mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 15, 2005

As mentioned
way back when, one of our customers won The Goon's "Create A Monster" contest (here's the Google cache for the Dark Horse page that announced the results). The prize packages arrived a couple days ago, and, along with the shirts and shotglasses and the autographed paperback, we received the above sketch by The Goon's creator Eric Powell. Pretty darn cool.

Visit the official Goon site at TheGoon.com.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Well, that doesn't look too good for Elektra.

EDIT: Didn't notice that The Beat beat me to it. Oops! (But, hey, Elektra's at 6% now! Things are looking up!)

A few quick links. 

1. Baboon Books' Richard Marcej now has his own weblog: The Baboon Bellows. Comics, birthdays, and, yes, baboons. Go visit, won't you?

2. Scott Saavedra has just posted his Dick Sprang-ish Batman/Two-Face drawing. Nicely done!

3. Tom Spurgeon reports on a columnist's unfamiliarity with shopping in a comic book store, and notes that said columnist was prevented from buying a whole stack of a certain issue. That reminded me of something that, thankfully, we haven't have to do at our store in a while. It used to be that a comic would come out that was red-hot, and reorders weren't to be had, so in order to make sure everyone was able to get a copy, we'd put up a sign by the comic reading "1 per customer." However, while this prevented the first "investor" in the door from buying every single copy, this did have the unintended result of encouraging people who wouldn't have bought it in the first place to grab one. "Hey, only one per customer? Must be hot...better buy it!"

I always wanted to try an experiment, by putting a "one per customer" sign on a comic that wasn't hot and seeing if that improved sales...but I like being able to sleep guilt-free, so I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Look in
this dog's eyes and tell me you don't see a creature desiring vengeance upon whoever made it dress like this.

(may get a pop-up...not sure, I keep that stuff disabled)

From the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger:
"From graphic novel to film: Fans say their comic books get lost in translation."

Related, from the same source: "The future and the flops" - a brief look at forthcoming comic-based films (and a few past ones) and how some of them differ from the source material.

So, since
pal Dorian was unable to get to the store Wednesday morning due to storm-related traffic shenanigans, that left us a little shorthanded for the breaking down of the new comics shipment. However, I find that if you put the right kind of music on the stereo, even having extra work goes by a lot more quickly and easily. And Wednesday morning, the right kind of music was the Rhino Records Disco Box sampler CD. If "Car Wash," "It's Raining Men," and "Born to Be Alive" can't speed you along your work day, then by God, nothing can.

Anyway, new comics stuff (slight spoilers ahead):

JSA #69 - a slightly frustrating issue, as it's all set up (members of the modern day JSA meet their predecessors in the past) with no payoff, really. Yes, I know it's the middle of a multi-part story, so we'll get that payoff next time around. But I enjoyed seeing the new characters meet the old, and wanted more of that interaction. Yeah, I'm impatient.

JLA #110 - liked the bits with the Crime Syndicate (now disguised as the JLA), not so much the bits with the Qwardians (only a brief scene this time). For about half a second I was afraid we were going to be seeing the old chestnut of "villains treated as heroes, villains reconsider villainy" (to which Marvel's Thunderbolts should be the final word on the subject) but thankfully that's not the case here.

Speaking of Thunderbolts...just read the newest issue (#4), and I'm not sure what the heck I just read. It's not anything to do with the crossover with current events in Wolverine...there are just a lot of plots and subplots and noise and nonsense, and maybe I just need to read the issue again to get it all straight. It just seemed a little confused to me...or maybe it is just me, since I'm still pretty medicated because of my cold. Still looks darn pretty, though...that Tom Grummett can still knock out one dilly of a superhero book.

On the topic of subplots a'plenty, there's Fables #33, which ends with the note "NEXT: A new story begins." I wasn't entirely aware that we'd been reading a storyline over the last few issues as it was...mostly it was just subplots and repercussions from previous storylines. Not that I'm complaining, as this is still one of my favorite comics, but the tale seemed a little rudderless lately. That's just the nature of the stories in the most recent issues, I suppose...a little downtime as characters are repositioned for future adventures.

Ultimates 2 #2 - I've mentioned this before, I believe, about how I admire Mark Millar's ability in this book to take a bunch of characters that are almost entirely unsympathetic and keep you interested in them. The X-Men's Professor X pops in for a telepathic shrink session with Bruce Banner...and Xavier looks like Patrick Stewart more than I've ever seen. Is this how he looks in Ultimate X-Men?

Two more of Warren Ellis' Apparat titles came out this week (just in time, as I was in the mood for more Ellis following the Desolation Jones script): Angel Stomp Future (Angel gives us a tour of the future, filled with hi-tech body modifications and infectious memes, finely illustrated in a highly detailed Darrow-esque style by Juan Jose Ryp) and Simon Spector (Ellis does a great job conveying something quite difficult...a man whose intelligence, or at least his perceptive abilities, are far beyond any normal human's, and it's all expressively drawn by his frequent collaborator Jacen Burrows).

