Have to admit the “Trivial Pursuit” emblem threw me.

§ June 27th, 2022 § Filed under justice league § 1 Comment

So one of these ended up in my hands recently, a Justice League Unlimited Coloring and Activity Book with “Easy Tear Out Pages,” dating from 2008. The pages had not been colored, activitied in, or easily torn out, so I had a complete item here, though the cover had some moderate surface wear. The pages inside were just like new.

But the puzzles and such. Hoo boy. Now I realize I am (ahem) a few decades past the recommended age groups for this book, so going through each puzzle and proclaiming “HAH! You call this challenging?” is desperately missing the point. That’s not going to stop me from saying that about a couple of the entries in this volume, however, so let me push aside these crying pencil-wielding children begging to be entertaining by Justice League-themed puzzles and let me get started.

The puzzles themselves range in difficulty, sometimes even really simple activities like “draw a line from Superman to his emblem” here:

…which looks incredibly easy on the surface (Superman’s wearing his emblem right there, making it a cinch to spot in the column of choices) but this could very well be the first time a kid encountered the word “emblem.” If s/he doesn’t know it, they should pick it up from context I’d imagine, and plus you get a good look at other character’s emblems as well. Even if those overly-fancy designs I don’t think I’ve seen elsewhere.

Honestly, though, this connect the dots page:

I mean, sure, it’s remedial, it’s for really young kids just learning about things like “connect the dots,” and how to draw a line from numbered point to numbered point in order. But c’mon. You first saw that and you went “what, seriously?” I’m not expecting them to throw in a puzzle where you connect all the dots and end up with Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgement,” but maybe a little complication beyond “draw an oval” might have been nice.

Just a few pages earlier, they put in a spoiler for the later dots puzzle:

This is one of those “copy this stock image into the blank boxes on the opposite page” thingies, and those I remember liking as a young Mikester. Copying over the contents of each box into the corresponding box until you ended up with a vague approximation of the original picture was always kind of neat, and certainly more fun than that “draw a circle” business.

The Flash connect-the-dots is kind of funny as well:

“I wonder what this arm-shaped series of dots and numbers in place of the Flash’s arm is going to be?” [LATER] “Wait, it’s his arm? Frankly, I’m amazed.”

My favorite pages in here are the “draw in your own pictures” pages, where they give you a small prompt (pic on Wonder Woman in the corner (a different pic from the previous ones, surprisingly), with the caption asking “What is Wonder Woman trying to lasso?” And then you, the kid reading this and armed with pen, ink, crayons, whathaveyou, took at a stab at it.

Evocative, no? Well, I gave it a go:

Yes, it is beautiful, thank you for noticing.

Please don’t leave a comment under the name “Big Poopypants.”

§ June 24th, 2022 § Filed under cerebus, retailing § 5 Comments

A couple of questions from last Friday’s posting:

Ray Cornwall comes in from the sea to ask

“How many issues of Cerebus from 1-25 do you have? I was heavy into Cerebus for a long time. I’ve kind of walked away from Sim a bit, although I do have the Alex Raymond book here to read at some point…”

Yeah, I have that same book, too, on the ol’ “to read” pile. Hey, did I ever tell you guys about getting a phone call from Dave Sim? He was calling comic shops to plan in-person visits to drum up interest in that very book (The Strange Death of Alex Raymond, it’s called)…he started to introduce himself and what he’s done, and I was like “I’ve read all of Cerebus, don’t worry, I familiar with you!” which amused him. When he started describing the book to me, I asked “is this including any of the material from glamourpuss (which featured strips about cartoonists including Raymond), so I also surprised him with the fact that I’d read all of that series, too.

Anyway, we set a date for him to drop by, and then COVID happened and alas, it never came to pass. Which is too bad, because I probably would have asked him to sign the issue of the Howard the Duck magazine he’d worked on. Ah, well. I still ordered copies of the book, and yes, I sold a copy or two.

