Stan Lee (1922 – 2018).

§ November 12th, 2018 § Filed under obituary § 1 Comment


As I recall, The Comic Reader got in a few letters of comment regarding this cover from 1980, where some folks didn’t appreciate the April Fool’s shenanigans. But I’ll tell you, the second I heard the news today, this was the very first thing that came to mind.

Well, we had Stan around a few decades longer than that gag image above would have had you believe, and I know there’s some discussion within the fandom and the industry about what exactly his legacy is. But, for the public at large, he was comics, and generally a positive representative for the medium. People liked Stan, and they liked to see him, and by extension that improved the perception of comics as a whole, I think. That’s not a bad thing.

And, in collaboration with spectacular artistic talent like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he wrote some of the best comic books ever published, and helped redefine just what a comic book was and what it could do. I’ve said before that the Thing isn’t just one of the greatest characters in comics, but straight-up one of the greatest characters in fiction, and it was Stan’s voice in combination with Jack’s pen that brought that ol’ bashful Benji to life. For that alone, Stan (and of course Jack) would deserve immortality.

I wish his final years had been a bit easier on him, but at the very least I think he knew how many people loved him and his creations.

So long, Stan.

“Knowing which flaps to fold in, in which order” is pretty much advice for everything in life.

§ November 12th, 2018 § Filed under retailing § 3 Comments

So I was putting together some of those fancypants comic book short boxes for display…you know, the ones with the graphics printed on them as opposed to just the plain white boxes you normally see…when I got to thinking.

I’ve noticed over the years, the many, many years I’ve been at this, that when someone first comes across a comic box for the first time in its flattened form, it can be a little puzzling to figure out just how to assemble it. I mean, okay, it’s not like the Hodge conjecture or anything, but it can be easy to start folding the wrong bits first during a first attempt at putting one of these boxes together.

Anyway, the thing I was thinking about, beyond “I wonder how many hundreds, if not thousands, of these boxes I’ver personally assembled over the years,” was “how did people out there first learn how to make one of these?” And thus, I attempted to discover the answer using that most solid of statistical tools, the Twitter poll:


As you can see (or maybe not see, as I’m still trying to fix the images-not-loading-in-RSS-feeds thing…will be working again soon, I hope!), the majority of respondents openly lied informed me that they puzzled out these cardboard contraptions on their own. Only a third as many had to have somebody show ’em, and a just a bit less than that don’t know how to do it at all (more on that later).

Like I said, putting these boxes together isn’t enormously difficult, so it doesn’t really surprise me that the first option was the one that received the most votes. But I’m still surprised that the “someone showed me” result was so relatively small. Just from my experience selling comics and related accessories for decades, the next question after someone asks to buy their first comic box is usually “how do you make this thing work?” And that’s not a criticism or a comment on their skills or anything…I perfectly understand that a person may decide from the get-go “rather than waste time trying to figure out how it works myself, I’ll save the effort and just have this nice young gentleman with the flowing mane of beautiful blond hair show me how to do it properly right off.”

And really, it’s no problem. It’s just a matter of knowing which flaps to fold in, and in which order. Someone responded to my poll, noting they learned from the box itself, which had printed instructions, something I forgot to consider since I hadn’t seen one of those in years. I don’t know…for some reason, I was picturing this as arcane nerd knowledge, passed down in oral tradition from learned experts to the gathered supplicants, who would then teach the skill to the generations that follow.

That last option, about still not knowing, isn’t a huge deal. Some people may not store their comics in boxes, or don’t have enough comics to even fill a box, or may not be comic collectors at all, and just answered my poll because they follow me on the Twitterers and decided to show me a kindness. I mean, the poll’s range was largely biased toward comic fans, as most of the people on Twitter that follow me and aren’t Russian spy-bots are also people who are into comics.

