Any reason at all to talk about Land of the Lost.

§ April 11th, 2018 § Filed under publishing § 7 Comments

So on the Twitters the other day I lamented the fact that there never has been a comic book based on the classic ’70s Saturday morning show Land of the Lost. I did mention that a Land of the Lost comic was at one point solicited in the Diamond Previews catalog in April 2009, featuring this solicitation text:

“Rick Marshall, his son Will, and younger daughter Holly are trapped in an alien world inhabited by dinosaurs, monkey-people called Pakuni, and aggressive, humanoid/lizard creatures called Sleestak. The family’s struggle to survive and find a way back to their own world continues in this comic book series. Land of the Lost is also a $100 million budget film starring Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel coming from Universal Studios on June 5th!”

I had mentioned in my Twitter thread that, based on the solicit, I wasn’t sure if the comic would be based on the TV show or the Ferrell vehicle, until it was correctly pointed out that the familial relationship in the TV show and described in the solicit is not present in the film, so it appears the comic would have been based on the original version. I mean, one could hardly blame me for forgetting the details of that mostly execrable movie. Anyway, this was the image accompanying said solicitation: it seemed like it was a safe bet this would have been the TV show version of the concept.

Now, it never did come out…Diamond has it marked as “CANCELLED” in big red letters, and why exactly it was canned I’m not entirely sure. I’ve always assumed it was because the Big Budget Movie whose coattails the comic’s publishers had hoped to ride, based on that solicitation text, turned out to be a bust. Or maybe it was more complex behind-the-scenes licensing shenanigans, or creative issues, or…I haven’t a clue.

But it’s a shame…I’d still love to see a Land of the Lost comic of some kind. The Ferrell movie seems mostly forgotten by now, so a new comic book series wouldn’t have that particular shadow cast over it, I’d think. And there was enough weird world-building elements and hints in at least the first couple of seasons of the TV show that I would love to see some of the original writers for the program participate in this proposed comic book series and maybe put some of those pieces together. Um, y’know, while they’re…uh, still around.

Now to the other thing I wanted to discuss, which was inspired by Twitter pal J.R. Jenks very wisely pointing out “But how would the banjo music translate to the page? That series had great banjo.” Yes indeed it did (and you can look here for all the Land of the Lost banjo discussion you could ever use), and my immediate and somewhat facetious response was “sound chip, like greeting cards.”

And you know what? Why wadn’t there ever a comic book with a sound ship? You open the cover of, say, Justice League International, and there’s Blue Beetle doing the “BWA-HA-HA!” laugh. Or open a Shazam! comic to a crack of thunder. Or…well, there’s plenty of possibilities. Now, as a retailer, I would eventually be driven to murder after listening to these repeatedly play several hours each day, but “practicality” and “the sanity of comic shop owners” rarely enter the discussion when planning gimmicks like these. However, to the best of my knowledge, even during the 1990s cover gimmick heyday, the comic book sound ship threshold was never breached. If someone knows differently, I’d like to hear about it. There are probably production and cost reasons it didn’t happen, I’m sure, but I’m still a little surprised. Plus, those batteries don’t last forever…I’ve got a Star Wars sound-chipped birthday card which plays a very sadly worn-down and depressing rendition of the theme at this point.

I know relatively recently we’ve had the “talking comics” from the current iteration of Valiant, where you’d hold your smartphone in front of a character’s face on the cover, and software internet magic would happen the character would “talk,” but that’s not exactly what I’m talking about.

So basically what I’m asking for here is a new, ongoing Land of the Lost comic which has an embedded sound chip that gives you either banjo music, Grumpy’s roar, or a Sleestak hiss whenever you open the cover. So long as it’s not this terrible, terrible sound from the show that’s always creeped me out.

Things to Do in Southern California When Your Power is Out.

§ April 9th, 2018 § Filed under fantastic four, retailing § 4 Comments

Yup, came to work Sunday morning only to discover there was no power coming into my business. Now, for me, that’s not as big of a deal as it could be, since I can still sell comics and make change out of the register and such, so long as things are reasonably visible inside the building and, you know, they could pay cash and not by credit card. Several of my neighbors, what have to prepare food for their clientele, were not so lucky…particularly the Chinese restaurant just next door that was expecting a party of about 50 people. Oof.