But back to your question. A couple of years back, I decided that, despite having the first 25 issues of Cerebus reprinted in the Swords of Cerebus trade paperbacks (now themselves supplanted by the first Cerebus “phone book,” containing all those stories*), I wanted to see if I could track down the individual issues. My posts leading me into looking at eBay and picking up some of those comics can be found here and here.

I’ve probably bought about…8 or 9 issues of those pre-#26 Cerebuses so far, though I haven’t picked any up in a while. I also have issues #1 and #2 in deluxe Kickstartered reprints, which I think are probably going to have to do unless genuine copies slip through the front door of my shop someday. (I write about that #1 here.)

I really need to get my comics at home in some kind of order before I start going on the back issue trail, fillin’ them holes. I’ve said that before and I never seem to find the time to do it. Dealing with comics all day at work usually means not wanting to deal with them at home, so there you go, I guess. But I would like to have a complete Cerebus run in comic format (even with a couple of reprint ringers) someday. The aesthetics of the covers just tickle something in my brain.

• • •

Daniel asks some very good questions, for which I don’t have very good answers

“RE: Tim Sale, did you ever get a sense of what your customers thought of his work? His art was so wonky and esoteric that it always struck me odd that he became so popular with the mainstream. He was never a natural draftsman, but he had such an exceptional design sense that he was able to more than compensate for whatever he lacked as a traditional figurative artist. A real talent. He’ll be missed.

“I guess that’s a broader question: When accounting for the era in which each was at his/her creative peak, are stylized, design-centric cartoonists (Sale, Simonson, Kirby, Mignola) more popular with mainstream customers than traditional, naturalistic draftsmen like Neal Adams, George Perez, John Byrne or any of their imitators? Or are consumers more conservative and literal in their tastes (not that that’s a good thing or a bad thing)?”

Like I said, good questions, and unfortunately I don’t have any real good answers for you. To respond in very, very general terms, if I received customer pushback it would be against comics that looked “weird,” and if I received specific customer approval for comics art, it would be for those drawn in a more typical, representative manner. (Talkin’ superhero comics here, in case that needs to be made explicit.)

This always varied by customer, of course. Most customers seemed to enjoy Sale’s work…unusual it may have been by typcial Marvel/DC standards, but being the artist on a very popular Batman storyline (“The Long Halloween,” natch) helped “sell” him and his style to those members of the comic-buying public who may have been on the fence about that work. But there were also customers who rejected the art as being “too cartoony” (you know the drill, he’s not the only one).

If I had to hazard a guess, there’s more tolerance for the wide variety of styles available on superhero books than one would expect. And for every comic art style out there, there’s always someone who’s gonna love it and someone who’s gonna hate it. And what I consider “good” won’t be someone else’s taste…had a customer once come in and say “I’m looking for comics with really great art, like [x]” where [x] was, in my mind, a pretty terrible artist. Like, “blind people can tell the art is bad” terrible. But I choked down my bile and proceeded to find comics illustrated in a similar vein.

For the general non-usually-reading-comics public, I maybe have a slight sense that comics that don’t look like what they think comics normally look like may appeal slightly more? The Long Halloween and Superman: For All Seasons didn’t look like normal superhero comics. In fact, a person new to comics might look at it and say “ooh, this is pretty” in a way they wouldn’t if they looked at, I don’t know, a comic filled with fights and cramped panels and whatnot.

But on the other hand some newbies looking for comics want a comic book that looks like what they think it should look like, and the more Spider-Man punching the Rhino in this issue, the better.

So Daniel, I may need to think about this some more. This isn’t much of an answer, but I hope it gets across the ambiguity and difficulty of really trying to answer it.

But it does get me to thinking…who’s the one superhero comic book artist everyone can agree on. I mean, agree is good. I’m guessing George Perez, or Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Who doesn’t love George or Jose? Big poopypants, that’s who.


