Eye’ve got you, babe.

§ December 14th, 2018 § Filed under nightmare fuel § 8 Comments

SPECIAL EYEBALL UPDATE: the eye surgery went well, despite looking like this for a few hours after the event:


After a post-op check-up on Thursday, it looks like I’m well on my way to healing up and being back in stereoscopic action before you know it. However, it is going to take some time for that eye to clear up as it heals from the recent medical intrusions. So, in the meantime, since having one good eye and one eye’s vision temporarily obscured is a bit distracting, if not outright headache inducing, you may catch me at the store looking a little something like this:


Look, it was either that or squeezing my right eye shut for hours at t time. I mean, yes, I know, it’s good enough for Popeye, but friends, I am no Popeye. I’m not really much of a Nick Fury, either…more “nearly forgotten David Hasselhoff TV version” than “far cooler Samuel Jackson version.”

Anyway, thanks for all your good thoughts and well-wishes, here, on Twitter, via email and otherwise. I appreciate it all, and I should be back into regular blogging action next week.

SO BEGINS…THE EYE-ENING.

§ December 10th, 2018 § Filed under low content mode, sick day § 6 Comments


Today’s the big day, so please enjoy this soothing comic cover while I’m getting the inside of my eyeball hosed out. Think good thoughts about my peepers if you can, and I’ll see you, presumably, in about a week or so. Thanks for reading!
 
 

Mister Mystery #12 (July 1953) – art by Bernard Baily

“Save vs. hemorrhaged eye.”

§ December 7th, 2018 § Filed under question time § 4 Comments

Let’s get a few more questions answered here, before I go under the knife and I’m away for the week:

Cassandra Miller foresees

“Who’s right about the Lucky Dime, Magica or Scrooge?”

Ooh, a good question. The Lucky Dime AKA the Number One Dime is, of course, the first dime Uncle Scrooge ever earned, which Magica De Spell believes has imbued it with some mystical essence she could exploit for her own nefarious purposes. As I recall, Scrooge’s own belief in its “magic” comes and goes depending on the story, but in general it’s a highly personal symbol of the wealth that followed.

Given that the main “canon” of Scrooge, as presented by Carl Barks, tends to generally hew towards the “real” mundane world and away from more fanciful explanations, I would say that Scrooge is more correct, more or less. It’s true that “magic” and “luck” and other weirdo stuff exists in the Duckiverse, and there are times when Scrooge is parted from his Lucky Dime and suddenly everything just goes to hell for him, but I would say Scrooge’s fortune arose without any supernatural advantage from ownership of that dime. It simply served as an inspiration for Scrooge, and any of his difficulties that arose from losing said dime were likely psychological in nature, losing an old crutch he depended on to support his financial endeavors.

I’m sure there are comics and TV shows and such I haven’t read that directly contradicts the above, but I think the ultimate answer is, as always, “depends on the needs of the plot.”

• • •

Skyintheairwaves swoops in with

“Mad Magazine has been a ‘thing’ that has seen many phases and highs and lows. But it has a place in so many of our consciousnesses.

What has been the heyday of Mad for you?”

Kind of like how the “Golden Age of comics” is described “whatever you were reading when you were a kid,” what I think of when I consider the definite era of Mad is what I read in the 1970s and very early ’80s. I still think of issues from, say, 1984 as “those newer Mads.” Pretty sure this was during the publication’s era of its largest print runs, so just by sheer numbers this may be the definitive version for most people, featuring the classic cartoonists and features that comprise the Platonic ideal of a Mad.

I was exposed to earlier Mad, mostly thanks to an uncle who passed his copies down to me…but mostly still within the ’70s, from the earlier part of the decade as opposed to the latter half where I was getting my hands on them, but were still mostly the same (but with more gags about Nixon and hippies). It was when I got my hands on the occasional copy of an early ’60s era issue, where it was like “Dave Berg’s art looks different, and where are the Marginals, and why are there weird jokes written in the margins instead?” — they just felt slightly off to me. Recognizably Mad, just not my Mad.

• • •

Rob Staeger stages the following

“What novel that has never gotten a comic book adaptation do you think deserves one?”