Anyway, stuck it out as long as I could, but alas, the shadows encroached too far and it was time to depart. And looking at the parking lot when I left, I was one of the last holdouts. Ah, well, power should be reinstated by 11 PM this evening (as I type this, it’s about 5 PM), so we’ll see what happens.

• • •

So it was announced that the Fantastic Four comic book is coming back, and whether absence has made the heart grow Fantastic-er and people will go for it this time. I would certainly hope so…I would like to read a Fantastic Four comic again, and I’ve had a little feedback from customers along these lines as well. The current Marvel Two-in-One series, featuring the FF’s Thing and Human Torch (and also will continue alongside the new Fantastic Four series), has been doing quite well, particularly for a recent Marvel series launch, which tells me there’s at least some demand for half of the FF, at any rate.

A couple of years back, I wrote a bit about a feasibility of a new FF comic, and about the line one must straddle between “doing new things with the FF which make them feel NOT like the FF” and “oh there’s Dr. Doom and Galactus again.” It’s a weird running-in-place that, to some extent, all mainstream superhero comic have to do…”the illusion of change,” as has been said, and when they do BIG changes, like marrying Spider-Man and Mary Jane, or giving Superman a son, it’s an even bigger to-do to get things changed back, a constant stuffing of worms into their cans.

Not that the Fantastic Four really did go through any kind of big change like this…it felt more like they just kinda wore out their welcome, that nothing was really grabbing folks, so it was time to shuffle them off the board for a while. Now why them specifically and not, say, the Avengers, which could also have used a little time off (aside from the whole movie thing), given that many of Marvel’s longstanding properties could use a bit of rebuffing. One clever way of doing so was “retiring” characters without necessarily retiring them, such as having new people take over as the title character (as in the recent Thor comics) to rebuild interest in a property that had sort of felt a little moribund.

They couldn’t do this with the Fantastic Four, really…the FF is specifically Those Four People, and occasional rejiggerings of said Four usually just serve to remind people, oh, hey, why isn’t, oh, Mr. Fantastic around? (The one possible exception to this was, outside the deliberately-gimmicky “New Fantastic Four” with Ghost Ride an’ such, was She-Hulk’s inclusion on the team.) My idea in that old post I linked was what would have basically been a Thing solo series, with the rest of the FF as back-up characters…maintaining the team dynamic, but making one character the focus and giving at least what would feel like a different perspective on the group. This is sort of what we got in the new Marvel Two-in-One series, with the Thing and Human Torch supposedly seeking the other lost half of their family…it’s a new take on the FF that doesn’t have the “Fantastic Four” logo on the cover and thus doesn’t feel burdened with the expectations that title brings.

That’s a long way of saying “the creative team on this new Fantastic Four have their work cut out for them.” I want it to be good, and I have no reason to think it won’t be. Now will it do well, that’s harder to say. The comics market is still a bit unstable, and new titles, even with long-established characters, are struggling to survive. I’d like to think a comic starring the Fantastic Four, as quote-unquote “Marvel’s First Family,” would be above such economic concerns, that they would always have a starring role with the publisher, but sad to say the world doesn’t work like that. I really do hope for the best here…I’d love a good Fantastic Four book on the stands again. We’ll just have to see how everything shakes out.

And yeah, I know, it’ll have a big ol’ “#1!” on the cover. What should the actual issue number be now? It’s #646, I think…unless they want to add all the Future Foundation comics to the total and get it closer to #700 before going to #1. I mean, at this point, why not?

I’m just gonna plug my pal Kurt today…and also mention his podcast.

§ April 4th, 2018 § Filed under pal plugging § 1 Comment

Like it says in the title, I’m going to plug my old pal Kurt’s podcast today…”Welcome to Geektown,” which you can find on the iTunes and other places like Google Play and Stitcher…just search there for it. Anyhoo, Kurt’s taking questions and offering answers on various comics-related topics, and he’d better do a good job at it or he’ll be answering to ME. So if you have your own questions for Kurt to answer, feel free to send ’em in! Keep that boy busy and out of trouble!