* I don’t believe the phone book contains the new “bonus” material that was included in the Swords volumes.

“In his house at R’lyeh, dead Sluggo waits dreaming.”

§ June 22nd, 2022 § Filed under nancy § 2 Comments

art by Ernie Bushmiller, new dialogue by Paul Di Filippo

“Money? Oh, no thank you.”

§ June 20th, 2022 § Filed under marvel, retailing § 5 Comments

The last time we had a comic book tie-in to the Fortnite video game, we were mostly caught offguard by its immediate and immense demand from customers, mostly from lots of new faces who wanted the codes inserted into the issues for the game. The end result was reports of shortages and price gouging, lots and lots of desperate phone calls looking for the comics, and DC reprinting the issues multiple times.

In the usual comic marketplace, second (or later) printings don’t see anywhere close to the same demand as the first printings (except sometimes from speculators who from all appearances randomly pick certain reprints as being “valuable” and snap ’em up for eBay sales). However demand for DC’s Batman/Fortnite reprints remained very high, often selling out as quickly as the first printings.

Sales on the series did become less frenetic eventually, as retailers were able to adjust their orders on the first printings of issues 3 (I believe) and above after seeing demand for the first two issues. As such, eventually there was plenty to go around (particularly in areas like mine where there is a high incidence of comic shops) and the desperation to track down these comics decreased. Plus, there was the hardcover release that not only collected all these comics together, but also included a code for all the items previously offered as well as a bonus item.

When the later printings came into stock, the primary thing I was asked about them was if the codes were still included. That these were reprints made not a difference to most of these customers, only that they could still get these game codes. As I recall, the people who did want first prints were almost exclusively existing comic collectors. The new customers, the ones that entered the shop to get added material for their video games, they couldn’t care less what printing it was so long as the codes worked.

Which brings me to the Marvel Fortnite: Zero War comic.

This was a slightly slower burn than the Batman/Fortnite book, at least for me. Probably several reasons for that, like being the second major publisher out of the gate to do this gimmick. Also, that initial order numbers were probably much higher this time, resulting in more copies to meet demand (again, especially in locales like mine where there are plenty of comic stores). My own order was…pretty high, but on its Wednesday release I began to think “uh oh, I may have made a mistake” as sales were not encouraging at first. That changed quickly, and by the weekend they were gone…and I’m still getting calls for them.

That I’m still getting calls now even after what I presumed would be a much higher print run and much higher local availability tells me demand likely exceeds those Batman sales. Maybe it’s just more people want “Spider-Man Fortnite” (which is how I’m hearing it referred to) than Bat-Nite, maybe it’s that we’ve had a year or so for awareness of “codes can show up in comic books!” to percolate throughout Fortnite fandom. Regardless, demand for these comics is still being driven by the inserted game codes, nearly all these new customers citing the codes are reason for their purchase.

Which is why it is exceedingly baffling that the second printing for this first issue will not contain the code. Quote from the solicit: “PLEASE NOTE THAT EACH SECOND PRINT ISSUE DOES NOT CONTAIN A REDEEMABLE CODE TO UNLOCK A BONUS DIGITAL COSMETIC IN FORTNITE.” (EDIT: originally used other solicit info which was vague; this is the info from the Penguin Random House solicit)

Now it’s possible I missed and/or forgot the announcement that only the first printings would contain the code. I’ve had a lot on my plate lately, so I wouldn’t put it past me to have overlooked it. I still ordered lots of the first print #1, so I did okay. And all the solicit for the first printing said was, quoting again, “Each first print issue contains a redeemable code to unlock a bonus digital cosmetic in Fortnite!” Doesn’t explicitly say “not in the reprints!” but, well. Again, could’ve missed that notice.