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation. I mean, like, the whole thing. The trilogy, the prequel, the follow-ups, the novels from other Asimovian franchises that tie in, the whole enchilada. You thought the comic book adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand was a mountain of a project? Wait ’til you get a load of this. In some parallel universe, adapting all of Asimov’s novels into comic book form is the sole purpose and publishing concern of Positronic Comics, Inc.

• • •

Andrew Davison sneaks in with

“Do you visit other comic book establishments to see how they do things? What disguises do you normally use? A rubber mask, a la Mission Impossible, or stage makeup and wig, a la 50’s Batman?”

One time, very early on, a fella that used to shop at our store opened up a store in a neighboring town (long gone…the store, not the town). Just out of curiosity, I popped in to take a look and see what was goin’ on, but not with any specific plan to see what his display or marketing strategies or whatever. Later we heard that he was talkin’ up the fact that “oh yeah, a guy from the other store checked me out, they must be worried!” so I kind of put an end to that.

In the years since, particularly on the rare occasion I was out of town, I’d drop by other stores, mostly to shop for myself, and to some limited extent to see what they’re carrying and how it’s laid out and sometimes think how lucky our customers were they weren’t shopping at this store. Haven’t done that in a long time.

Nowadays, if I’m going to other shops, they’re usually shops run by people I actually know, and if I’m there, I’m either doing some horsetrading, or just saying “hi,” or picking up some of my UPS shipment from Diamond that got misrouted to the wrong comic store (which happened at least once in recent months). Thus, I’m otherwise occupied and not really there to steal…comic secrets. Or…am I?

• • •

philfromgermany drops in the last question for today

“Considering the TWERPS shout-out you must have at least a passing knowledge of pen & paper D&D and their ilk.

“Have you ever read any Knights of the Dinner Table and if so, who’s your favorite character?

“Is it selling at your store?”

Phil is referring to this post, where I dropped in a reference to Twerps, the simple and bargain-priced role-playing game that used only one die, and utilized characters with only one stat (Strength). We sold quite a a few of these at my previous place of employment, though I wonder how many sold because people just wanted the small-sized 20-sided die included with the game.

While RPGs aren’t my particular passion, I do have some familiarity with them simply from my years of carrying large stocks of them at the old job. Plus, I sold a lot of vintage gaming materials on eBay when they showed up in collections (some of which you can see in this site category). I don’t do anything in new gaming materials currently at my shop, but I wouldn’t object to dealing in more of the old items. I always found those fun.

Knights of the Dinner Table does sell at my store…not a lot, but it has its fans. If I had to pick a favorite character…well, Brian is just so hilariously single-minded when it comes to gaming, but Bob is just plain bonkers. It’s hard to choose!

• • •

Okay, pals, don’t forget I’m taking the next week off from the site following my eye procedure, so I’ll see you on the other side!

“Suddenly, fifteen years later….”

§ December 5th, 2018 § Filed under suddenly... § 10 Comments

Yup, I have officially spent half of my comics retailing career blogging about comics in my free time, because clearly I wasn’t getting enough comics in my diet during regular business hours.

A big, big thanks to all of you folks out there in comics internet land who still read my site, even though there are more popular options than ol’ archaic blogging for wasting one’s time online pursuing funnybook material. But I’m still at it, and if you’re reading this, you’re still at it too, and for that I am very grateful.

Special thanks of course to my family, and my long-suffering girlfriend Nora, who have put up with the shame of not only having a blogger in their lives, but a blogger who owns a comic shop, too. OH, THE DISGRACE.

And as always, special thanks to my other pop culture blogging comrades-in-arms, both active and retired…and especially to Comics Blogger Numero Uno, Neilalien, but more about that character later.

So, this year…speaking of my store, it’s had its fourth anniversary, and I’m still open and selling comics and gaining and maintaining a customer base, and so that’s been working out pretty well for me, thankfully! This was also the year I marked my 30th anniversary of selling comic books for a living, which is about as startling to me as it probably is to you. Well, I guess it’s too late to enter that career as a deep sea diver…guess I’m stuck doing this.

