mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Beat is reporting that there has been some forward movement on the Watchmen movie adaptation front.

Oh, well, just when I got accustomed to the perennial sales of the Watchmen trade paperback. I expect it'll go the same way as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen did: 1) the graphic novel sells great; 2) GN sales peak just before the movie comes out; 3) movie comes out, and it sucks more than a really sucky thing; 4) GN sales plummet, and now we can't give it away.

I know I'm jumping the gun a little, and for all I know this Watchmen movie will be the Greatest Thing Ever, but, well, I'm not holding my breath.

Wow, this is incredibly depressing: Mark Evanier reports that Captain Sticky has died! I used to see Captain Sticky turn up on TV all the time when I was a kid...and like Mark says, the good Captain actually did fight for justice! I didn't know C.S. had pursued a comic license through Marvel Comics, but there was a small press Captain Sticky comic...if memory serves, it's listed in Jay Kinney's underground price guide.

EDIT (1/31): It's Jay Kennedy, not Kinney. More here.

Attention parents: I'm sorry if my having to repeatedly (and politely, might I add) tell your unsupervised child to not sit on the floor and read the comics caused your precious little angel to seek you out and "cry" (actually, put on an act for your benefit). I'm also sorry that I don't believe you when you tell me that my horrible actions just cost our store "a lot of money" because your theoretical Yu-Gi-Oh card game club is now not going to come here (i.e. you're now not going to use our store as a free day care service). And I'm sorry if I just look at you in disbelief as you point at someone in the store and tell me "but you're letting him read!" - and the person you're pointing at clearly isn't reading.

I'm also sorry that I've been at this long enough to know the difference between "browsing" and "reading with no darn intention of spending any money, ever."

I'm sorry that we can't keep a comic store open by letting people read all the comics they want but not buy any of them. Yes, I know big chain bookstores do it...they can afford it, "mom 'n' pop" stores can't.

I'm sorry I'm still irritated by this. I don't like to be irritated. I like to get along with everyone. I like it when kids come in for comics (and we had quite a few today, actually accompanied by parents)...but I can't let the store become a babysitting service. No way.

On a happier note...about two years ago, I somehow managed to lose an autographed copy of They Might Be Giants' Mink Car album that I received for being a member of Emusic. I believed that I lost it at the store, or that it had been misplaced while I was moving from an apartment into a house at the time. But, as I was in the store's back room looking for copies of the Elementals Sex Special #3 (don't ask), there it was, in a plastic bag on a metal shelf behind some storage boxes. Reunited, and yes, it feels so good.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Our current window painting, courtesy the mighty
Randy Martinez. So we like having silly things in the window, what's it to ya?

How not to ask us to buy your comics, via a phone call:

1. Have no idea what you have.

2. Refuse to make and send a list.

3. Live several states away from us.

4. Demand thousands of dollars for your collection, sight unseen.

Reminder: check your copy of Previews, which came out this week, for printing errors...in particular, see if it's missing any pages between 250 and 300, or if any pages are duplicated. A couple people have responded to this post with reports that their copies are fine. However, unless we just happened to get every misprinted copy, chances are there are more out there.

Your "someone dressed as a superhero at a political protest rally" picture of the day (five down).

Thursday, January 27, 2005

NOTICE: Incomplete Previews

Pal Dorian noted that his copy of Previews was missing about 30 pages (around pages 256 to 290), with some pages duplicated. Well, as it turns out, nearly all of our copies have this problem...we ended up with only three that were complete.

I don't know how widespread this problem is, if it's just a west coast thing, or if our store was just the lucky one...but if you're a Previews reader, check your copy!

Didn't we just get new comics last week? 

Yup, it's the inevitable new comics day post. SPOILERS ahead...I mean it this time. Especially in the Fantastic Four bit.

The Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis II is a perfect follow-up to the previous series from a couple years ago...it picks up right where the previous series leaves off, with the Simpsons invading the Futurama world. The reference to Frink's "thick Canadian accent" kills me.

Planetary #22 has one of those covers that looks like it's been weathered and beaten to pieces, and even though I know it's just printed to look like that, I will do a double-take every time I see it for, most likely, the rest of my life. How do I know this? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #15, that's why. Anyway, another fine issue, this time taking on the Lone Ranger (complete with a reference to the Ranger's relationship to the Green Hornet).

Fantastic Four #522 - I'm totally spoiling the ending here, so skip ahead if you don't want to know. Really. I mean it. Okay, you asked for it...now, pal Dorian groaned when he read the preview copy of this last week, but you know, I got a kick out of it, and I can't wait to see how the next issue wraps things up. Basically, though the shenanigans in this issue, Johnny figures out a way to strip Galactus of his powers (based on the methods used to switch his powers with his sister)...leaving us with a powerless Galen at the end of the ish. Okay, I know we've seen this kind of story in comics and science fiction before, where a an extremely powerful (or just inhuman) being is reduced to mere humanity (cough cough Secret Wars II cough), but as a longtime Galactus fan this has me anticipating the last part of the storyline something fierce. (Yes, I have an empty life, why do you ask?)