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ April 2nd, 2018 § Filed under End of Civilization § 5 Comments

THE PAGE ORDER CHANGETH! The April 2018 edition of Diamond Previews has placed all the merchandise on the flip-side of the catalog, with pages numbered with an extra “M” in the corner. Presumably the “M” stands either for “merchandise” or for “Mike, enjoy doing your silly End of Civilization posts now, sucker!” Well, the joke’s on you, friend I’ve made up in my own head, because here I go with yet another installment of that thing what you named in the hypothetical declaration I’ve assigned to you in our imaginary discussion! So let us sally forth through the aforementioned Previews to see what’s coming our way, and be grateful no further changes, such as, say, removing DC’s listings from the main catalog and putting them into their own booklet, will ever be forthcoming:

p. 42 – Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 12 The Reckoning #1:

Apparently the beginning of the end of Dark Horse’s continuation of the TV show after its tenth and final season…until another publisher comes along with “remember how sad you were when that Buffy comic ended at Season 12? Well here comes Season 13, the continuation of the continuation!”
p. 61 – Hercules Adventures of the Man-God Archive HC:

Okay, let me sell you on on this book with this single scan:

I’ll be by my phone, awaiting your preorders. (And here’s more evidence, if you aren’t convinced.)
p. 80 – Hawkman #1:

…Okay, I won’t snark about yet another Hawkman series, because 1) I want a good, new Hawkman series, and 2) it’s not like a new #1 is going to stand out as unusual or anything anymore.
p. 81 – Justice League #1:

“Guys, c’mon, spread out a little? We’ve got plenty of space up in the sky here.”
p. 82 – Man of Steel #1:

Beginning the six-issue event series where the rest of the DC Universe tells Superman “okay, good, you’ve got your trunks back, now let’s do something about those cuffs.”
p. 102 – Damage #6:

“DAMMIT! We’re not reaching that prime Mike Sterling demographic! How can we pull them in? HOW!?”

“Uh, sir, I have a crazy plan that just…might…work.”
p. 139 – Superman Blue Vol. 1 TP:

Well, I guess we’re right on time for nostalgia now.
p. 147 – DC Gallery The Joker 1:1 Bust by Rick Baker:

Finally, just the right piece to finish decorating the nursery.
p. 148 – Doomsday Clock Rorschach and Mime Action Figure 2-Pack:

Okay, look…I’ve been trying to think of a way to get that Seymour action figure into circulation at long last. I thought maybe he could be a bonus figure in the Giant Alien Monster Playset but clearly that would be reserved for the Bernies. A New Frontiersman Playset seems unlikely, so Seymour’s toy debut may yet be a ways away. But I’ll think of something!
p. 157 – League of Extraordinary Gentlemen The Tempest #1:

Can the League defeat the menace of the Flippers and the Spikers without having to resort to the dreaded final measure of the Superzapper? Or will they need the assistance of the Black Widow, the pilot from Gravitar, and the Space Duelers to overcome the menace?
p. 252 – Charlie’s Angels #1:

Okay, start the countdown to either the Army of Darkness or Vampirella team-up. …C’mon, y’all know you want it.
p. 284 – Garfield Homecoming #1:

At long last Garfield is back in the Marvel Universe.
p. 339 – Barack Panther #1:

p. 346 – Fathom Primer:

I thought this time-travel movie was confusing before, but now it’s underwater? Sheesh.
p. 374 – Shit Is Real GN:

Just pointing out this title made it into Previews uncensored. Is this a milestone? I think it’s a milestone.
p. 455 – Comic Book Implosion:

THE SHOCKING REVELATION: if it weren’t for the DC Implosion, Killer Croc may not have been in the Suicide Squad movie. My reason for saying so is right here. EDIT: Literally woke up in the middle of the night and remembered Slipknot (the Firestorm villain, not the band) which, um, invalidates my Croc assumption, I suppose.
p. M20 – Legendary Comics Marvel Deadpool 1/2 Scale Resin Bust:

“Look, just don’t display me facing that creepy Joker bust from earlier. He creeps me out.”
p. M60 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Triwizard Tournament Harry Version A Action Figure with Flash Wand:

So you can cheap out and get the figure that doesn’t have a light-up wand, or for just a few dollars more you get that full-on light-up action. As we learned from that one Iron Man statue a while back, nothin’ says “fine art” like “flashing LEDs.” …Okay, nobody was calling these Harry Potter figures fine art, but come on.
p. M77 – Sofubi Toy Box 018A Tyrannosaurus Figure:

After pages of “Cat Girl on Knees” and “Here Are Some Panties” figurines with elaborate titles tied in somehow to various anime releases, it’s nice to just have “here’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex figure, for no reason other than it’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex figure…enjoy.”
p. M94 – Harley Quinn Mad Love Juniors Cosmetic 2-Piece Set:

“Hey kids, want to be like the character in Mad Love who was openly and emotionally manipulated into an unhealthy relationsh–”


“Um…enjoy your Harley Quinn goodies, kids!”
p. M98 – Jurassic World Pez Dispensers:

By all rights, when you pop the heads back there should be a little soundchip that makes a roaring dinosaur sound. But sadly there isn’t, so you’re all on your own to pick up that slack. …Remember, do it every time.
Marvel Preview p. 104 – Generations TPB:

Ah, a collection of the series that had everyone asking “…how do these fit into Marvel continuity, exactly?” Maybe throwing the “Secret Wars” logo on there may have helped.