The other big event this year was my ongoing issue with my health, where, after years of, well, not being very good to myself, everything finally started catching up to me. However, with some changes in diet and lifestyle, which were much easier than I expected they would be, I’ve managed to improve my health, lose weight, and just generally feel a heck of a lot better. I do have a lingering vision thing which is going to be directly addressed in just a few days (as I wrote about here) so with any luck that will be resolved (or well on its way to being resolved) soon, too.

Those changes in lifestyle don’t mean that I’ve slowed down in goofing off on the Twitters, where I talk about making sure my customers know where I stand on cinematic history:


…Or apparently puzzling them with my honesty:


Frankly, I think my idea here is brilliant and not at all disrespectful:


Sometimes my interactions with folks who walk in the door at my shop leave me wondering just where all the time has gone:


Of course, the passage of time has altered my involvement with my own passions:


The downside of owning a comic shop is, of course, that the collecting impulse never goes away:


My most popular (faved ‘n’ retweeted) tweet of the year was this one, where some people appeared to seriously think I was actually going to do this to my public-serving brothers and sisters:


But my favorite Twitter moment was getting my entry about watching Firestorm’s debut on the Super Friends cartoon retweeted by Firestorm cocreator Gerry Conway:


But it wasn’t just the Twitters where you could find my wit and wisdom…no friends, there was plenty of that right here, on this very web page you’re looking at right now. Amongst the usual Ends of Civilization and Sluggo Saturdays you could find the following entries for your education and delight:

DECEMBER 2017

I could have just rerun this same post a couple of weeks ago, I love blowing up background details like this, Cathy and Andrew – two great tastes that go great together, the ol’ “Photoshop this scan” thingie didn’t over like they used to do in ye olden blogging tymes but I still like it and it’s season appropriate again.

JANUARY 2018

Naked on the cutting nude room floor, for the love of God pick up your comic pulls at your local shop, I mean seriously a Superman series by Todd McFarlane would make all the money, I’LL GET YOU GILBERT GOTTFRIED FANS!!!

FEBRUARY 2018

Hey it’s the too-long Doomsday Clock review you were looking for, next best thing to a Sluggo Saturday is a Sluggo Valentine, they’re still drawing the cuffs but it’s almost totally an afterthought at this point, I dive deep on IDW’s Popeye variants, reboots and restarts and wedding specials oh my.

MARCH 2018

Sure here’s a page from the Pac-Man Activity Book, in which I totally solve the problem of comics numbering for all time…well okay I don’t, I still have plans for this site — BIG plans, my late birthday post (and oh crap I’m 50 next year…also I’m totally right about that jacket the dude in Krypton is wearing), oh yeah remember when we were all into trading cards, FOOLED BY A FAKE NO-PRIZE, Swampy toys and games, so they fixed the typo in the paperback but went and did the very same thing again.

APRIL 2018

Don’t forget my pal Kurt’s podcast, some prerelease Fantastic Four talk, Land of the Lost talk turns into the worst idea for a comic gimmick, the Secret Origin of Siri, really guys it was more than a thousand issues at that point, Sluggo has some words for people who don’t dig the new Nancy strip, more of that pog content you crave, I need a full run of this or a deluxe reprint hardcover right now.

MAY 2018

Your pre-Free Comic Book Day pep talk, and my pep talk after, and some more FCBD follow-up, so as it turns out that eye didn’t clear up on its own and I’m having surgery on it next week, some Magoos (1 2 3) and some doctors (1 2 3), Popeye’s terrible secret.

JUNE 2018

The scarcity of Miracleman #15 (and follow-up and more follow-up), the new Hulk comic is good, ordering comics then and now, s whole lotta war books, I give up pronounce “Constantine” however you’d like, good gravy back away from the camera Namor, a recent dive into DC animation, so long Harlan.

JULY 2018

The most patriotic Popeye ever, boy I sure was subtle with my Batman #50 commentary (and follow-up), so long Steve, those Walmart comics NOT DIGESTS (and what I thought of them once I actually had some in my hands), making the (comics) grade, boy this Titans show sure loves the f-word, I had a dumb Twitter joke go semi-viral (and also, more Batman #50 follow-up), MORE JUPITER COMICS HURRAH!