Which of course doesn’t mean there aren’t collectors who don’t know what to do with these boxes. I noted to someone on Twitter that I’d seen my fair share of boxes where whoever tried to assemble it started off with the wrong fold or flap or whatever and just decided to give up and duct-tape the thing into a box-like shape. And someone working for another comic shop on Twitter verified that they’ve also seen the dreaded “held together by tape and probably a lot of cursing,” so it’s likely a widespread phenomenon.

Anyway, just one of those thoughts that goes through my head when I’m at the shop putting together my one millionth comic box. …Okay, maybe “one millionth” is exaggerating a little, but not by much.

I know about the images-in-the-feed issue.

§ November 9th, 2018 § Filed under how the sausage is made § No Comments

I’ve been informed that since I’ve secured the site, my images aren’t making it through on the RSS feeds. I’m aware of the issue, and will try to get it corrected shortly. Thank you for your patience!

If it’s one thing I need, it’s more “to read” piles of comics at home.

§ November 9th, 2018 § Filed under collecting § 3 Comments

So I’ve been going through box after box after box of comics at the store, just piles of ’em from collections acquired over the last few years, and finally making some headway in getting the processed and put out for you, the people, to come and buy.

I’ve been pretty good about not pulling from said boxes to fill my own collection…plenty of stuff I’d love to have, but I’d love to make money on selling it even more. By and large I just keep to filling holes in the ol’ want list on things I’ve been seeking out for years, like some of the Atlas/Seaboard comics from the ’70s, and fanzines of pretty much any period. Oh, and the occasional Charlton Popeye.

Jumping back a bit, to back when I was but a mere non-comics-retail-working mortal, like most of you common folk out there, I was pretty good about picking up comics I was interested in. Particularly throughout the 1980s, when DC and Marvel discovered he idea of “mini-series” and put out a boatload of purposefully short-run titles, many of which caught my eye and were dutifully snatched off the racks by my young allowance-stretching self.

However, there were a couple of series that I wanted to pick up, but, for reasons long forgotten by God and man (but probably related to “that allowance can only stretch so far”) I never did get around to acquiring. One such as Sword of the Atom, basically “The Atom as Tiny Conan the Barbarian,” featuring some of that great 1980s-style Gil Kane art that the Kane purists may have pooh-poohed at the time but that I really enjoyed.

As it turned out, a run of that original Sword of the Atom was present in the stacks upon stacks of comics I was processing, and set it aside for myself. It did inspire me to check the ol’ Diamond Comics database to see if a trade paperback existed, collecting this mini-series and the three subsequent specials (which I did not have in the piles here at the shop, far as I could tell). There was a trade, published in 2007, and apparently long out of print, and going for some not-terribly-high but more-than-Mike-wanted-to-pay prices on your eBays and your Amazons and such.

Mentioning my quest for the remainder of this series did bring pal Nat into the shop with the first special for me, which was very nice of him. However, a Twitter pal picked up a copy of the trade in the clearance bin at his local shop for dirt cheap, and it is now winging its way to me via the tender mercies of the post office. Thus, with its eventual arrival, that will be one less missing comics experience from my youth. And I’ll be able to put those issues of the mini-series back out for sale…though I’m not sure what to do with the special, since Nat gave that to me as a gift. I’ll have to ask if he wants it back!

Now another comic that I inexplicably passed on during its original run was Night Force by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan. I was reading New Teen Titans at the time, and in issue #21 there was a special 16-page free insert previewing the forthcoming Night Force title.

Now, I liked that preview. I was into Gene Colan’s super-moody art, and I was enjoying Wolfman’s work on Teen Titans, and I was a fan of horror comics…or at least the weird, creepy off-on-the-distant-edges-of-the-main-fictional-universe books like, oh, say, Swamp Thing. But, again, like with Sword of the Atom, and for probably similar reasons, I did not pick up with series.