I’m sure I made a typo somewhere in this post which negates my entire point.

§ March 29th, 2018 § Filed under this week's comics § 11 Comments

So there I was, reading the long-awaited final issue of Dark Nights: Metal, new this week from DC Comics, a series that has been a hoot-and-a-half pretty much all the way through, until I come to this. Here, at a gathering where one person has just given an inspirational speech, the others cry out their approval with the traditional cheer of

…by which I assume they mean “hear, hear,” the shortened form of the older phrase “hear him, hear him,” which makes it even more obvious that somebody must have screwed up somewhere. It’s very much an “editing by spellcheck” error, like the kind that was prevalent at the original early ’90s Valiant Comics, which never met a misused “it’s” it didn’t like.

I mean, yeah, okay, it happens. Everyoone makes mistaaks, but it’s especially embarrassing at the end of a highly-regarded, high profile event series for which they’re dinging you a fiver per copy. As these things go, it’s fairly minor…at least the pages aren’t out of order, or the cover doesn’t have an enormous spelling mistake in big red letters:

Anyway, I found that Dark Nights typo distracting. Had it been, like, in someone’s word balloon, maybe I wouldn’t have been bothered as much, but there it is, in attention-grabbing bold letters, floating over the heads of the characters, poking me directly in my eyes. I know some people do argue for the “here, here” spelling, but my calm and rational response is that they’re wrong and must be shunned forever.

As for the comic itself, aside from all that: loud and fun nonsense, that’s taking another shot at making a certain DC Comics second-stringer usable again, which may or may not work this time. We’ll see. Also, in terms of “introducing new characters and teams and leading into new comic book series,” I give it a 0.75 on the “Last Issue of Millennium” Blatancy Scale, which I think is more than fair.

Yes, “buck” is supposed to be singular.

§ March 28th, 2018 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, retailing § 7 Comments

Hey, I keep forgetting to mention that Mike over at Zombie Cat Bacon is doing a rundown of comics blogs linked at a couple of the weblog update sites (such as the immortal Comics Weblog Update-a-Tron 3000) and seeing who’s active, who’s not, who’s moved on to other formats, who’s transcended this world of pain, who’s naughty, who’s nice, and so on. That link up there goes to the most recent post, but the previous installments are mostly on the main page and the next page back.

It’s interesting, if a little…I don’t know, melancholy I guess, since a lot of the folks I thought of as “my fellow comics bloggers” have, probably wisely, found other things to do, leaving me and a few others as the last standing members of the old folks…er, old guard still doing whatever it is we think we’re doing. Meanwhile, you young folks with your Tumblrs and your Mastodons and your Snapgrams will forge ahead with your New and Now comics commentary while I’m still posting about how comics aren’t like how they were back when I was a kid, while trying to open up my Geritol with my weak, gnarled hands.

Of course comic blogging is all going to end with Johanna and I fighting each other with broadswords on a desert plateau somewhere, while Neilalien looks sadly down upon us from whatever multidimensional plane to which he’d long since ascended.

• • •

Here, let me write a little about comics so it’s not just blogging about blogging again:

One of the recent comics retail phenomenons is of course the recent increase in demand for issues leading up to The Big Anniversary Issues, Action Comics #1000 and Amazing Spider-Man #800. To a small extent, some of the sales increase, at least in the case of Marvel’s books, may be attributable to the gradual rise in purchases due to the recent, and already about to be rescinded, “Marvel Legacy” initiative, as I wrote about here. In the case of Spidey’s book, however, the primary reason seems to be a combination of whatever is going on the Green (or, rather, Red) Goblin, a new evolution of a classic Marvel villain, plus the fact that Amazing Spider-Man sales had been kinda eh lately which means a “scarcity” of copies in comparison to the number of people trying to get their hands on them. They’re Hot, They’re Rare, People Snap Lots of Copies off Shelves, They’re Even Rarer and Hotter Now. You know the cycle.