AUGUST 2018

Kirby + Ditko + Abominable Snowman = awesome, yeah we’re never getting a new reprint of this story, thia Popeye comic wasn’t entirely what I expected but it was still pretty great anyway, and just how were we exposed to Popeye anyhoo, the origin of Mike the Comics Retailin’ Man, Brother Power the Plant Elemental, it’s more Death of Superman talk – how do I do it, and then I go on about Knightfall, the great Jon Bogdanove.

SEPTEMBER 2018

THIRTY YEARS OF BEING IN COMICS RETAIL, here we go with the Death of Superman again, I’m glad to see the rest of the world is catching up to my love of Nancy and Sluggo, more old comics promo stuff, and even more, DC Universe streaming is giving me a revised opinion of Super Friends cartoons – they’re actually good, more DC Universe talk, this is the worst title for a discussion about Batman: Damned, the unexpected Dennis the Menace Winchester Mystery House variant, so long Norm.

OCTOBER 2018

The only Doomsday Clock #7 review you’ll read where it says “a good year for penises at DC Comics,” the best West Coast Avengers cover, probably spent more time defining parameters than I did providing answers, the scintillating sounds of Swamp Thing, let your freak British flag fly, I secured the site so much that I broke images in feeds — still working on it!

NOVEMBER 2018

Come for the Badger fan film, stay for MY GIANT HAND, catching up on comics I missed back in the ’80s, somehow I got away with writing an entire post about assembling comic boxes, so long Stan, MY GIANT HAND in exciting live video, I’m still getting a boatload of emails about this screen-used prop comic, if only I’d known I could have cornered the market on this rare catalog I assembled nearly decades ago, direct sales vs. newsstand variants talk.

DECEMBER 2018

Er, yeah, pretty much just my “eye problems” post.

Again, let me thank all of you for coming to this site of mine, whether you jumped on board today, or whether you were there on day one (and I know there’s a few of you still in that latter category). It’s been a lot of fun doing this, and I plan on continuing to do it as long as you’ll have me.

For reading all that, let me present to you Neilalien’s tribute to my 15th anniversary, including his funny tweet:


…the redesign of his profile page:

…and the redesign of his own website:


Well, shucks. That Neilalien is a swell cat.

Thanks, pals, and I’ll be back with more goodies in short order.

A brief note regarding the next couple of weeks.

§ December 3rd, 2018 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin § 15 Comments

There’s going to be some Low Content Mode action (or rather, non-action) for the next two weeks at Progressive Ruin Dot Oxnard Dot Gov, as I’m going to be going in for that eye surgery that all the kids are raving about these days. This Monday, as this post goes up, I’ll be having an early morning check-up, just to make sure I won’t croak on the operating table, and then the following Monday I’ll be having a breakfast serving of a vitrectomy, which is just as much fun as it sounds. I’m told it’s a very routine procedure, and I’ll barely notice it happening as it’s happening, thanks to the “happy juice” (as the doctor calls it) that’ll be in my system, so let’s hope.

Anyway, what does this mean for you, the Progressive Ruin reader, aside from the nausea after Googling “vitrectomy?” It means a short post today, which you’re reading right now, presumably…then I’ll likely post on Wednesday and Friday as normal. Then next week, after the operation, don’t expect a whole lot. I’ll try to check in if I’m up to it, but otherwise, consider it a vacation from my usual yapping.

Also, most tragically, I’m probably skipping the End of Civilization post this month. Yeah, I know, I’m sorry, but I’m just not finding the proper time to get one in there right now…but we’ll see as we get closer to Christmas, when traditionally everyone has plenty of free time on their hands.

So that’s that…I figure getting the fluids changed in my eyeball is a good enough reason to slack off on the site a bit. I’ll be back up and running as normal in short order, I’m sure, so thanks for reading, pals, and I’ll see you again…hopefully with two working eyes, finally…soon enough!

Oh great, I’m going to have to make sure I have both the direct and newsstand editions of all my Swamp Thing comics.

§ November 30th, 2018 § Filed under batman, collecting, retailing § 3 Comments

So I may have been a little quick to dismiss the whole “direct market vs. newsstand editions” thing from the other day. Let’s start with this comment emailed to me by Reader John:

“I wanted to add another distinction in the direct market vs newsstand discussion. It’s my understanding that some collectors (or perhaps they’re speculators) prefer newsstand copies released after 1988 or so because of a belief that the newsstand copies are rarer and thus more valuable (especially in higher grades since those tend to get mangled on the racks as you pointed out on Twitter). You can see this in the asking prices of auctions for Spawn #1 on eBay.

