Almost typed “much-encrusted,” which technically is true as well.

§ July 17th, 2019 § Filed under question time § No Comments

Oh hey, remember your questions? Let me poke at a couple more of them:

Matt M. howls at the moon with

“Hey Mike. Who should play Blue Devil in the inevitable TV show?”

Well, the answer to that is, of course, Ian Ziering, currently appearing as Blue Devil’s alter ego Dan Cassidy on America’s favorite TV show about a muck-encrusted mockery of a man…no, no, not Last Man Standing, I’m talkin’ about Swamp Thing, natch.

Now, I’m generally terrible at playing the “cast the superhero movie game” (except for this instance, where my casting for Wolverine is perhaps even greater that Hugh Jackman), so I hesitate to try to come up with someone suited (heh) for the role. Not that we’ve seen Mr. Ziering as said Blue Devil yet, nor are we likely to, or at least much of him, as Swamp Thing is headed to an early grave, as perhaps I’ve mentioned on this site before.

So what I propose, to make up for whatever reason the decision was made to can the show, is to do the ol’ switcheroo. Start up a Blue Devil show starring Ian Ziering on the DC Universe service, which guest-stars Swamp Thing, and they can pick up all the plotlines and such from Swampy’s show. Yes, I agree, this idea is genius, and I shall allow DC and Warner Bros. to have it for free. You’re welcome.

• • •

JohnJ jingleheimers the following

“I’m curious how many customers attempt to buy multiple variant covers of new books. Primarily just on the $3.99 books but also on the #1000s. I’m given the option and if there is an Adam Hughes or Frank Cho cover available instead of the main cover, I’ll pick that instead. There must have been a screw-up on a recent Superman cover since I thought I ordered Hughes and ended up with a Rob Liefeld variant! It left me to wonder if his art has finally improved or if the inker decided to only ink half the lines.”

Okay, first, I don’t even remember that Liefeld variant, because that totally would have been the cover I took for myself. Maybe I missed it? You know, all those eye problems and such. But sure, covers get solicited with one artist and ship with another all the time. Well, not all the time, but it happens and the distributor sends out notices regarding the changes ahead of time.

And second…oh yeah, people buy multiple covers of the same comic. And yes, I very definitely had people buying multiples of the recent #1000s, and more than one person buying every variant of those #1000s. Yes, that cost a lot. I’ve even bveen tempted to pick up both covers on things, but I usually resist unless (surprise!) Swamp Thing is involved. Thanks a lot, Justice League Dark.

You ask “how many customers,” and it’s certainly not all of them. But absolutely a few. Which is fine, but can sometimes make ordering for the shelves tricky. You never know if a certain variant is going to catch on or not.

• • •

Kurt bouces in with

“Whatever happened to the New Warriors TV show?”

Well, they cornered Nitro and he used his blowing-up power to blow up which took out part of a city, and then Speedball became Penance, which was weird, and….

…Oh, you mean the actual TV show they announced ages ago? No clue. Just from what I can glean from the internet, which has never lied to me, they’re still working on it, though it no longer has its original broadcast network of Freeform. Didn’t see any news whether that situation has changed (and this article from January of this year has it listed as “in imbo”), so in the meantime, let us all just hope and pray for a comics-accurate depiction of Night Thrasher.

Mostly I’m just mad we don’t have that much more Jennifer Beals as Sheriff Cable to enjoy.

§ July 15th, 2019 § Filed under swamp thing, television § 1 Comment

[some SPOILERS for Swamp Thing episode 7, “Brilliant Disguise”]


So the weird thing about watching the Swamp Thing TV show for a longtime fan of the character like me, aside from the fact that there’s even a halfway faithful Swamp Thing TV show in the first place, is the way it mixes elements of the character from all across its history. Having the Conclave and Nathan Ellery (pictured above) from the original issue #1, in the same episode as the “hallucinogenic plant stuff lets Abby see Swamp Thing as Alec (from #34 of the second series) and all that Rot hoohar from the New 52…it’s just strange not having to wait for all this to gradually accumulate over decades. But then again, the show only has thre episodes left, they got a lot to squeeze in.