Action Comics I’ve certainly noticed a small bump in sales as we approach #1000, but not quite the same “hotness” since I’ve had pretty good luck getting reorders on recent issues. A nice side effect is that the lenticular covers for the “Oz Effect” storyline, which, er, I may have had a few extras for and thus left on the rack, are selling again.

Now the trick of course, as has been noted, is trying to figure out how these titles are going to sell after hitting the big double and/or triple zero milestone…made especially trickier as we’ve got some changes in status quos coming to both (yet another relaunch for one, Big Name Writer for the other). As I’m pretty sure I’ve already discussed somewhere already (oh, wait, it was here), the relaunched Spider-Man I’m going to have a lot easier time figuring numbers on (the assumption being that ASM sales will likely shrink back to where they were before), while for Bendis coming onto Superman, I’m going to have to extend all my sales-estimating powers. I think it’ll do well at least at first, but how well, for how long? That’s what they pay me the big buck to figure out, so let’s hope I can.

Remember when my Swamp Thing posts were all like “HEY, SWAMP THING’S HAND IS IN AN ISSUE OF INFINITE CRISIS.”

§ March 26th, 2018 § Filed under justice league, pal plugging, swamp thing, television § 4 Comments

An Addendumdedumdum to My Most Recent Post: it is now The Future, so I may now reveal the truth behind that No-Prize. It is, in fact, a No-No-Prize, a simulacrum, a deliberate reconstruction of what how a No-Prize may have appeared, constructed by a friend (not Rob, as previously theorized) who shall go nameless here lest Stan the Man himself call down the Merry Marvel Marching Society upon him for such perilous perfidy. Anyway, said friend assembled the pics, slapped ’em on envelopes, and sent them to me and at least one other person just for laffs. YOU GOT ME, FRIEND I AM PROTECTING FROM THE MARVEL ZOMBIE HORDE.

• • •

So the only comic news this week is the revelation that Swamp Thing is returning to the funnybook pages (like, again…he’s always up to something, somewhere, since he’s come back to the regular DC Universe). He’s going to be a member of the revived Justice League Dark title, along with Zatanna and Detective Chimp, as God intended:

…yeah, that’s a new look for him. Saw someone on Twitter (can’t remember who, now) commenting that he’s basically been made to look like Alan Moore, which, okay, that’s kind of funny. Anyway, I’m looking forward to this and the other dozen or so new Justice League titles DC is releasing in the wake of that movie’s success.

• • •

What’s that? You want more Swamp Thing news, you say? Well, you’ve come to probably the right place, as there are a couple of new toys, or at least new to me, that just came to my awareness thanks to being pointed out by pals on the Twitter (and images for which I “borrowed” from this good person’s Twitter feed. First up is one based on the Justice League Action animated series appearing on a Cartoon Network near you.

And then this second one is from the “DC Super Friends” line:

Interesting that both feature Swamp Thing with his traditional weapon of choice, the Huge-Ass Club. Anyway, I suppose I’ll have to track these down, too, even though I’m trying to buy less doodads and tchotchkes but there’s always the Swamp Thing Exception Clause in my life contract as I pass through the other end of middle age.

• • •

Here’s a thing I somehow missed back in the toy stores of yore, but now reproduced in the new popular digital format all you kids are into: the handheld Swamp Thing game from Tiger Electronics, in all its emulated glory.

Anyway, while all you nerds are playing your funnybook game, I’ll be over here playing this manly sportsman-like Electronic Quarterback from Coleco (which, all kidding aside, I actually did play back in the late ’70s, as a friend owned it — I had a basketball version, for some reason, though that specific game appears not to be amongst the emulated here).

• • •

So I did watch SyFy’s new Krypton show (as discussed previously) and…yeah, it seemed interesting enough. At first, it seemed like it was going to go the Smallville route of making the Superman story unnecessarily complicated for the sake of getting any kind of compellingly-watchable TV show out of all this nonsense. But of course this pushes everything far enough back that Superman himself, as we know him, while offstage (for now) and the target of some kind of time-traveling threat, is relatively untouched by the proceedings. In Smallville, despite knowing that yes, this was just a different interpretation of the character, it was difficult to draw a line from what we were seeing in that show to what we knew about Superman. Just…too many weird continuity shenanigans. That’s more the problem with my fanboy brain than anything the producers were doing, admittedly. In Krypton, though, actual events on Krypton are enough of an open book that I could theoretically avoid any such issues.