Not much later, the main character of Night Force, Baron Winters, plays briefly into one of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing storylines, which just sort of added to the “well darn, should have picked up that series” feeling I had. But I still didn’t. Even working at the other comic shop which had no end of full runs of Night Force (only 14 issues long, mind you) didn’t get me off my duff to pull a set aside for myself.

Many years later, a collected hardcover edition of that series was announced, and I sort hemmed and hawed over getting one for myself at the time. I did wait, however, and not too long ago I did finally get my hands on a new copy of the book for a bargain price. And I’m glad I waited…the printing on the original comics wasn’t awful, but seeing Colan’s art recolored on nice paper is a real treat.

Its title of “The Complete Collection” is bit of a misnomer, in that there were two follow-up series (in 1996 and 2012)…these were also written by Wolfman, but drawn by Brent Anderson (2nd series) and Tom Mandrake (3rd series). Not collected, and probably harder to find in the back issue bins. If only I’d bought that first series at the time, then I would have bought series 2 and 3 as they were coming out, and I wouldn’t be in this mess now.

And there’s your little bit of insight into what your pal Mike still gets for himself. I mean, I even bought the full run of Spanner’s Galaxy at the time, I have idea why I passed up those two series.

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ November 5th, 2018 § Filed under End of Civilization § 6 Comments

Neither sleet nor snow nor, um, minor fender-bender will keep me from fulfilling my End of Civilization duties! Run out and buy yourself a copy of the November 2018 edition of Previews, while being very careful when backing your car out of the driveway, so you can follow along with me:

p. 92 – Avatar Tsu’Tey’s Path #1:


Oh, these characters had names?
 
 
p. 114 – Disney Don Quixote, Starring Goofy and Mickey Mouse TP:


I can’t wait for Disney Terry Gilliam’s movie of this!
 
 
p. 170 – Swamp Monsters:


Ah, a new release from the Specifically for Mike Sterling Publishing Company.
 
 
p. 171 – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Everything Is Connected & The X-Files Conspiracy Theory Everything Is Connected:


I did a little…well, very little…research, and as far as I can tell, the two games aren’t connected to each other. No Dirk Gently aggravating the Cigarette-Smoking Man here, which would be a darn shame.
 
 
p. 306 – Star Trek I Am Mr. Spock Little Golden Book:


Market testing revealed that the Little Golden Book based on I Am Not Spock was too upsetting.
 
 
p. 331 – Sartre HC:


“There’s no exit from the greatness of this comic! Why, I feel nausea at how unprepared I was for how good it was. Anyone of the age of reason should love this!”

“Okay, Mike, that’s enough reviewing for you.”

“C’mon, can’t I have the reprieve I deserve?”
 
 
p. M22 – DC Comic Gallery Dark Nights Metal Drowned PVC Diorama:


Repurposing those old Kryptonite Pet Rocks as statue bases, I see:


 
 
p. M48 – Harry Potter Die Cast Wands Series 1:


Look, I read all the books, saw all the movies, and if you put a gun to my head, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you which wand belonged to whom. …This is getting dangerously close to me, a collector and seller of comic books, saying fans of something else are too…whatever, so I’d better stop now.
 
 
p. M49 – The Nun 18-Inch Rotocast Plush Doll:


So when Warrior Nun Areala was a thing back in the ’90s, we would have the occasional purchase of a copy of the comic or action figure for…or even sometimes by…a nun, who would be amused by the very idea.

Just saying I’m not seeing history happen again, here.
 
 
p. M50 – Living Dead Dolls Friday the 13th Part II Jason Voorhees Doll with Sound:


KI KI KI “Math is hard!” MA MA MA
 
 
p. M68 – Pop! Rocks Metallica Lady Justice Vinyl Figure:


Looking forward to the Throbbing Gristle “Hamburger Lady” Pop.
 
 
p. M72 – Halloween Michael Myers Bishoujo Statue:


Okay, add my name to the petition for the sexy girl version of Belial from Basket Case.