Alter Ego #44 - the flip-covers are gone for good, according to the editorial, but this ish has a great wraparound cover of the Justice Society/All-Star Squadron/Infinity Inc. by Jerry Ordway. Finally, Roy Thomas gets around to more discussion regarding his "Earth 2" work for DC, including interviews with Thomas' cohorts Ordway and Rich Buckler. Also included is Thomas' proposal for the Infinity Inc. series. I was a big fan of All-Star Squadron at the time, so seeing all the original art and unpublished pieces is a lot of fun.

Other new releases:

Spider-Man/Human Torch #1 - written by She-Hulk's Dan Slott, and featuring a rare illustration job by the always excellent Ty Templeton. If only all the Spider-Man titles were this much good-natured fun...maybe I could start selling them to kids.

Oh, hey, Blowjob #12 is out! Special anniversary issue! ...Okay, it's not really.

Green Lantern: Rebirth #1 Fourth Printing - let me repeat that again: Fourth Printing. We have sold out of the first three printings. I just now added up how many comics that is...and that's a buttload of comics, my friend. Fourth Printing...I mean, holy cow.

Scooby Doo #92 - there's a "monkey on my back" joke on the cover. A phrase that has had drug use connotations. Sure, it is Shaggy saying it, but still....

Stormbreaker: Saga of Beta Ray Bill #1 - Walt Simonson just barely got away with making us accept a character with the name of Beta Ray Bill. I don't know if this series is really up to the task of doing the same...it doesn't look too bad, and it is selling better than I expected it would. But still, it's such a Simonson character, I have a hard time seeing it by anyone else. I'm old and cranky that way.

Peach Fuzz Vol. 1 has a scratch and sniff sticker on the cover, supposedly with a peachy-smell. I have a cold and can't tell how successful it is, but man, I don't know how we got through the '90s without Marvel publishing a scratch-'n'-sniff comic.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Just a few quick notes:

1. Regarding my
previous post - what I guess I didn't make clear is that the Bolland cover and the Texeira cover are actually of the same design, just by different artists. If you go to this page and click on the "16x" link beneath the cover thumbnail, the differences between the two versions become a little more obvious! I assure you, it's two different drawings.

2. Hero Squared from Atomeka Press was unleashed onto an unsuspecting populace today...well, you might have suspected it slightly had you read my review. Hey, even pal Dorian liked it, and you know how he is.

3. Speaking of pal Dorian, you'll be glad to know that he was able to find a way around the 101 Freeway shut-down that effectively cut off where he lives from where he works, and he's now back in action at the shop. Of course, this means he won't be able to update his site until he's able to get back home (Friday at the earliest), so now's the time to start spreading vicious, scandalous lies about him while he can't defend himself!

Pal Tom, however, is still stranded in that remote mountain village of his.

4. So I've been carefully planning out my reorders through Diamond, so that we don't get socked with a huge bill for a ton of items. Every week I ordered a small amount, spacing out the big-ticket items, not loading up on a bunch of the same thing...I'm just trying to slowly restock our shelves in this post-holiday period.

And what did I forget? That reorders over the holidays take a little longer to get processed and filled, and so this week I get hit with about three weeks' worth of backordered items bunched up into one shipment. Eep.

So, anyone out there looking for any trade paperbacks, he asked shillingly?

The latest installment of
Newsarama's It Came from The Quarter Bin nicely covers the first chapter of Steve Gerber's team-up of Howard the Duck and the She-Hulk in Sensational She-Hulk #14. However, there's a bit of perhaps forgotten trivia regarding this particular issue. Apparently, it was supposed to be published with a Brian Bolland cover (shown above), instead of the Mark Texeira cover that the final published edition had (and can be seen here).

Marvel released a four-page advertising flyer that had the Bolland cover on the front, and an explanation on the inside as to what happened:

The other page (not shown) had a picture of Howard holding a baseball bat, and a text message, supposedly from Howard, previewing events from future issues of this crossover:

"Let your old pal Howard set you straight. It's a trick, see?! Those guys at Marvel know that they've got you hooked by showing you that gorgeous Brian Bolland cover. Now they figger they'll let you know what's comin' up in the rest of the 'Cosmic Squish Principle' and you'll get so excited you'll just have to read the rest of the series."

We still have a few of these flyers at the store...we bag 'em up with issues of Sensational She-Hulk #14 so that customers can get both covers when they buy the comic.

One of these days, remind me to explain the similar Wasteland screw-up (or just read the brief explanation here, I guess).

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

In which Mike looks at a script, hypes contests, ponders mini-series, and links to Laura

Just read through the script for Warren Ellis' forthcoming WildStorm project Desolation Jones...and it seems like fine work indeed. It's filled with Ellis' trademark tough and darkly-humored characters, all of whom seem to be right on the edge of just barely tolerating each other. The lead is a former secret agent turned private eye who, as a result of something called the "Desolation Test" that we only get scant details about, is unable to feel pain. He's stuck in Los Angeles, which is secretly a retirement "home" for other former agents, and finds himself hired to track down a stolen collection of Hitler's dirty movies...and honestly, if that's not enough to get you to pick up the first issue, I don't know what to tell you. The supporting cast is just as colorful, particuarly the elderly Colonel Nigh, the former "soldier and a world class sexual adventurer" who hires Jones to find said films.