“Personally, I think it’s ridiculous that whether a comic has a UPC or an ad/Spidey head in a white box on the cover can affect the value of that book. For that matter, I also think that the presence of a jewelry ad insert should not add value to a comic either, but apparently some collectors do.

“Interestingly, there is one small subset where a logo instead of an UPC is considered more valuable by certain collectors. In the mid 90’s, after DM copies had UPC’s, DC did some multipacks sold outside of the direct market. The comics included in these had a DC Universe logo in the UPC box. I once had someone offer me $100 for an issue of pre-Zero Hour Legionnaires (I don’t think it was even one of the Adam Hughes covers, but I might be wrong.) just because of that logo!

“Off the record, I took his $100 and used it to purchase several mid-grade silver age Adventure issues.

“Thank you for taking the time to read this!”

Some of these points were also brought up by other commenters on Wednesday’s post, and Thelonious_Nick pointed out this page on the Mile High Comics site which goes into detail regarding their handling of newsstand comic pricing. And the reason I even mentioned it on Twitter in that link I edited into John’s comment above was that, totally coincidentally, one of my regular customers brought up the very topic to me at the shop, mentioning how newsstand editions are often harder to find in higher conditions due to poor customer handling and/or lack of attention from the sellers, as opposed to stores run by annoyances like me who are all “AUGH! Don’t bend the comics!”

As John noted, I just haven’t had that much experience with folks specifically looking for newsstand editions versus the direct market editions (specifically those just differing in their UPC codes or lack thereof). That’s just a clientele I haven’t noticed over the years, and as I’ve repeatedly reminded any of you who happen to glance my way, I’ve been doing this for many, many years. Okay, it could be collectors are seeing those out on the sly, not cluing in your pal Mike that’s what they’re after in the off-chance I’d decide to bump up the price on said books (…who, me?). But after all this time I figure at least someone would put in a request like that, pulling a comic out of the bins and asking “do you have the newsstand version of this?”

Also brought up in the comments by Nicholas is the fact that sometimes the direct market editions of certain comics would have some extra art ‘n’ such in the UPC box, replacing the missing UPC code. Usually it would be filled with company-promoting slogans like “The New DC! Stop Us Before We Kill Again” or “Have You Read This Crossover Yet? C’mon, What, You’re Too Good for It?” But as was mentioned as an example, Todd McFarlane would often fill the UPC box with extra bits of art, which could make the direct editions a little more appealing to the Spidey fan.

This has given me something to think about, or at least pay closer attention to, as you might imagine. I’ve spent a long time with the assumption stuck in my head that there’s no real difference between the two versions if the only difference is the presence of a UPC code. Well, I guess that isn’t necessarily the case. I don’t know that I’ll be going through and raising prices on my newsstand variations, but at least now I’m a little more aware of the phenomenon.

• • •

I saw discussion here and there online that it’s the 30th anniversary of the whole “Death of Robin” call-in-and-vote Batman thing, and I just wanted to point out that this was the first major regular-public-attracting comics event I had to deal with from behind the counter, rather than as a the mere mortal comics fan I was just a few mere weeks prior. I think I’ve spoken before about how I don’t have quite the recall of this hoohar that I do of the not-that-much-later “Death of Superman,” but I certainly remember the phone calls and the concerned walk-ins and so on. Speaking of newsstand versus direct editions, the version of Batman #427 had the phone number to call to vote on Robin’s fate, and the newsstand edition didn’t. Either version still flies out the door, regardless.

“Not to be morbid,” he says.

§ November 28th, 2018 § Filed under question time § 5 Comments

So I need to get back to your questions, but first, let me address the one left for me recently by JohnJ on this post:

“The two versions of Sgt.Rock #400 cover prompt me to ask you this question, have you ever had a customer who preferred newsstand covers versus direct market? Someone who thought that what was in the UPC box made a substantial difference to the comic?
I know one retailer who thinks newsstand covers triple the price on back issues and wondered how you stood on that difference.”