Still doesn’t make this any less stupid a decision. It’s the codes driving these sales. The vast majority of people buying these, in my experience, was the codes for the game. If they’re reading these comics at all, it’s a secondary concern. Nearly everyone who asked about the Batman reprints asked if there were still codes. When I suggested that the first issue of this Marvel series would be reprinted, I was asked “would it still have the code?” Nobody is going to buy this to keep up on the story.

BEFORE YOU COMMENT/SEND IN EMAILS, I know I’m making some blanket statements here. There are always exceptions. As a Twitter pal noted to me, maybe the reprint is for “the discerning gamer whose only in it for the lore.” And I’m sure that’s the case. I HEREBY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT NOT EVERYONE IS BUYING THIS FOR THE CODES (OR SPECULATION).

But most are. As was also pointed out, maybe the decision to omit codes in reprints might not have been Marvel’s decision. Or it could have been Marvel’s strategy to get higher orders on first prints to avoid having to do reprints. I have no idea. But it’s a regrettable decision that’s going to disappoint a huge new audience coming into comics, even if only fed in by a gimmick…but that’s still money that a tiny industry like comics can’t afford to lose the trickle-down from a business that makes some real cash.

Post coming later today.

§ June 20th, 2022 § Filed under sick day § 2 Comments

Sorry, there is a new post for today, but I’m having trouble sitting at my computer due to a back problem. I’ll have it up soon. Thanks for understanding.

“Any Time Is Toad Time.”

§ June 17th, 2022 § Filed under from the vast Mikester comic archives, obituary § 6 Comments

Added another old comic to the personal collection this week, the relatively hard-to-find 1970 underground Tales of Toad by a pre-Zippy the Pinhead Bill Griffith:

It’s one of those comics I’ve kinda/sorta wanted to get, though all three issues of this series was reprinted in a good-sized anthology book of Griffith’s material some years back. But it’s nice to have The Original Thing…it’s like my semi-ongoing attempts to acquire the first 25 issues of Cerebus that I already have in the Swords of Cerebus reprint books.

Anyway, since I got a #1 in my hands, I went ahead and kept the 2nd issue that I’ve had floating around the shop for some time. Now I just need a #3 to show up eventually. I remember at the previous place of employment we had all three issues, and I probably should’ve picked ’em up then. But I also think that about the two copies of Cerebus #1 we had (original and counterfeit) and oh well.

• • •

I wanted to acknowledge the passing of comics artist Tim Sale, probably most famous for Batman: The Long Halloween, but I’m more a Superman: For All Seasons fan myself.

A unique talent whose contributions to the medium were always a special event. He’ll be missed.

I also saw that Everett Peck, probably best known in comics for Duckman, passed away this week.

I remember getting this in at the shop back in 1990, thinking “huh, what the heck is this” and taking a copy. Very weird and funny, and I was probably just as surprised as Peck was when it became an animated TV show. I honestly didn’t know much about him, so that article I linked was quite informative as to his actual breadth of work.

It’s a hard week for losing unique talents…my condolences to the friends, families, and fans of both Sale and Peck.

“The Hot Collectible of the 90’s!”

§ June 15th, 2022 § Filed under collecting § 10 Comments

Okay pals, I know plenty of you reading this have been itchin’ to start a comic book collection of your very own. Well, everyone give a big thanks to the 1990s because they’ve got you covered with these two exciting packages!

First up is the Comic Book Starter Kit, original retail price, as it says right there, a mere three dollars and ninety-nine cents:

Does this kit have everything I ever needed to start collecting?

OH THANK GOD. Let’s flip this sucker over and take a peek.

Whoa nelly, it’s pretty wild they went with Toxic Avenger #1 to entice folks into entering the hobby. But then again, maybe it grabbed a few fans of Troma Films, so who am I to judge. Anyway, more on that comic in a second.