The dialogue is witty and concise, and every once in a while Ellis will knock out a particular turn of phrase or combination of words that makes me laugh out loud (such as "the international pervert community").

If the art stays true to the descriptions in the script, the violence in this story will be incredibly unpleasant and hard to look at...you know, just like real violence. And given that the art is by the excellent J.H. Williams, I have no reason to doubt that the art will be anything but up to the job. You can see a shot of Jones himself here.

This series should begin in a few months, and I look forward to the final published product.

Ferret Press is having monthly free comic book giveaways, starting with this one right here for a free copy of the Strangehaven Arcadia trade paperback.

Another contest can be found at DougBot's Giant Fighting Robot Report, featuring a giveaway for the Daily Show's America: The Book.

Before Marvel and DC published another mini-series starring one of their main characters, like Superman or Spider-Man or Batman, I really wish someone would take a moment and think "is there any reason at all that this story can't be published in one of the regular titles?" Particularly with Batman...I mean, wasn't Legends of the Dark Knight supposed to be for short-run stories by various creative teams? Why wasn't, for example, that recent Ra's Al Ghul mini-series printed in LODK?

I know, I know...so the publishers can have more "#1s" on the rack.

And yes, I realize that sometimes there's darn good reason to release a story as a separate title (like Dark Knight Returns), but really, World of Krypton or Lethal Foes of Spider-Man could have just been published in, say, Action or Amazing Spider-Man, respectively.

Laura talks about Aquaman. Yes, I know that's not news...of course she's talking about Aquaman. But she takes an even-handed look at the character and what's being done with him, and, well, it's always interesting to read a reasoned overview like this, particularly from the point of view of a longtime fan.

In which Mike talks about his sick day. 

I was sick yesterday (and still just a little under the weather today), and since 1) it was my day off, and 2) we're having some slightly inclement weather out here in sunny Southern California, I spent the entire day inside, either in bed watching TV, bundled up in front of the computer to make yesterday's post, or reading funnybooks.

In order:

TV: Didn't watch that much, actually...saw most of an old episode of Battlestar Galactica (I haven't seen this show in years...it's really not very good, is it), and watched my DVD of Ed Wood, still Tim Burton's finest film, I think.

Yesterday's post: Luckily I had made those scans a couple days back, because I wouldn't have wanted to spend the time doing so Monday morning, given how I was feeling. That's also why I didn't include much explanatory text, which is probably for the best...what could I have added? I probably could have mentioned (which I will now) that this was only a portion of Eisner's art from this booklet. The thing is chock-full of his illustrations...I would have scanned even more, but my bandwidth is taking a pretty good hit this month as it is! (I need my pal Andy's one terabyte limit!)

Funnybooks: I recently got my hands on some DC 100-pagers from the 1970s, as well as a couple issues of Superman from 1972, so I spent part of my day paging through those. Among these comics were Our Army At War #242, with plenty of classic war comics as only DC could do them. My favorite story from this comic was probably "Battle Hats," in which various pieces of military headgear exchange battle stories from their unique perspectives...with word balloons and everything. Fantastic.

In other news:

Laura is still seeking entries to her Colonia giveaway contest...and in case you haven't heard, publisher Larry Young has sweetened the deal by contributing a piece of Jeff Nicholson's original art from the series. So, go enter already.

Pal Dorian has posted his explanation as to why the forthcoming V for Vendetta film will almost certainly be no good. Be sure to read the comments for that post for good discussion. (I will note to Sean that I also am part of that incredibly-small minority that doesn't have high hopes for the Sin City adaptation...I do hope I'm wrong!)

And like pal Dorian, I too shall add Trade Whore to my comics weblog listing...and plug his Gotham Central TPB giveaway as well.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Sunday, January 09, 2005

1. A couple nights ago, I had a dream that I was carefully preserving collectible Swamp Thing chocolate bars, and that I needed to take pictures of them for this website.

That's all kinds of pathetic, on so many levels.

2. Somehow, all this time I thought I had
Fortress of Blogitude on my links list over there to the right, and it turned out I hadn't. Oops. Well, go visit his site lots and lots to make up for my oversight.

3. Yesterday, at the store:

Pal Sean: "If I were to buy any of the DC Archives, I'd buy all the Flash ones."

Me: "You should buy the Green Lantern Archives, too."

Sean: "Why?"

Me: "Because they're buddies!"

4. Also at the store...the way we have our comics racked, the "mature readers" Marvel and DC titles are placed on the topmost shelf, to keep them out of the hands of the young, the impressionable, and the outright deranged. So, for the last couple of weeks, what cover immediately draws my eye, up there on that top shelf? Why, the one with the flaming upside-down pentagram, of course!

5. So the upcoming Megacon '05 is going to have both Sam Jones and Sam Jones III as guests? That's just plain mean.

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