Oh, and yes, Avery Sunderland is there, too, as I mentioned when I covered a previous episode. Still a businessman, still involved in, y’know, bad stuff around the town while keeping up a positive public face…anyway, he gets shot out in the swamp for various plot reasons I won’t get into, and as he drags himself to shore, it appears he’s being taken over by whatever evil force has been lurking out in those dark waters and I’m pretty sure this is how we’re getting our Arcane for the series. Okay, he’s not really an actual Arcane, but he and his wife did take Abby in as a child and raised her, so I guess he’s kinda like her uncle now, if you kind of squint a bit? Oh, and the New 52 version of Arcane is tied into the Rot, which is, as previously noted, part of the TV show, whihc makes me think that we’re getting our Arcane-equivalent this way.

A customer asked me the other day if I liked the Swamp Thing show, and I said “yeah, it’s good,” and he was like “oh, I figured you were such a big fan of the character you’d be a purist about it,” and I was all “nah, they got the tone right, the specifics don’t have to be exact.” And I think I found my limit. I’m hoping we’re not seeing Sunderland’s origin as “Arcane.” Would not be a big fan of that.

Now, a couple of episodes back, there was a dream sequence where Abby, imagining her greateest fear, pictured some mysterious shadowed man dragging her off and, without going back to rewatch, I’m pretty sure it was implied this was someone she knew. I thought maybe that was foreshadowing an eventual Arcane appearance, sometime in Season Tw–oh, right. I mean, who knows…maybe that Arcane somehow is the dark force lurking in the swamp, and is possessing Sunderland’s body via the Rot, and thus will actually be Abby’s Uncle Arcane. …So welcome to Mike’s Fanfiction Corner, everybody.

I am trying to enjoy the show for what it is, and honestly, I do. But the part of my brain that contains the last five decades of Swamp Thing comics keeps pushing for certain things to happen. I want Arcane and his Un-Men. I want that alien from issue #9. I was Nathan Ellery controlling a big ol’ robot monster, oh, and also have a pet monkey. I want Chester Williams. …I’m grateful, and frankly amazed, at what we did get (again, pictured above, Nathan Ellery) that knowing the end is near for the show makes me sad for all the stuff we could have had but now won’t. Oh well.

And your DC Daily Update: I think one of the panelists on the show may have made a very, very slight reference to the Swamp Thing program’s impending ending. Nothing explicit, but a soft acknowledgement that maybe we don’t have that much more Swamp Thing to enjoy. I am really curious as to how it’s going to be addressed on the channel’s official “up with DC!” promotional outlet. I know I keep bringing it up, but I’m fascinated by this, and feel a bit for the panelists for eventually having to sell this cancellation as, well, maybe not a good thing, but perhaps not all that bad? We’ll see.

Nobody spoil the end of Atlantis Attacks for me.

§ July 12th, 2019 § Filed under collecting, hulk § 2 Comments

Have been kinda short on blogging time this week, so sorry for the impromptu low content mode. I’m here, I’m still alive, and I can see, mostly, at least for now. Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things next week.

I am slowly starting to catch up on comics, after, what, two and a half months of mostly not reading anything (aside from Doomsday Clock, natch). Mostly caught up on Immortal Hulk, though I started reading those after reading the recent Peter David/Dale Keown one-shot Last Call. It’s nice getting the David/Keown team on the Hulk again, but the premise of the story (Bruce Banner has hired an assassin to kill him, since he can’t commit suicide without the Hulk preventing it) seems somewhat undermined by the premise of Immortal Hulk (that Banner/Hulk can’t die, period). I mean, the story’s fine, and features the return of a minor character from David’s original Hulk run…I just found the conflicting premises amusing.

Anyway, I’m trying to catch up…I was falling behind before, since with my eye issues I was reading more slowly. But not reading at all has really put me at the bottom of a growing mountain of comics. Even winnowing my pulls down a bit hasn’t helped, but, well, as problems go this is pretty minor, I realize. It just gets a little frustrating, especially since, you know, it’s my job an’ all. Used to be each New Comics Day evening, I’d plow through the new comics I picked up, and then I could reread some old stuff, or maybe some new back issue acquisitions, or something. It’s not because I own a shop, I think, but more just Mike’s old eyes.

