kinds of comics we would have had with Hillary or Bernie, and, well, silver linings and all that.
 
 
p. 336-7 – Centipede #1:


Not looking forward to the eventual Custer’s Revenge comic. However, I totally call dibs on writing the Haunted House one.
 
 
p. 349 – Gwar Orgasmageddon #2:


The ultra-rare variant is of course the version where you open up the cover and you’re immediately sprayed head-to-toe with…well, let’s say “blood,” if you’re lucky.
 
 
p. 359 – No Panties, No Problem 1:


“Why, that was my high school’s prom the–”

“Mike.”

“That was on the sign we had by the door at my old jo–”

Mike.

 
 
p. 441 – Magical Dance Vol. 2:


“Good gravy, Pooh! That’s not honey! You’re eating CROSS GENRE PROPERTY EXPLOITATION”

“oh bother”
 
 
p. 471 – Black Flag #1:


Rise above my war, as the thirsty and miserable overcome their depression and life of pain with a six pack and a tv party over three nights. Jealous again?
 
 
p. 479 – Awesome Activities for Super Heroes SC:


“Batman, the Joker’s escaped again! You must come quickly!”

“I can’t right now, Commissioner, I’m…um, in the middle of something.”

“…You’re doodling again, aren’t you?”

“…NO.”
 
 
p. 479 – Batman & Robin Adventures: Catwoman’s Purrfect Plot TP:


“So, darrrrling, do you know what…comes after the ‘rising action?'”

“Holy literary innuendo!”
 
 
p. 480 – DC Super Girls Katana at Super Hero High SC:


Sadly, Katana was expelled immediately for bringing a weapon on campus, and is currently facing charges.
 
 
p. 486 – 100 Things Game of Thrones Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die SC:


“#48: Die like a Games of Thrones character.”

GOT FAN: “Uh…what?”
 
 
p. 583 – Toy Box Sofubi 013: Humpback Whale Soft Vinyl Figure:


Finally, my Star Trek IV action figure set is complete. Well, once I buy two of these, anyway.
 
 
p. 623 – Nintendo Mario and Toshi Adult Inflatable Costume:


“Itsa me! A fetish for someone!”
 
 
p. 627 – Pac-Man Chocolate Cream Sticks:


Just like the Chocolate Cream Sticks Pac-Man eats in the g–what? No, not the dots. They’re, like, one of the bonus fruits that appear, right? …Look, just eat the cream sticks. They’re tasty.
 
 
p. 635 – The Terminator The Official Board Game:


“OH NO I HAF FALLEN DOWN A CHOOOOT, I MUST GET TO THE LAD-DUH”

Look, just say it really loud. It’s hilarious.
 
 
p. 636 – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Monopoly:


Groot to jail. Groot directly to…no, huh? Look, they can’t all be winners.
 
 
p. 636 – Pirates of the Caribbean Ultimate Monopoly:


You know, Pirates of the Caribbean Monopoly was fun the first couple of times, but by the, oh, fifth go-round, it kinda wears out its welcome.
 
 
p. 636 – Pirates of the Caribbean Battleship:


“So let’s parley, savvy? Savvy the ol’ parley, do we? Then parley we shall, savvy!”

“Look, I’m sinking my own battleship. I’m dead ‘n’ gone. I’M OUT”

Today’s Progressive Ruin will be performed by the following:

§ May 1st, 2017 § Filed under archie § 6 Comments


Having a little back trouble at the moment, so less writin’, more scannin’, such as the above from Reggie and Me #56 (July 1972). Was going to just post that, since there’s a lot to unpack here (I mean, that’s at least two poop jokes in Betty’s entry) but I couldn’t leave you without showing you The Ringoe Kid in all his glory:


Oh my goodness gracious.

Just your average Halloween post in April.

§ April 28th, 2017 § Filed under advertising, halloween, swamp thing § 3 Comments


SPOILER: Super Friends #28 only sort of features Swamp Thing (and those other characters) as they were in fact party-goers changed by magic into the beings they were dressed as. Anyway, that was one brave dude who thought dressing as the Demon, an actual creature begat from the sulfurous pits of Hell, at least in the DC Universe in which they both live, was a good idea. Okay, maybe it wasn’t exactly public knowledge that the Demon was really from hell, but honestly, anyone actually living in the nightmare world that surely any superhero-filled reality would be should know better.
 
 

house ad from DC Comics cover-dated January 1980 – so it was probably out the September previous…you know how it goes

Of reprints and Patreons.

§ April 26th, 2017 § Filed under dc comics, legion of super-heroes, publishing, self-promotion § 6 Comments

So a while back on the Twitterers I complained that a joke I had planned for an End of Civilization post was undone by the fact the publisher actually didn’t mess up something I thought they had messed up. I’ve been meaning to get around to telling the one or two of you who might remember that and still care just what I was talking about. And what I was talking about was the Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes hardcover volume one, as solicited in the March 2017 Diamond Previews:


That’s the image they’re using to solicit the collection, but obviously not the actual, final cover since that’s a pic of the Legion treasury edition the book will be including.

Anyway, my assumption is that there were going to be some issues skipped between the last of the DC Archives reprintings of the Legion of Super-Heroes and this volume, which picks up in the 1970s. However, to my surprise, this new book picks up exactly where the Archive editions left off, so for those of us depending on DC’s reprint program to gather up all those classic Legion stories in chronological order, like I know I was, that’s good news. Of course, this new format won’t have as many stories per volume, but also it won’t be $75 like that Archives generally were near the end there, so at least there’s that.

Like I mentioned, the treasury edition, featuring the wedding of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad (hey, stop snickering, this is a big deal) is in this book, and I was greatly anticipating its appearance in the never-forthcoming Legion Archives Volume 14. At some point, around, I don’t know, 2008, I even passed up on a copy of the treasury because I figured I would eventually get that story in the archive series. Well, took a little longer than expected, but it’s finally on its way. Hopefully. Assuming it isn’t cancelled or postponed.

Now if we can get DC to pick up reprinting Sugar and Spike where that last archive edition left off….

• • •

And now, for a brief commercial message…as mentioned just the other day, plans are continuing apace for the Swamp Thing-a-Thon, my attempt at reviewing every Swamp Thing comic, that will be an exclusive, at least for a time, for Patreon supporters. I finally updated my Patreon page to include that reward tier in the sidebar.

Since I have the reward tier set at the lowest level (I mean, I don’t think you can contribute less than a dollar a month, can you?), anyone who supports my Patreon at any level will get access to the Swamp Thing-a-Thon posts. If you’re already a supporter, you’ll get access. If you click the “Become a Patreon” button and donate that generous $150 a month I know you want to, you’ll get access. You don’t have to click on that $1 Reward button to get access, that just makes it easier for you to chip in. If you’re contributing at all, you’re in.

Like I’ve said…the content there will make it over to this site eventually, but not for a while. If you can provide support, that’s great, but if you can’t or don’t want to, that’s perfectly okay too, and you’ll get to see that stuff anyway, if you don’t mind waiting a bit.

Thanks to you folks out there who still read this “comics” “blog” after all this time. I appreciate all the support and readership you’ve given me for so many years.

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