Here’s a closer look at the content list:

Okay, so let’s see. The New Warriors cover price was a buck, the Toxie book is $1.50, the 20 almost certainly polyethylene bags let’s say retail at about a nickel each for a total of a buck…we’re at $3.50 so far. With the Jim Lee cover-of-X-Men-#2 poster and that swank comic collecting guide…well, depending on how you feel about those I guess that can make up the $0.50 balance. A pretty good deal overall.

I have to admit I am this close to busting open the package so I can read what this guide has to say (though it’s probably just this):

…but I think it’s more of an interesting novelty item leaving it intact. Oh, and by the way, while I wanted to snicker at the “2 highly collectible comic [sic]” fact of the matter is that Toxic Avenger #1 does sell for a little bit of a premium. One of those speculator apps has it at $35, which ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at. Only took 30 years to septuple your money, you clever investor you. I didn’t bother to look up the New Warriors issue…if it’s an $1800 book or something let me know. Before you buy it.

Anyway, the other collector’s pack I took in was this ’90s all-over bundle:

A mere fin for five…well, dollar comics, I guess it’s a push ’90s retail-wise. But for your convenience you have a couple two part stories gathered together here, so you don’t have to hunt them down. And you know these are good comics to have because it says right on the package:

It has a ™ on it so it has to be true.

And what’s this?

Don’t you threaten me.

Flipping it over they make good on said threat, with a copy from what must have been a vastly overprinted run:

Here’s a guide to what’s inside, and, y’know, for five bucks I guess this is okay:

The way this is packaged, the last line of the contents is cut off, so we may never know what Spider-Man lends to NFL™ Superpro. It probably says “hand,” but it could be “ten bucks.”

In terms of today’s value, I don’t believe any of these became huge collectibles. I mean, maybe the Spider-Man issues have a little premium attached to them, though they’re hardly the most in-demand parts of the run. There was some brief demand for Sleepwalker of late, but sorry, no demand for NFL Superpro. Maybe if it was NFT Superpro…nope, wait, just checked, too late for those, too.

Like I mentioned, I’m probably selling these intact as the novelties they are, so whoever buys them can bust ’em open or leave them as is. Whatever they want to do, because as this headbanded hero “Treat” ( think) says:


Just a bunch of dorks, hanging out.

§ June 13th, 2022 § Filed under podcast § No Comments

So I’ve been on podcasts before…I was on an episode of the long-running Star Trek podcast Look at His Butt (Kirk’s butt, not mine) way back in 2009, and I was on Kid Chris and Dafna’s Bispectacult podcast in 2007 (available here on the Internet Archive). (Don’t ask for part 2…it was never uploaded and long lost.)

And that’s it, right? I never appeared on a podcast again, and all was right with the world.

WRONG, SUCKER, because I was invited to participate in the swell Vintage Video podcast, a show devoted to discussing all the major films of the 1980s in chronological order. I first found out about it when I was going on about the Stunt Rock movie earlier this year, and a longtime customer of mine turned me on to an episode of the podcast discussing that film. While the hosts of the show were not quite as…enamored with Stunt Rock as I was, I enjoyed the show and continued listening, randomly picking out past episodes from their sizeable catalog while keeping up with the new ones.

And here I am, a few short months later, actually on an episode of the show., discussing the 1981 animated cult classic Heavy Metal!

How I came to connect with the show is explained in the podcast itself, right near the beginning, so please give it a listen as I stammer out the story.

Anyway, host Patrick offered to have me on, and I thought Heavy Metal might be a good choice given my background in comic bookery. And having listened to the episode, I think I did…better than I expected to. Granted, Patrick did some heavy editorial lifting, cutting and adjusting and discarding the parts where I sound dumb…more than once I started a comment, paused and said “whoa, I need to try that again” and everyone was very patient with me. I am not a natural extemporaneous speaker, prone to stuttering and misspeaking, and probably something that can be worked out if I did more than three podcast recordings over 15 years, but I think overall I did okay.