I’ll catch up, eventually, I suppose. I may need to take a vacation from selling comics to spend time reading comics, which…balances out some universal equation of some sort, I think. Despite popular belief, I don’t get to “stand around and read comics all day” at the shop. I mean, if only.

Important Eye of Mongombo news!

§ July 10th, 2019 § Filed under indies § 3 Comments

…And how often do you see that headline on a website? Anyway, I’ve discussed Eye of Mongombo, the great and sadly uncompleted ’90s comic by Doug Gray a few times on the site before, starting waaaay back in 2003. I even heard from Mr. Gray his own self once or twice (either via email or comment, I can’t remember which now) that he planned on finishing the comic someday.

Well, that someday is today! Almost today, that is, if we can get the fella’s Kickstarter over the hump so that I…er, I mean, all of us can get the finished Eye of Mongombo product we all deserve! Planned as a series of three hardcovers, though digital formats are available as well if you’re one of those…future people.

I mean, okay, yes, it’s a “reboot,” basically retelling the story with new art and such, but I’ll take it! Any Eye of Mongombo is welcome, and if we can get the whole saga this time, I’ll be very happy. First chapter is available here.

Anyway, get yer hinders over there and pledge away…tell him Mike sent you! (And when he says “Mike who?” just kinda shrug and go “um, y’know, Mike.”)

Special thanks to pal Dorian for pointing this out to me. It made me so happy!

Surprise!

§ July 8th, 2019 § Filed under retailing § 4 Comments

[SPOILERS for The Walking Dead…the comic book, not the TV show or video games or action figures]

So I’d raised my orders a bit on The Walking Dead #193, after being blindsided like everyone else by the events of #192, in which the main character, the focus of the series, the guy who’s been in the story since that first issue, was killed off. When word on #192 got around, folks started popping by the store, calling, emailing, all asking for that #192, sold out immediately because most folks probably just ordered what they were going to order and that was that. No reason to bump up orders, but with #200 approaching I’m sure retailers had in the back of their minds the forthcoming necessity to puzzle out the vast array of variant covers that were sure to be offered.

Anyway, #192 sold out, I raised my order on #193 assuming some spillover in demand, plus the additional sales boost of a new printing of #192 that would be available at around the same time.

And then #193 came out, but not until after the news stories were released that Tuesday, just before New Comics Day, that surprise! The Walking Dead was coming to an end with that very issue.

Now I suppose that retailers were informed that our orders on #193 would be returnable was a vague hint that something special was happing, but my assumption was that the issue would be a follow-up on the main character’s death, and Image wanted folks to bump up sales to take advantage of the sudden increased interest in the title. No clue this was going to be the end of the series, especially given issues past #193 were solicited in the order catalog (a trick I didn’t like with Malibu’s Exiles, and didn’t much care for it now).

I do get the creator’s reasoning, wanting to preserve the surprise, to not want everything showing up on the coomic rack to be “safe” and “predictable.” As a comics fan, I can appreciate that, and even admire the commitment to one’s artistic expression. As a comics retailer, I just look at all the people coming in and calling and emailing and asking for the long sold-out issue and wondering how much money I could have made if I’d known this was the final installment of a popular, long-running series with a huge public profile.

Okay, in fairness, I don’t know that I would have ordered that much more, but I would have bought more than I did. And a significantly non-zero percentage of the people coming in looking for #193 are only going to be interested in first printings. Throwing a different “commemorative” cover on the reprint may help, which it did with the second print of #192, but I had several folks turn their noses up at the very idea of setting for the later editions. I know there’s no predicting whether or not 1) real world news outlets would cover it, and 2) if anyone not already buying comics would care, but I think for The Walking Dead I may have taken a chance.

Oh well, What Can You Do? Again, I’ve no problem with the decision to end the series…I have half a notion that of all the things that have “THE WALKING DEAD™” slapped on it, the monthly comic book series probably made the least money with the most effort, so if that were the case quitting that to focus on other product lines may be the best move. (Then again, the “If Daryl Dies, We Riot” lanyard likely isn’t the money-maker it once was either.) Plus, there’s enough material already extant, packaged in the extensive trade paperback line, which can be (and has been) repackaged in multiple formats to continue selling and reselling. I wonder how long it will be before the inevitable “all your favorite The Walking Dead stories…now in COLOR!” announcement comes along? I’m sure they say “no” now, but wait ’til the income flow dips a bit.