 
 
p. M99 – Garfield 1000% Be@rbrick:


I can’t even say anything about it. Just look at it. Just look at its tail. And this is 1000% of whatever it is. JUST BEHOLD ITS GLORY AND ITS HORROR
 
 
p. M115 – IT 3-Piece Lapel Pin Set:


What kind of terrible rebus is this, anyway?
 
 
p. M116 – Justice League PVC Bust Banks:


Just in time to build anticipation for Justice League 2!
 
 
p. M124 – Star Trek Discovery Black Badge:


“Wait, what department are you in again?”

“Isn’t it obvious? I’m black on the right side. All of those lower ranks are black on the left side.”
 
 
p. M131 – Monopoly Fortnite Edition Game:


Do not pass GO, do not play those ding-dang video games that all you kids waste your time on, I don’t even know what the heck this Fortcraft thing is anyway.”
 
 
p. M132 -Star Trek Fluxx:


I bet Kirk would be really good at this g–ooooh, you said “fluxx.”
 
 
p. DC80 – The DC Universe by Len Wein HC:


Finally, issues #27-#29 of DC Comics Presents, containing the entire story that introduced Mongul, under one cover and hopefully unedited/free of production errors! You know, unlike the previous Superman trade paperback that only had parts one and two, and the UK hardcover that altered some of the caption boxes and, um, left out God’s Word.

‘Course, maybe this book will have the pages of the story printed upside down, or with the colors reversed…something. SUCH IS THE CURSE OF MONGUL.

Honestly, that picture of my hand is in, like, the top three best pictures ever taken of me.

§ November 2nd, 2018 § Filed under green lantern, video, wonder woman § 1 Comment

I’ve had a long day, so I’m keepin’ it short and sweet for this post right here, including some stuff you may have already seen on one of my other social media platforms (like the Twitterers). Sorry about that, but I should have a new End of Civilization next week to make up for it!

First, reader Sir A1! dropped this into the comments of Wednesday’s post, and I gotta share it on the main page here: a bit of a Badger fanfilm he worked on some time ago. Some NSFW language in there, so be warned:

Second, just look at this tiny book…or conversely, look at this giant hand:

Third:


You don’t say.

They should get Skottie Young to finish up Big Numbers.

§ October 31st, 2018 § Filed under question time § 12 Comments

Here I am with more unsatisfying answers to your inquiries:

Gareth Wilson reaches new frontiers with

“Which comic book had the best stories about exploring new worlds?”

Huh. That’s the kind of vague-ish question I occasionally get at the shop that sounds like it should be easy to answer but…I don’t know, can be hard to nail down sometimes. Taken literally, as in “going to new planets in outer space in a sci-fi type way” there are plenty of anthology titles published over the years with weird alien landscapes and critters and situations. Classics like Weird Science or Mystery in Space, or newer (er, relatively speaking) comics like Alien Worlds which pretty much has it right in the title there. For comics with more of a continuing narrative, there’s Black Science from Image, with folks bouncing from dimension to dimension. And there’s Legion of Super-Heroes and the various permutations of Star Trek, I suppose, though those would be far more superficial a take on the “new worlds” thing.

Oh, there’s Stellar from Image, too…I’ve only read the first issue so far (picked it up because I love Bret Blevins’s art) but that looks like it may be up this particular alley as well.

I’ve sure there are others that will come to mind after I hit the “PUBLISH” button on this post, but that’s probably a good start, I think!

• • •

Matthew suggests:

“…Maybe write about some never-to-be-finished comic book stories/series. (And not just Sonic Disruptors.)”

Sonic Distruptors was one of those comic series I was enjoying but got cut down in its prime…and I swear I saw a news blurb in the comics press at the time that a one-short or graphic novel or whatever was going to come out wrapping up the series, but of course that didn’t happen. I’ve written a little about it on this site in the past, but look to pal Andrew and his post for the best take on the situation.