By and large, I don’t think there’s a significant difference. If there is a difference in price and collectability, it’s generally the result of something other than just the UPC code or lack thereof. Like, cover image differences (such as the Spider-Man/Mary Jane wedding issue, though honestly I haven’t looked at compared prices/demand on those in a while). I think some of the early Image releaes had newsstand editions that were a little harder to find in the direct market (like Spawn and WildC.A.T.s ) with UPC codes and, I believe, different paper stock on the covers. There was a little demand for those once upon a time (particularly the non-foil covered newsstand edition of WildC.A.T.s #2) but I haven’t had anyone ask about those lately.

I mean, I don’t know…it hasn’t really come up too much, and I’ve sold a lot of back issues to a lot of people over the last three decades. Aside from situations like the above, where there’s an actual difference between the two versions, I haven’t had anyone just wanting the covers with Spidey’s face in the little white box instead of a bunch of lines and numbers. But, you know, to each his own.

Okay, back to the salt mines! ExistentialMan gets existential, man, with this:

“So, you’ve been doing this comicbookin’ retail thing for quite a while now. Although it’s clearly kept you virile, young-looking, and famously wealthy, I’m curious about your plans for the future and, eventually, retirement. I’ve ssen a number of retailers retire over the years (most of them very successfully). Do you envision calling it quits at a certain age?”

Well, I don’t know if I’ll ever straight up retire, unless my business suddenly becomes The One Comic Book Store Left Standing and I’m suddenly carrying away buckets of cash to the bank. Instead, I suspect I’ll keep my hand in, turning over day-to-day operations to a trusted employee, or robot, while still drawing income as the evil taskmaster of the business. I can’t imagine I’ll be behind the counter forever and ever until…well, not to be morbid, but I want to go off to that great Comic Book Convention in the, um, let’s say Sky in the comfort of my own bed, not sprawled out over a pile of X-O Manowars I was in the process of bagging.

• • •

Dave Carter asks Yet Another question:

“As a comic shop owner, what do you see as the biggest challenge for your retail establishment over the next year? Over the next five years?”

The biggest thing is just trying to maintain sales in the face of publisher shenanigans, as relaunch after reboot after renumbering erodes consumer confidence. Plus, the rising prices of the periodical format is always going to be an issue…I don’t think the periodical comic is going away, or even really on the verge of changing that much, but I feel like folks are really at their limit as to how much they’re willing to spend for a single issue. And I don’t think the Big Two, especially Marvel, are ready for a trade-only model. Whatever change that’ll happen is going to be a rough one to ride out.

Aside from that, there are the more practical concerns…rising costs of simply running the business (rent and utilities ain’t goin’ down), increased competition from new shops, an economy that’s all over the map, the fragility of my own human body…you know, cheery stuff like that.

• • •

Patrick Gaffney pours out

“Who can drink more? Thor or Hulk?”

We know, from our studies at Stan Lee University, that the madder Hulk gets, the stronger he gets, so there’s some sort of energy source that exists within him to fuel this increase in his capabilities. Like, there’s this giant radioactive engine inside him, powered by that long-ago Gamma Bomb burst, that flares hotter with Hulk’s emotions. I believe the Official Marvel Universe Handbook has noted that “there could be no upper limit” to this rise in strength. So, as his anger increase, the radiation-borne effects in his body increase, generating more energy, and presumably anything the Hulk would have consumed would probably go toward feeding this upward output. Thus, assuming Hulk is in an agitated enough state, I could see any drink he imbibed being immediately converted to bolster his physical abilities.

But then again, Thor is magic, which could supersede my 100& entirely scientific explanation. So let me go to the fallback answer…”depends on whose comic the drinking contest appears in.”

“I’m a collectible!”

§ November 26th, 2018 § Filed under retailing, Uncategorized § 1 Comment

So anyway, I was just Googling around (“mike+handsomest+comic+shop+fella”) when I happened upon this:


Yes, that’s a back issue catalog that I put together and mailed out way back in ye olden tymes of my funnybook selling days at Ralph’s Comic Corner. And that’s all it was…despite being described as a “catalog/fanzine” in the list, and despite Bully’s wishes for inclusion of my Swamp Thing fan-fiction, it’s just titles, issue numbers, grades, prices, and where to contact us to purchase said items.