The larger point, and one I’ve made before on this site, and almost certainly will again, is that it can be hard ordering comics. You never know what’s going to be hot or not, until it’s the day before New Comics Day and everyone’s calling for copies of, oh, just to pick a random comic, Marvel Comics Presents #6, a series that barely sells on the shelf and is usually ordered accordingly and thus there’s no way to fill demand. And there’s a second printing coming but that’s not what the demand is for. It’s for that slabbale, eBay-able First Print. Hey, don’t get me wrong, if that’s how you want to enjoy the hobby, more power to you. I’m sometimes just caught off guard by what market forces deem “The Hot Item of the Week!” and it can be a little challenging.

I know there are websites and apps and such that try to inform collectors what the Next Big Deal is, but planning your store orders around that sort of thing may pay off once in a while, but could also require you to expand your storage space to accommodate more unsold product. Betting on “sure things” is not a reliable business model. I already went through 1990s comics retail once, and that was enough. It’s fine taking ordering risks, but I prefer to do so based on information I have, and on what my store can handle, rather than on the assumption that this first appearance, or that variant cover, is going to be picked as the week’s golden ticket, with demand above and beyond reasonable expectations. Thankfully, a number of my customers have been giving me more advance notice on what comics they want and how many of each (I mean, beyond just regular pull lists) and that’s been helping a lot.

So in conclusion…probably could have used more The Walking Dead #193. But that’s okay…everyeone’s moved on to calling and emailing about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #95.

“Yecch!” indeed.

§ July 5th, 2019 § Filed under mad magazine § 6 Comments


So as far as I’m able to tell, looking at the cover gallery on the Grand Comics Database, the above issue of MAD Magazine was the very first one I (or rather, my parents) purchased new off the rack. I was six years old. I picked up subsequent issues on a more or less regular basis up until the early 1980s, as well as getting several older issues either at used book stores or in that paper sack filled with older editions an uncle gave me (discussed here just back in March). And of course, I would pick it up now and again after that, even until relatively recently.

As I’m sure you’ve likely heard, MAD is ending its run of new material, going all-reprint and leaving the newsstands for solely comic-shop sales. According to the linked article, apparently end-of-year editions with new material are planned, and the reprint paperbacks and themed collections will continue. I guess that recent relaunch with a new first issue was a last-ditch attemnpt to save the magazine, and it didn’t work. I mean, sales went up on MAD a little for me, but it appears it didn’t improve enough across the boarde to save it.

This is terrible news. As I said on Twitter when I heard about this, MAD did a lot to teach children about how to spot bullshit in the world, letting them know that there are a whole lot of people, and companies, and products, and news organizations, and pretty much everything else in the world, all devoted to trying to pull a fast one on you. Yes, there were just plain ol’ jokes, too, but this was the first introduction to sometimes very biting satire a lot of children were exposed to, and it makes me sad that, even as MAD‘s influence has diminished over the years, that it won’t be here at all, at least as current, topical, and more relatable material that will educate children.

Not that there isn’t lots and lots of great (and still relevant) articles in MAD‘s near-70 years of publishing. And who knows, maybe today’s youth fill learn something about Nixon, and hippies, kind of like how I did reading my uncle’s old issues. A lot of the material is just straight-up funny, and timeless, and still absolutely worth reading. But the lack of freshness and topicality…that can’t help but hurt.

Let me tell you one thing from MAD that’s stuck with me all these years. I mean, literally, for decades. There was one of those features taking on product packaging by manufacturers who were trying to deceive you, the consumer, about the items they were trying to push on you. I don’t even recall the specifics of the whole article, or even who did it (I feel like it was Al Jaffee) but one of the gags was about how the wrapping on a candy bar would remain the same size, but the size of the candy bar itself would get progressively smaller as time went by. But, of course, you couldn’t tell because the cardboard holder the candy rested in was still at that larger size. When I saw that, it was like a light went on in my head, and I was all “hey…YEAH, WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?” That image came to mind every time I bought a candy bar, or essentially any food itew where the packaging size belied the actual goodies within.