WE3 #3 - Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's strangely affecting story about cyborg-animal weapons comes to its conclusion...it wouldn't say it's an entirely happy ending, as Dorian suggested to me yesterday, but it's a tad bittersweet. I'm not sure how a sequel would come together, but I'd love to see one...three issues just didn't seem enough.

JSA: Strange Adventures #6 - well, it's over, and probably largely unnecessary, aside from getting to see the original Justice Society back in action again. However, any comic that can work in this line of dialogue:
"What have you done, Jack Williamson? Did you betray Lord Dynamo's plans to the Justice Society?"

is okay by me. Plus it's always fun to see Johnny Thunder get his due.

Lessee, what else...Luba #10 (the end of the series...a few nice call-backs to Poison River in here), Flash #218 (the Heat Wave life story...you know, these Rogues Gallery-focused issues sure cast some of the original Barry Allen Flash stories in a new light), and Legion of Super-Heroes #2 (okay, but hasn't convinced me a reboot was needed).

We also got a letter from Dave Sim, announcing a price increase on the Cerebus trades...how long do you think it'll be before we see a Tales of Cerebus series, with stories from various periods of Cerebus' life? Oh, and the letter is hand-signed by Sim, so I fully expect someone to put it on the eBay. (Not me...I'm not that much of a jerk.)

And the new Wizard (we got a double-order of one cover instead of receiving both covers, for some reason) has a preview of Mark Millar's run on Ultimate Fantastic Four. The preview reveals an upcoming storyline in which Reed finds an "alternate universe" or some such thing during a visit to the Negative Zone - a universe where Reed and Sue are older, married, and have two kids. Basically, the article implies that "Ultimate" Reed has found the regular Marvel Universe. Now, I am fully expecting an Ultimate Universe/Marvel Universe crossover at some point in the future (probably when they decide to do away with one or the other), but I'm thinking this isn't going to be it. I'm expecting the "alternate" FF to be interdimensional monsters in disguise, or something similar.

The first volume of the Scholastic Books color Bone volumes came out this week...I'm not sure how I feel about them. The color is nice, though the pages do have a slight "scanned and Photoshopped" feel to them, and it's hard to beat $9.99 for the package. I'm tempted by it, if only because of some of the minor art changes between the comics and the collections, and because the spine on that complete Bone volume, while appearing to be fairly solid now, seems like it won't survive the test of time.

And, those of you who decided to order your copy of the Simpsons Season 5 DVD set through your comic shop, like I did...it's out finally.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

So I finally get my hands on the new Previews catalog, and while looking through the back pages, I spot the above item. It's the Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Slayer's Stake Prop Replica, hand-carved from real wood, with a satin-lined case and engraved plaque, for only $99.99. So help me, if I find out that you've bought this, I'm going to go to your house and punch you.*

Also available in this month's Previews are the Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy Vogon Desk Set Movie Prop Replicas. You can get a
Vogon Mug, a Vogon Pen & Stand, or a Vogon Stapler, for a mere $49.99 apiece. I'm not 100% certain that these are functional items...well, I suppose the Vogon Mug would have to be, unless it's actually a solid block of material with no space to pour liquid into. However, even if they aren't functional, the solicitation info states that "office supplies make for lively flashbacks" -- to the movie, presumably.

While these are mighty contenders for the title of Nerdiest Object Ever, this item, previously discussed, is still the reigning champion.

* Yeah, I know, I'm a fine one to talk.

from Misery Is A Blind Date (1967) by Johnny Carson* & Whitney Darrow Jr.

(cover at the end of the post
here, and, like I've noted before, Will Pfeifer has the cover of Carson & Darrow's other book here)

* The small print inside the book reads "special thanks to Walter Kempley and Edwin Weinberger for their contributions to the text of this book."

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Blogging about blogging is a sin. 

1. Remember a while back when we were discussing the recognizability (or lack thereof) of Superman by the general public (here and here)? Well, on a related note, I was listening to an radio talk show trio Monday afternoon...one of them is in his 40s, the other two a little younger than me (early 30s), and the three of them were trying to remember the names of Archie's girlfriends. They could come up with "Veronica," but darned if they could remember the blonde one. And these folks are usually pretty good about coming up with pop culture trivia.

2. Regarding the discussion of Overstreet from yesterday's overlong post, Jim brings up a point that I had actually written out before cutting it from the final posting. Essentially, that Overstreet's editors may have considered Yummy Fur more underground than "mainstream," and thus outside the purview of the guide. That's probably as likely an explanation as any.

But that did get me thinking...Overstreet currently devotes several pages to a section on "platinum age" comics from around the turn of the century. Now, I'm not saying Overstreet shouldn't cover these comics, as they are very interesting from a historical perspective. But how likely is it that most comic dealers or fans will ever deal with any of these? It's far more probable that modern comic fans will find themselves in possession of old undergrounds and in need of information on same. One thought is that perhaps the section of "platinum age" comics could be alternated with an undergrounds section every other year, given that prices aren't likely to drastically change enough on either to warrant yearly updates.