One of the things I didn’t get too much into (despite Patrick straight up asking me near the beginning) was my experience with the film itself. I mean, I suppose I was probably old enough to have gone to the movies and seen it during its original theatrical run, though I imagine as a 12-year-old it might have been a trick to manage without a parent taking me. Thus, my viewings of the film were relegated to catching it on cable TV occasionally, probably bits at a time and never the whole thing in one sitting. I know I eventually watched it all properly once it hit VHS, though the circumstances around that are long forgotten. Probably a friend owned or rented it.

In more recent years I borrowed a DVD of it from Netfilx, and just a few months ago I found myself watching it on the Pluto TV streaming service. And now, needing prepfor the podcast, I purchased a Blu-ray for cheap off that Big Internet Store. I officially own my very own personal copy of Heavy Metal that I can watch at my leisure. Though, to be honest, I watched it fairly intently a couple times over the last two weeks while taking notes, so I’m probably good for a bit.

For Look at My Butt, we recorded over Skype. For Bispectacult, we just sat in my previous place of employment after hours, with Kid Chris and Dafna on one side of the table, me on the other, the minirecorder between us. But for Vintage Video…well, I don’t know if they’d want me to go into their full set-up, but there was definitely a table with professional microphones and pop filters that we all sat at. And there we were, Patrick to my left, cohosts Richard and Jesse to my right, and I was feeling just a little gunshy once the actual recording was about to take place.

Everyone made me feel very welcome, however, and my initial nervousness as the actual recording began (you may be able to hear a little warble in my voice right at the start…I certainly felt it!) turned into a genial chat with pals talking about this nutty film. The folks with whom I was recording are well versed in the movie industry, and in fact work in it, and I hope my comics nerdiness kept up with their showbiz nerdiness. It got to be so fun and casual that I would occasionally almost drift away from the microphone before reminding myself “oh, right, we’re recording this.”

I was trying to think of material we didn’t go into that I could cover here, like the name of Sternn’s little floating robot (Beezer…I choked and forgot it!), but I think I hit a lot of the points I wanted to make, that I printed out on notepaper at just slightly too small a font for me to comfortably read. Edited out of the final recording were a couple instances of me saying “hold on, let me look at this.”

It was an enjoyable experience with some great people, and I recommend that you all check out the Vintage Video podcast, even the episodes I didn’t do. It provides a nice overview of each movie, dives deep into the credits of the cast and crew, offers up trivia and commentary along with a synopsis of the film, and makes for an fun and oddly relaxing listen.

I will tell you it was strange to play the final product and have this permanent reminder of a discussion I had a few days ago. Only, y’know, better, with all my weird tics and pauses cut out. Wish I could do that in real life! Anyway, tune in to find out what my favorite line reads of the film were, which segment was my favorite and how I finally realized the story’s connecting element doesn’t really matter except as a red herring, and which segment I never really cared for before but discovered a newfound appreciation! And did I mention a certain other movie during this podcast? Mmmmmmmmaybe.

Thanks again to Patrick, Jesse and Richard for having me.

A special big stuffed thanks to Bully the Little Substitute Bull…

§ June 13th, 2022 § Filed under Bully, pal plugging § 2 Comments

…for filling in for me last week when I had health stuff, family stuff, all kinds of stuff keeping me from my regular blogging shenanigans.

I apologize in advance to anyone expecting more Bully and only getting me here. I’m not quite as little or bull-ish, though I am a bit on the stuffed side, but I hope you folks will stick around as I go through the usual nonsense I’ve been delivering here for over 18 years now.

If you want to keep up with Bully’s happy trails throughout the internet, you can visit his long-running website Comics Oughta Be Fun! as well as his equally fun Twitter feed.

Thanks Bully, and always remember:

Progressive Bully #7: You didn’t think you’d get me out of here without one of these, did you?

§ June 12th, 2022 § Filed under Bully § 3 Comments

Thanks, folks! We now return you to your regularly scheduled Mike. — Bully

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