Grimjack is another one I’ve mentioned before, where the forward progression of the story has halted. It wasn’t so much cut off mid-story like Sonic Disruptors — there was an ending to that final storyline — but more was definitely planned, continuing the ongoing Grimjack saga. It’s unusual in that there have been newer mini-series featuring the character, but they were essentially flashback tales involving the “classic” Grimjack and not the Grimjack that he had eventually evolved into.

And of course there was the Helfer/Baker Shadow, and Eye of Mongombo which I talked about way back in the very beginnings of this site, so I’m sure all the links are kaput by now. I seem to recall that cartoonist maybe emailing me or leaving a note in the now-deceased Haloscan comments that he planned on bringing the title back to finish it up, but I never saw that he did. Too bad.

Let’s not forget 1963, which is like the patron saint of this sort of thing. Or Big Numbers, which hadn’t really grabbed me as of its second and, as it turned out, final issue, but I was looking forward to to reading through ’til the end anyway. I’d also love to see more of Journey: Wardrums, too.

I was kinda digging this adaptation of the Illuminatus Trilogy, too, but they didn’t want it to finish. You know…them.

More recently there was that Badger revival, which far as I can tell never put out its last issue.

There are no end to series that never reached their intended conclusions, of course. What’s nice is that there is the occasional happy ending, play on words intended, with new collections of previously unfinished comics. I’ve talked about the Puma Blues hardcover before. I thought I talked about the Border Worlds volume on my site here, but I guess I missed it…but that book adds a new 30-page chapter that, despite the publisher’s description, doesn’t exactly conclude things, but is at least more of a stopping point than where it left off before.

So, you know, it’s possible that some of these interrupted comics can get the conclusions they need. Well, maybe not 1963, since it seems unlikely that particular band will ever get back together, but sometimes I think about stocking a complete 1963 hardcover that I’d have to reorder on a regular basis and I get a small tear just in the corner of my eye.

I do eventually start talking about comics.

§ October 29th, 2018 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, retailing § 1 Comment

So…feeling a little more…secure while visiting my site? Well, I certainly hope so, after the trouble I had Saturday trying to get my SSl certificate in order here. Anyway, if you are on my site, and not just reading through a feed reader of some sort, if you look up to the address bar in the browser of your choice you’ll see Progressive Ruin Dot Something or Other now has a little padlock symbol on display. No more “this website isn’t secure” warnings when you visit or try to leave a comment! Your personal information is no longer captured by me and sold to Rufus T. Firefly in the distant land of Freedonia!

A few days ago I installed one of those SSL thingies on my store site with no hitch whatsoever, so I decided, during a brief lunch break on Saturday, to do the same for ol’ ProgRuin. And of course, instead of being a quick install, my images broke, then my page wouldn’t load right, then I somehow managed to lock myself out of my site with no way back in, blah blah, other dumb stuff. “You know just enough about computers to be dangerous” a programmer friend once told me years ago…and while I’ve learned my way around the computatrons a little more since then, I certainly proved her right that Saturday afternoon.

Anyway, if you tried to access my site that day, you may have had a problem or two getting in, but it’s all fixed now, and I’m sure no other problems will crop up ever again. ‘Course, part of the issue I was having is that my site is nearly 15 years old, and there’s a whole lotta patchwork in the backend of things…don’t look at my FTP directory, it’s hideous. Plus, my htaccess file, that bit of programming where I try to block out hotlinkers and junk traffic, is a mile long and cobbled together from my own typed-in additions and whatever things my WordPress plug-ins put in there. (Part of the problem with the images is that while I allowed my progressiveruin.com domain access to my image files, I forgot to allow access to the “https://” version of the site. Oops.)

Anyway, it’s done, and my site is more or less secure. If you’ve bookmarked the “http://” version of the site, it should automatically forward to the secure version. I have a couple of straggling HTML pages separate from the main blog that need some adjusting (not this one, which is now secure as well as perfect), but otherwise you should see that little padlock wherever you go the site, reminding you that your credit cards are all safe with me, so just send in those numbers whenever you’d like.