And I say “theoretically” only because I’m way behind on the few shows I do watch, and adding one more to the pile isn’t going to help matters any. I watched this first one more out of curiosity, but I expect I won’t end up watching any more ’til it’s on a streaming service or discs I can rent from Netflix. I will reiterate that directly connecting the events of the show to the “present” of Superman’s time was the gimmick needed to get me at least somewhat interested, more than just giving us A Game of Space-Thrones That Is Sorta Connected to Superman, Eventually.

• • •

Hey, my old pal Brandon is doing a little research for a collector’s guide project he’s working on, regarding “all your favorite giant rubber animals, dinos and monsters […] Toys by Imperial Toy, Chitech, Dor Mei & more!” If you’re on the Twitterers, you can follow that link and direct-message him there. Or if you’re not on the Tweetings, you can email me and I can pass along your contact information. If you can help him out, please do! Thanks!

I can only presume that my mailman just sighs and shakes his head every time he has to put something in my mailbox.

§ March 21st, 2018 § Filed under marvel § 4 Comments

EDIT: Update at end of this post!

So here’s something I got in the mail the other day:

…what appears to be a genuine Marvel No-Prize (which is, for those of you who don’t know, the long-running “award” of sorts sent out by Marvel to the fans for various reasons, and is always comprised of an empty envelope). I’m pretty sure this wasn’t sent by Marvel, as that looks like my old friend (and former coworker) Rob’s writing on the front of the envelope there, so the full story of this particular item is yet in my future.

I once had what I thought was a surefire way of getting an actual from-Marvel No-Prize for myself a few decades back, in the 1980s, when it seemed like No-Prizes were just given out willy-nilly. Sometimes No-Prizes were given out for coming up with some clever explanation for what appeared to be an in-story mistake or some other kind of error. I found such an error in Marvel’s in-house “fanzine” Marvel Age, where an article was given the wrong page number on the table of contents. Turning to that page actually brought you to a picture of Doctor Doom, and I had some kind of elaborate and “funny” and possibly No-Prize-worthy idea that this was in fact a cunning ruse by ol’ Vic Von, to trick people into gazing upon his visage and falling under his thrall, instead of finding a sneak peek of Wolfpack or whatever that article was in the TOC.

Anyway, never mailed it in, so I lost my chance at my non-reward…but I guess getting this in the mail makes up for it. Thanks, anonymous benefactor who is probably Rob!

EDIT 3/23/18: Okay, it wasn’t Rob, but another friend who mocked up a No-Prize envelope and mailed it to me. That sneaky guy!

For the love of God, I hope they’re not eating the gum.

§ March 19th, 2018 § Filed under retailing, trading cards § 6 Comments

So I haven’t done a whole lot with trading cards at my store since opening up a tad over three years ago. I think I maybe a box of some Marvel set in 2015 that slowly, eventually sold out. It was a trend I noticed at the previous place of employment, too…the nonsport cards just weren’t doing all that great for us. I mean, sure, the game cards did fine, your Magic and your Pokemon and your Spellfire and your Galactic Empires, that’s a different story. But your “110 More Tiny Pictures of Wolverine” card sets, those just seem…passé of late.

I mean, nothing against them. I’d like them to sell, and new sets still come out once in a while, so they’re selling somewhere, but it’s not like how it was in ye olden dayes. (Okay, yeah, I know, comics themselves don’t sell like they used to, either.) But we’re a long way from when we’d get in multiple cases of whatever the newest Marvel Universe set was, and we’d just put a stack of full boxes of packs up by the register and watch the impulse buys happen and that stack disappear. In the ’80s and ’90s, it seemed like everybody bought cards. I even still have a few binders of sets I put together back then…the all-chromium set of Golden Age comic book covers is still a weird favorite of mine.

For the longest time, the nonsport cards…well, okay, let me stop being coy, specifically the Marvel cards…were like sports cards. Lots of people coming in and asking about them, but never because they wanted to buy any. It was almost exclusively “what are mine worth?” and “will you buy them?” Rarely did the words “Boy, I would sure like to purchase any available sets of Marvel Universe Series IV you may have!” echo throughout our showroom, which didn’t exactly encourage us to stock card sets in any kind of depth. And we did have card sets (again, still talking about the previous place of employment)…had a small glass case with a number of sets and chase cards prices out and displayed, but only rarely did they move.