That had almost completely slipped my mind that we even did that. I am curious about the 1990 date on it, however…I seem to recall assembling this catalog from the files we used to list comics on our then-fledgling website, but 1990 seems awfully early, considering the World Wide Web was only available for surfing in 1989. Maybe I’m thinking of a second mail order catalog we put together? And assuming that seller there has the correct date listed, of course.

The actual domain name “ralphscomiccorner.com” was acquired in 1998, according to the WHOIS data, and that sounds about right. But prior to that, we just had our 5 megs or whatever of webspace with our local internet provider. I remember we were all pretty proud of securing our space online with that initial website, and had a big banner printed out with “http://www.fishnet.net/~ralphs” hanging in the store, extolling all our customers to go visit. I seem t remember we were one of the first comic shops to have a web page…Ralph has often said that at the time he went looking to see what other shops were doing, and he had trouble finding any, so we must have been up and running on the web quite early. Exactly how early, I can’t recall, though.

I’m sure I still have the original files for this catalog on a floppy disc somewhere…the problem here of course being “a floppy disc.” I did back up a bunch of floppy files to CDRs and DVD-Rs, but these didn’t seem to make it. It’s a bunch of documents for the old Mac desktop publishing program Ready Set Go, Version 4.5, so I’d probably have trouble opening ’em up anyway with whatever nonsense I have on my computer now. But I could at least look at the file creation dates and figure out just when I did this thing. Oh, if only I was blogging back in the early ’90s, but I was too busy being EXTREME.

Oh, and I keep meaning to mention the format of the catalog…at the time, old pal Rob and I were still doing the comics ‘zine thing, mostly in the format of 8 1/2 by 11 inch pieces of paper folded in half and stapled, with a thicker outer cover (as seen here). So, we were old hands at making up little booklets like this, and the catalog was essentially in the Wood-Eye format, only with fewer naughty jokes. Yes, I do believe some paste-up was involved…printing out the listings page by page, cutting ’em up, pasting them into our work copy, and then taking the whole shebang to the local printers and begging them to make it look purty.

So anyway, that’s that…I’m tempted to ask Ralph if he still has the mock-up so I could borrow it and print up a whole bunch more copies and make my fortune in the fanzine market. But I will ask him if he can remember when we first put up our earliest website…the online web archive only started saving webpages sometime in the mid 1990s or so. My own early website, Progressive Ruin 1.0, is archived starting in 1999, but my “What’s New” page (essentially a proto blog) started in ’96, so I’m still not sure how far back the store’s page went.

But there you go…if you want any early examples of my comics writing, it’s yours for around $50 at that link at the beginning of this post. A bargain at any price!

I mean, technically this would be graded…what, Fair? Poor? It’s certainly not coverless.

§ November 22nd, 2018 § Filed under retailing § 5 Comments

So on Wednesdat a gentleman came to my store to show me this comic which he’d acquired from an estate sale:


He had no luck identifying it, or finding it in a price guide, or in online auctions. Asking around, he was advised to take it to me, which was nice to hear, frankly, and boy, it puzzled me, too. You can follow my progress in this Twitter thread, where I put the word out to my online pals if they had any info on the item, but let me present to you in slightly less confused fashion what I observed about this item.

First, that’s a Mike Vosburg image, which I’ll give you a better look at here:


I wasn’t a watcher of the Tales of the Crypt HBO show, but I learned that Mr. Vosburg worked on the program, providing ersatz Tales from the Crypt comic book covers for use in the episodes which would reflect that installment’s story.

Next, I noticed that the cover image was in fact a separate piece of paper glued over the cover of the comic, which was a copy of Vault of Horror from the Russ Cochran reprint line (#4 from 1993, specifically…thanks, still visible copyright info on the inside front cover!).

The most curious thing about the comic was that, affixed into the middle of the book, was an extra page featuring a sequence of panels that clearly were not in the style of the classic EC comics:

Now, my initial thought was that the comic was some kind of print sample used by the publisher, maybe, or a prop from the TV show. However, looking at some of the episodes online, Vosburg’s cover illustrations were usually presented as being pages in a dusty tome the Crypt Keeper would open and show the audience, and not as an actual comic book.