So the other thing I did on Saturday, aside from thinking “well, maybe I can move my blog over to pogressiveruin.com,” was the Halloween ComicFest, one of the various special comic days during the year trying to expand the success of Free Comic Book Day to other parts of the year. And I did manage to have a pretty good turnout…had a line of folks waiting outside the front door when I opened, which is always a good sign, followed by periodic waves of business throughout the day.

In general, I don’t order huge numbers of the Halloween books, since the turnouts for this event aren’t really a patch on FCBD. But I do, and did, get quite a few people in, Saturday (the official day of the event) and Sunday, so I try to have enough on hand. In some cases, like for this year’s Ms. Marvel book, I ordered a lot extra just to have ’em around as giveaways in the future.

As it turned out, I burned through the majority of the books I had this weekend, with only relative handfuls left over. Even that Ms. Marvel issue was nearly wiped out. You may have noticed above that I gave away these comics on Saturday as well as Sunday, and that’s because the timing of the Halloween ComicFest is always so…peculiar. I mean, “Halloween” is in the name, so it always takes some explaining to establish that, no, the event isn’t necessarily on Halloween, but on the Saturday just prior to it. Yes, it says the actual date on the promo materials, but it also clearly says “1ST SATURDAY IN MAY” on the Free Comic Book Day info, and I’ll still get folks coming in on May 1st looking for the freebies.

What I end up trying to do is, while not overloading on the giveaway comics, try to order enough to actually carry me through to the Halloween day itself. This time around I could be a tad short…but then, Monday and Tuesday usually aren’t blockbuster days, so the supply I have now will likely be little changed by the time Wednesday rolls around and business picks up again.

In the end, it was a lot of fun, and I gave away plenty of comics, and made some good sales, too. Like Free Comic Book Days have been for me since the beginning, the event paid for itself. Even had a few folks show up in costume…at least one Squirrel Girl made it in that day!

So, that was my Saturday. Lots of customer traffic and folks happy with their free goodies, and computer travails. I know which I prefer on any given business day.

Featuring Norbert the Narcotics Bobby.

§ October 26th, 2018 § Filed under retailing, undergrounds § 4 Comments


So pictured above are four issues of The Fabulous Furry Freak Bros. that I purchased from a gentleman at my store on Thursday. They’re not in very good shape…they’re intact, but they are very worn. I’ll generally buy most underground comix regardless of condition — well, within reason — just because undergrounds can be hard to come by, and I always have customers for them.

These particular Freak Bros. were of interest, though, as they were published in the United Kingdom…if you look closely, you can see the UK price on the covers, and maybe the Knockabout Books logo and/or text there. Sometimes the price was printed as part of the cover, and sometimes it was a small round sticker affixed directly over the original cover price, as was sometimes done in the U.S. Whether in this instance it’s covering a U.S. price or another UK price, I do not know. The copyright info on the inside covers also reflect their UK origins.

Wish now I’d taken more (and better!) pics of these items beyond just a representative image to throw on the Instagrams. But I still have ’em at the shop, should you like to drop in and inspect these items in person, hint hint. C’mon, it’s not that far of a drive, if you’re, y’know, on the same continent.

So there you go…my “weird thing that walked in the door” for the week. …Did I tell you about the weird thing from last week, this Li’l Abner comic with the amazing cover? Well, check out the pic of that, too, and that’s all I have of it now, beyond my fond memories, because that cover sells itself, and brother, it sold.

That was more than one question, but I had joke answers so I’ll let it slide.

§ October 24th, 2018 § Filed under indies, question time, retailing § 5 Comments

Let’s tackle another one of your questions! BRIAN, YOU’RE UP:

“1. What is your name?”

Michael Ricardo Anatoly Sterling.

“2. What is your quest?”

“3. What is your favorite color?”

Squant.