Shortly after I opened my new shop, I had someone bring in a collection of still-sealed boxes of nonsport cards (Marvel and otherwise) that I did okay with selling online. Usually not for a lot of money, but they sold, so the demand was there…the boxes just had to be cheap. And recently, an old friend of mine began to liquidate some of his collection, and asked me to sell his card product: full boxes, autographed cards, and even some of those slabbed, graded single cards. It was from his collection that I obtained this box of Dune cards you may have seen me post about on the Twitters:

…which ended up selling for about $40, which…well, that ain’t nuthin’, but when first I saw that I figured “ah geez, a hundred bucks easy!” until I looked at the eBay card market and eh, that wasn’t going to happen. But still, that’s $40 we didn’t have before, and for a full box of relatively recent trading cards, that ain’t too bad, I guess. I sold a bunch of boxes of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? cards for about $15 each, which doesn’t seem like much, but eventually you’d just rather have the $15 a pop than multiple boxes sitting in a storage room somewhere.

Just the other day, my friend brought me another box of unopened card boxes, including this set which I don’t even remember:

I mean, I imagine I would have remembered at least the typo on the lid (“FANS-tastic,” indeed) but it’s possible that 1) it was a while ago, and there’s probably plenty of card product I just don’t remember, or 2) there was so much card product that we couldn’t order everything, so we passed on this one. As far as I can tell, there weren’t even fancy chase cards randomly packed in this series, which would have been especially odd in 1991, I think. Anyway, like most sets from the manufacturer Comic Images, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of “collectors’ market” online demand for sealed boxes.

However, the new few sets seem to do have demand, selling for…well, not quite original retail, or maybe thereabouts, but certainly not the $1.29 I’ve seen some other card boxes sell for (Desert Storm cards, anybody?).

I remember the Marvel Masterpieces cards being quite the hot ticket back in the day:

…as people were really taken with the look of these cards, and, as I recall, they were quite nice. Seeing the full, sealed box like this does twinge the ol’ nostalgia nerves, I have to admit.

The thing about the next two sets:

…is not just that the design and color of the boxes attracted attention, but the size. This goes for that Masterpieces box, too…these were wee little tiny boxes, palm-sized and basically just shouted to customers “Look how small and cute we are! C’mon, don’t mess with packs, just buy us by the full box!” I can’t help but think this really encouraged the impulse buys at the time…just made them psychologically easier and more appealing to justify purchasing, over the big ol’ unwieldy Comic Images boxes with the 48 fat packs and a not-zero amount of air.

And as it turns out, there’s still a pretty good aftermarket for these as well. Not that I’ve sold mine yet, but sales histories for the sets seem to show that there have been multiple sales at significantly better than close-out prices, so with any luck it’s just a matter of time.

None of this means, of course, that there’s any sort of potential improvement in the marketplace for new trading card sets that’ll sell to store walk-in traffic. Those are different circumstances, but still, maybe I’ll try out a new card set or two just to see how they do. The 1990s market is never coming back, but it shouldn’t hurt too much to poke at the edges of the 2018 market. so long as one pokes wisely.

49 (and change).

§ March 16th, 2018 § Filed under jack kirby, obituary, old, smallville, superman, television § 13 Comments

So one of the victims of my part-week blogging break was no birthday post. Yes, that’s right, your pal Mike just began his last year of his forties this past Tuesday…the warranty’s long expired, the creaking frame continues to bow, and the decay continues apace. I did mention the occasion on the Twitters, however, and received some very kind response there (as well as wishing birthday-and-blogging-brother Andrew a happy day).

The Bullest with the Mostest, Bully the Little Birthday Bull, worked up a bit of magic:

You can find the original image he used on this page of nightmare fuel. Oh, and by the way, now that I can make GIFs I may need to revisit that last pic.

Oh, and Tom Spurgeon over at Ye Olde Comics Reporter also noted the occasion, as he does every year. Thanks, Tom!