It’s an unfortunate loss, but I feel like maybe, someday, a new batch of funny people wtih an askew vision will get a chance to bring it back, teaching kids how to critically view the world while simultaneously aggravating parents witih “this trash,” just like MAD always should. I prefer to think MAD isn’t gone, just resting, waiting to return to us in our time of greatest need. …Which is, you know, now, so I hope HAD hurries the hell up and comes back already.

After Swamp Thing, Sugar Plumm, and Krypto the Superdog.

§ July 3rd, 2019 § Filed under superman § 3 Comments

Look, I’ve had a long and troublesome Tuesday, where getting another injection in the eye was one of the few good things to happen, so for today let us just contemplate the fourth greatest character at DC Comics, the dread Kryptonian Thought Beast:


You know why the fans didn’t like that Man of Steel movie? None of these in it.

Have a good Fourth of July, where applicable, and I’ll see you after.
 
 

cover to Superboy #102 (January 1963) by Curt Swan and George Klein

At the very least, we need the full on Blue Devil action we deserve.

§ July 1st, 2019 § Filed under swamp thing, television § 8 Comments


So in episode 5 of DC Universe’s Swamp Thing, we get a character I certainly didn’t expect to see in live action in my lifetime…though to be fair, the last few years have been filled with plenty of instances of “didn’t expect to see that character in live action.” But here we are, with a somewhat more down-to-earth Phantom Stranger, though still with the hat and medallion, popping up in our favorite TV show about a hideous muck monster. (You can see a snippet on the YouTubers here 0 yes, I said “YouTubers.”) It looks like, at least in this episode, he’s taking up the John Constantine role, as he shows up in the show to help Swamp Thing understand some of his new abilities.

As much as I love seeing the Stranger appear (complete with Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” playing on his boat radio, for that additional DC mystery comic/ reference to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman goodness), it just adds to the frustration. I wrote about it at length last time I typed excessively about the show, but knowing there’s an premature end fast approaching leaves bit of a bad taste, as getting to see all these characters and situations play out over time is absolutely out of the question. I’ll enjoy what we get, I suppose, but it’s simply going to stand as a big ol’ lost opportunity.

Just so I’m not completely down about this episode, I will note that we got a lot of clear shots of the Swamp Thing get-up, and it does look quite nice. I’m glad they remembered Swamp Thing’s red eyes. It all certainly looks a lot better than the “soggy diaper that leaks” look of the costume in that first Swamp Thing movies in the early ’80s. I’ll even give this new costume the edge over Swampy’s look in the second film, mostly because of the “red eyes” thing.

Last Monday, on the service’s DC Daily talk/news show, they ran a graphic listing topics for episodes later in the week, and for Friday they had listed “MAD ABOUT SWAMP THING.” “Whoa,” I thought or at least saying I though for ease of describing my general non-verbal feeling at the time, “I wonder if the DC Daily show is going to address the whole ‘Swampy Got Canned’ sitch.” Given that the program is a promotional tool for the DC Universe service, and for DC publications, movies and other TV shows, it seemed unlikely we were going to see any hard-hitting investigative journalism regarding the abrupt cancellation. But still, that “MAD ABOUT SWAMP THING” title had me wondering.

Well, okay, as it turned out, it was folks from Mad Magazine riffing on Saga of the Swamp Thing #29, the first part of the “Arcane Returns” storyline, so it had nothing to do wtih the TV show at all. But I do wonder…you’d think eventually the show’s ending would have to be addressed, somehow. I just wonder how they’re going to do it while still maintaining a positive spin on the whole endeavor…or if maybe episode 10 rolls around, and the DC Daily is all “that was great! Can’t wait to see where it goes from here!” and just straight up never mention it again. It’s a tricky thing to handle, and it has me honestly curious about how they would go about approaching an admittedly difficult topic. …I still think just calling it a “mini-series” is still a good idea.

And reading Chris Ware comics was definitely out.

§ June 28th, 2019 § Filed under eyeball § 2 Comments

So for a while there, because of my eyeball situation, even aside from those moments of bits of blood from post-operative bleeding entering my eye, diffusing throughout it, and obscuring nearly all my vision, my ability to see things at a certain size was heavily curtailed. Now, for general things, like grading conditions of comics…okay, that was difficult, but on good eyeball days with proper lighting, I was able to do it.