“4. Probably something that you’ve discussed before, but I’ve missed it, but I’m curious how you go about sorting back issues in the age of constant reboots and New Number Ones (including volumes that slightly change the name on occasion and then change it back). Being a fellow child of age of long runs, where a title might have hundreds of issues to be put in the bin together, I’m curious how it’s done differently when major titles aren’t aiming at Major Anniversary Issues.”

I did go into some detail about this just under a year ago, when pal Cathy posed that question to me. The short answer is basically labeling new title dividers with names and dates to identify series (for example, “Venom [2018 series]”). That admittedly does make the back issue bins appear a bit cluttered, particularly since a lot of these series (especially at Marvel) tend to run short and get relaunched anyway, making for smaller sections, but that seems to be the best way to avoid confusion.

There are a handful of titles where I just haven’t separated out the newer series from the older series, partially from no huge demand (or simple lack of backstock) for a specific title, or not wanting to put yet another title divider on the table, or just sheer laziness. But on the whole, more information is better for customer awareness than less information, so I do try to properly I.D. everything.

Not everything gets its own title divider, of course. I do have, like, an “X-MEN MISC.” section for the piles of mutant mini-series or short-run titles…though sometimes something graduates to its own section. And sometimes if there’s a small run of something related to a longer running title, I might just put the smaller run in the back of the box of the main run…like putting Groo Chronicles in the back of the Groo the Wanderer section.

It can be a real…well, I don’t want to say “mess,” but it certainly is some work keeping on top of it.

• • •

ThomH dares to inquire

“I like it when you discuss old independent comics that I’ve never heard of (a la Jupiter most recently).

“Anything else you’ve read and enjoyed but maybe not talked up on the blog in a while (or at all)?

“I’d love to be pointed in the direction of something interesting, wacky, weird, or just plain awesome.

“Thanks!”

Oh, don’t thank me yet!

I suppose one old indie title I really liked that I’ve never really mentioned here is Ralph Snart Adventures by Marc Hansen.

It has a slightly convoluted publishing history involving multiple series…and going back to the previous question, at the previous place of employment I had them all filed in the same section with notations on the price tags as to which series was which. And, if you pulled up the title divider, I had written on body of the divider which issues comprised which volume of the series, as the price guides at the time had it all messed up. …Probably should’ve made sections for each series, but what can I tell you.

But the series itself…it’s kinda sorta an anthology title with our titular hero as the recurring character in a variety of wild, usually contradictory, adventures from issue to issue. The thread pulling everything together is that Snart has, well, been driven nuts by the pressures of life and is stuck in an asylum, while his brain generates strange and fantastic scenarios in which he may engage. The set-up is a little…well, the idea of “this guy is crazy and his crazy brain invents crazy stuff!” is perhaps not the most sensitive portrayal of mental health issues, but me describing it is probably worse than actually reading it in context. So blame me, not Mr. Hansen.

Anyway, the story functions on two levels…the internal fantasy life of Mr. Snart, and the “real world” shenanigans, mostly revolving around nefarious forces trying to harness the unusual imagination power of Snart’s brain…I seem to recall at least one cliffhanger where his brain has actually been removed from his body! Don’t worry, it gets put back (SPOILER).

If you can get around the set-up, the comics themselves are pretty funny, and Hansen has this great, lumpy cartooning style. It’s been a while since I’ve read ’em, and of course writing about it here makes me want to read them again. Like, you know, I have time. Ah, well, I still have them…didn’t give those up to my store when I opened it up!

If you do seek out Ralph Snart comics, keep in mind that there are some non-Hansen issues…The Lost Issues is all non-Hansen, so avoid. Also, the black and white Volume Two that ran 9 issues is reprinted in color in the first nine issues of the 26-issue long Volume Three. You can find previews of various issues here, along with some extensive descriptions that would probably give you a better idea about this series than my meandering typing here.

• • •

Okay, more questions answered next time, probably! Add more to the pile if you’d like!

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