Another reason I kinda skipped out on the birthday post this time around is that I had my heart set on a particular panel, but could not find the thing, which has me wondering if I’m remembering the right comic, or if my age-addled brain has it confused with another comic, or if I didn’t just make up the whole thing out of thin air. Anyway, I’ll mention it here in case it rings a bell with any of you fine folks:

What I’m remembering is a panel from a Star Trek comic, maybe in the first DC series, or possibly the second run, where mention is made of Captain Kirk’s 49th birthday. However, and the reason this has stuck with me all this time (assuming I’m remembering it correctly at all) is that the “49th” in the comic had very obviously been relettered just prior to going to print, and almost certainly read “50th” originally. I mean, that was my presumption, in that they probably wouldn’t be making any kind of big deal out of a 49th birthday for story purposes. I remember guessing they were likely saving a 50th birthday story for some bigger event, or someone at the main Trek headquarters decided that they didn’t want Kirk to be that old, or some darned thing.

I hunted through my Trek comics for the scene, and couldn’t find it…I still have full runs of both series (didn’t give ’em up to my store!) plus all the specials and minis and whatnot, so if it actually exists, it’s in there somewhere. But, like I said, at this point I’m even sure it was in a Trek comic and involving Kirk. If you know, please share your knowledge!

• • •

So this week, DC released a freebie funnybook tying into the imminent Superman-prequel Krypton series appearing on the SyFy cable channel:

My immediate reaction to seeing that cover is “…Tom? Tom Welling?” but that’s likely because I watched all ten seasons of Smallville and I’m still recovering. But it didn’t help when I looked inside the comic at the “meet the characters” section and Superman’s grandfather is dressed like this:

…which all the world looks like the get-up Clark was wearing in the latter seasons of Smallville:

I mean, that has to be deliberate, right? Aside from all that…despite my initial skepticism regarding the show (“It’s about Superman’s grandpa?”) I’m actually intrigued, particularly now that I know about the time travel element and the inclusion of DC’s classic space hero Adam Strange. I may be one of those “wait to binge it on streaming” guys, since I’m way behind on everything as it is, but I’ll at least try to catch the first episode. …There better be at least one Thought-Beast on the show, that’s all I’m saying.

This tweet from Twitter pal Joe sort of got me thinking about that Smallville-esque comparison, though Joe’s point of contention/admiration was more for the “Fight Like El” tagline, which is admittedly both amazing and appalling. And if you’re wondering, yes, the entry for the Zod family character has a reference to kneeling, because that’s just a Zod thing now and you better be used to it. (“Fight Like El” reminded me of these somewhat confrontational DC bookmarks from a while back.)

Oh, that World of Krypton comic, by the way, is a reprint of the first issue of the mini-series of the same name from the mid-ish 1980s by John Byrne and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. If you’ve never read it, it’s not bad…and if you like it, the entire series has been very conveniently reprinted in a World of Krypton trade paperback released just a week or two ago (along with other Krypton-based stories).

• • •

Oh, and there’s going to be a live-action New Gods movie…you know, no big deal. That of course means…LIVE ACTION SLEEZ:

Well, okay, maybe not. But the director of A Wrinkle in Time, Ava DuVernay, is signed on to direct, and given what I’ve seen of the visuals for that film (which I haven’t had a chance to see yet, despite really, really wanting to) gives me a good feeling about her take on Kirby’s Fourth World. Also, to quote my hopes for this film from Twitter, only with the stupid typo in the original corrected:

“I want this New Gods movie to be the Kirby-est thing that’s ever Kirbied. I want to SEE the quotation marks around assorted words in actors’ dialogue.”

I mean…right? Yes, yes, I know Thor: Ragnarok was very Kirby-ish, but New Gods was straight out of Kirby’s head, no Stan Lee required. I want everyone in their original costumes (yes, even…especially…Black Racer), I want dialogue quoted from the comics, I want that opening bit preserved in its entirety (“THERE CAME A TIME WHEN THE OLD GODS DIED!”), everything. I don’t care if movie audiences are ready for it. Let the studio paraphrase Jack himself on the movie posters: “DON’T ASK, JUST WATCH IT!”

Alas, it comes too late for the Don Rickles cameo:

…though it was suggested having one of his old movies/TV appearances on a television screen might be a good reference for those in the know.

But…c’mon, a New Gods movie. I can’t wait.

• • •

Mark Evanier reports that comics writer Michael Fleisher passed away last month at the age of 75. He was probably most famous for his Spectre and his Jonah Hex (and, ’round these here parts, the amazing Hex), but this is what I’ll remember him for the most:

I wrote a bit about that book a couple of years back…man, I spent I don’t know how many hours perusing that tome. And there it still sits on my bookshelf today, nearly forty years after I first acquired it. Thanks, Michael, for all that entertaining information you provided a young me, just beginning to learn about Superman’s history.

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