The trick was reading the price guide. Even before the full extent of my eye health was clear to me, I was having trouble focusing on the tiny print in ye olde Overstreet. That’s what pushed me to finally buy a pair of simple reading glasses, about two years ago. They were pretty close to about as low-power as they come, +1.25, and that resolved the price guide pages to a nice non-blurry image.

Well, once the ol’ eyeball shenanigans hit in full force, that first pair of glasses didn’t do it any more. I slowly moved my way up to stronger and stronger lenses, picking up a variety of readers at the local dollar store, unable to get a real prescription until my vision problems settled down. Eventually, I had to resort to using a magnifying glass. And, eventually, in the most recent incident, where what was my good left eye had its own hemorrhage and I had to depend on my still-recovering-from-multiple-surgeries-and-already-weaker-to-begin-with right eye, I was barely able to see the prices on the page at all. I ended up having to use the camera function on my phone, hovering it over the page and zooming the picture in ’til I could read the text. Sometimes, I’d just take a photo and blow it up on the phone ’til I could read it, if I had a lot of pricing to do.

During all this, I could still see well enough to function, aside from, as I mentioned, those incidents were a small bit of blood would cloud the eye. But as I waited for my left eye to clear, my right eye was good enough to read prices on comics, see the register, grade stuff, read emails, watch television, tweet dumb stuff, blog dumb stuff, whatever. Wasn’t good enough to drive, and I depended on rides from my dad and my girlfriend to get to and from work, but what can you do.

However, I’m pleased to report that my left eye is finally just about recovered. There is still some mild hazy spots in there as the remaining blood continues to cycle out, but I’m back to being able to read the price guide again with just plain ol’ reader glasses (+2.50, but I’ll take it). And, at long last, I’m starting to read comics again.

Okay, not a whole lot…I spent a lot of time organizing the “to-read” stack I accumulated while my eyes were unable to absorb any four-color fun. This was on top of the unread stuff I’d sort of accumulated over the previous several months, as my reading speed steadily decreased due to my fading eyesight. But I did read a couple things.

A while back I read the new issue of Doomsday Clock, which I’d blogged about. Now that I pretty much had to do with a magnifying glass under a bright light to make out the lettering, so it was something of a chore. (Yes, yes, beyond the fact it was Doomsday Clock I was reading, I know.) But within the last couple of days, I did read on of those ’70s Charlton Popeyes I recently obtained, and I finally finished Heroes in Crisis (an story with good intentions, I think, but lots of “running in place” and a character development in the tradition of “let’s spend a decade or more trying to fix Hawkman/Hal Jordan”). I also read the opening pages of Superman: Year One, which I didn’t have time to finish right then, but will get back to it soon as I find the time. (Liked the opening sequence with Baby Kal-El’s perspective on the destruction of Krypton and flight to Earth…haven’t got to the bits everyone apparently hates yet.)

So anyway, I have lots of reading to catch up on. My eyesight went south just before that concluding issue of B.P.R.D.‘s long storyline, which I’d been looking forward to, and the last issue of Scooby Apocalypse, which I’m going to miss. Plus I”ve been missing all those Grant Morrison Green Lanterns…man, having eye troubles when you own a comic book store is the worst. I don’t recommend it.

Here’s hoping things continue to improve…and stabilize, so I can get some proper glasses. Until then…nobody spoil the last few issues of Justice League, since I’m way behind on that, too.

“Destruction of the Comic Book Universe” is a pretty good name.

§ June 26th, 2019 § Filed under watchmen § No Comments

So there I was, just searching the term “comic book” on the Amazon Music app, as one does, when this came up:


Now I realize this may not be new to some of you, but given that my musical awareness pretty much had an expiration date of sometime in the early 1990s, this 2015 release from Jahmbi featuring a design inspired by Watchmen was a surprise to me.

Their Facebook page describes their sound as “METAL (Experimental),” and you can see just how experimental by trying a sample here. You may want to keep your speakers turned down low until you can gauge the volume of what is about to ensue.

Anyway, just one more thing to note in the ongoing list of strange Watchmen ephemera.

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