Posing this observation to my Twitter feed, it was pal Plastic Soul what gave the fateful clue in his response, suggesting that it was used in Demon Knight, the Tales from the Crypt spin-off feature film. And sure enough, looking at a not-great copy of the opening sequence on the YouTubes, I determined that, in all likelihood, this comic I’m holding in my gentle and dainty hands is the very same one used in the movie:

Freeze-framing the video, the comic pages definitely match up between the film and the item in my possession, with the clincher being the end bit where the extra page of art is shown leading directly into the film’s story.

Now, I suppose some EC Comics superfan may have cobbled this together on his own, printing out the pic from Mr. Vosburg’s website abd doing his/her own mock-up, but that seems unlikely. Also, given what details I know about where the comic was obtained, I’m pretty sure this is The Real Thing. The current owner of this comic should be forwarding some documentation to me regarding his purchase of the item, so I should have more details shortly. Which I’ll need, since we’ve come to an agreement that I’ll be selling this for him. So watch the eBay skies!

One interesting note: the extra page of art is attached to and covering up another page of extra art. It seems to show more ore less the same sequence of events, just with some different staging. Wish I could get a good picture of it without tearing pages, becase I guess in a weird kinda-squint-right way this is a previously undiscovered alternate take for the film! Okay, it’s just production art, but hey, you didn’t know about it!

Anyway, this is one oddball item to have just fall into my lap like this. Definitely a unique piece of EC Comics history.

ADDENDUM 11/22/18: I received a comment elsewhere from someone who’s confused two different prop comics that are featured in the film. The comic in my possession is the one that appears in the first few minutes…as pictured in the GIF above, the pages are flipped, landing on the newly inserted artwork which then leads into the movie proper. There is a second, different, prop comic that appears much later in the film, featuring other inserted Vosburg pages, which you can see at the bottom of this page. I don’t have that second comic…it’s probably being held by my evil alternate universe counterpart, the one with the goatee.

ADDENDUM 2: Oh, and the comic apparently came from this estate sale.

Yes, I know the URL for the video ends in “Jerk” — I’m trying not to take it personally.

§ November 19th, 2018 § Filed under video § 3 Comments


Gee, it only took me eleven years to do another one.

Anyway, the other day I was showing the niece and nephew the “Dancing Groots” video (WARNING: OBNOXIOUS) on my phone, and after it was over my niece immediately swiped or touched or whatevered the app to see what other videos I had. And, lo and behold, there were the first two Half-Minute Mikester vids.

After watching those (and kind of cringing at the reference to the long-ago crotch-roversy over this Alex Ross cover that maybe my niece and nephew shouldn’t have heard), I thought “well, you know, maybe it’ll be fun to try doing that again, only maybe in my store and not in the laundry room at my house.” And, thus, there you go, “Half-Minute Mikester #2,” the third installment in the series because I thought I’d be cute and start with #0, just like the big funnybook publishers.

Nowadays the process seems a lot less involved in actually getting the videos out into the world…before I had to download the video from the digital camera, upload it to YouTube, wait for it to be processed, blah blah. Now on my phone, with just a little clicky-clicky, you get my dynamic action and mellifluous voice coming right at you directly out of your devices in your very own home and/or office. Yes, Old Man Mike is excited about this newfangled technology all you kids are into.

Another plus side to using the phone: the reason they were “Half-Minute” was because that the was limit of the digital camera I was using. I think maybe 40 seconds tops. Now I guess I’m just limited to however many gigabytes are this phone…and seems weird just calling it “a phone,” but I suppose “tricorder” is taken. I don’t know if that means you’ll be seeing two-hour widescreen comics-reviewing epics from me at some point in the future, since about 30 to 40 seconds is about as long as I can talk in one burst without tripping over my tongue (and it’s not like it didn’t take me a dozen tries just to get through the thing).

But at the very least I do plan on doing more videos, not just for blogging purposes but as a promotional thing for my store (that store being Sterling Silver Comics in beautiful Camarillo, CA). Maybe I’ll even show my face in one or two of them, so consider that your fair warning.

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