Then again, titles like Tits 'N' Clits and Fuktup Funnies would likely give Overstreet's editors heart palpitations, so it's probably all for the best.

3. I am now, at least for the moment, the top Google result for Spunky the Monkey. God bless the internet.

4. I really hate it when I discover an insanely obvious typo in an entry of mine from several days ago. Sigh.

Monday, January 24, 2005

MSPR Presents - A Big Freakin' Post. 

From Amazing Heroes #25 (June 1983), an excerpt from a Geppi's Subscription Service advertisement:

Those were the days, eh? (And yes, that's "Geppi" as in Diamond Comics poobah Steve Geppi.)

From another issue of Amazing Heroes, #22 (April 1983), comes this tidbit from Jim Korkis' "Potpourri" column:
"In February of 1969, the University of Wisconsin was offering a course entitled, 'Uncle Scrooge: The Duck and the Legend' taught by Terry Zwigoff on Thursday evenings. [...] The class only met five times. It was cancelled because of low attendance."

Unless there were two Terry Zwigoffs* who attended the University of Wisconsin, this would be the same fellow who would go on to direct Ghost World and Crumb.

Man, to have gone to a class about Scrooge McDuck taught by Terry Zwigoff...if only I hadn't been -1 months old at the time....

Swamp Thing in foreign lands: French artist Bruno Gore's portfolio image of Swampy, and a history of Swamp Thing in Italian.

Okay, so we're in the process of buying a big ol' collection of comics from a fellow, and among the many and varied books is a small incomplete run of Chester Brown's Yummy Fur. Now, I already knew that the yearly Overstreet price guide hadn't listed Yummy Fur in the past, but I cracked the book open anyway just to see if Overstreet's editors had relented.

Nope. Not yet. However, all three issues of Young Zen Intergalactic Ninja from 1993 were listed.

A comic that no one has ever asked for ever** is listed in Overstreet, while a comic by an acclaimed, award-winning cartoonist is not. A comic that, by the way, was not carried by Diamond Comics for a time, and thus had some spotty distribution...a comic that really could use some kind of semi-reliable pricing information.

During the black-and-white publishing explosion in the '80s, people were cranking out books by the truckload in order to piggyback on the success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Overstreet decided, for space reasons, not to list the majority of them, as they were just pumped out to make a quick buck on speculators. But, one would think that after all this time, at the very least Yummy Fur would be included. Perhaps Overstreet isn't getting any sales reports on it...but I find it hard to believe that Young Zen Intergalactic Ninja is.

Okay, okay, I'm not completely unreasonable. I know Overstreet has to make decisions as to what to include and what to exclude, as they only have limited space. But what they do include and exclude baffles me, sometimes. I mean, Palookaville isn't listed either...and that one's still coming out!

Of course, we can solve this problem by doing away with price guides altogether, and just charge, say, $1 for all back issues regardless of age or demand.

Yeah, right. You first!

Spotted at pal Andy's site - a sketch-weblog by Ivan Brunetti! "Doodle-A-Day" - cool!

So pal Dorian tells me yesterday that he's been hearing reports from some of our customers about some kid telling people that our store is going out of business (not true, by the way!). Clearly we must have offended this kid somehow (probably by telling him to stop doing stupid things in our shop, like running, or throwing things, or picking his nose then reading the comics*** or whatever) and this is his way of getting revenge. Of course, we're getting these stories second-hand, so who knows what's really going on, but I'm always really thrilled to hear stuff like this. (I would think that the caveat of "consider the source" would be enough explanation.)

A few years back, someone who owned a card shop in a neighboring town was apparently claiming that we were all arrested for "charging prices that were too high." Um...what? Again, it's hearsay, so who knows what, if anything, was actually said. Plus, that shop in question is long gone, so it's a bit late to find out for sure.

I'm a bad person for giggling at the phrase "major Moorcock input."

In the "You Don't Say" department, here's this caption from The Transformers #1 (September 1984):
"Whereas life elsewhere in the cosmos usually evolved through carbon-bonding, here it was the interaction of naturally occurring gears, levers and pulleys that miraculously brought forth sentient beings."

Some of your favorite comic and cartoon characters in balloon form.

Goodbye, Johnny.

(Inspired by Will Pfeifer, who posted the companion piece to the above book.)

* It's not like he has a common name, like, oh, say, Mike Sterling. (Yes, I know some of the links there don't work at the moment.)

** Oh, relax, I'm exaggerating to make a point. I really don't want to hear any griping from the Zen fans. Either of you.

*** We've had to tell someone this. Our customers prefer their comics booger-free, thank you.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Catwoman movie tricks you. It starts off okay enough...the opening credits montage reveals that there have been several "Catwomen" over the years, thus adding a Phantom-esque heritage to the character. Okay, fine, I can accept that. Then we get a few minutes of amusing character bits with Halle Berry as "Patience Phillips," as it's established that 1) she's clumsy, 2) she's shy, and 3) she's walked over by her boss. I wasn't expecting this to be a good movie by any means, but for a little while I believed it might be a reasonably entertaining bit of cinematic fluff.

And then the Catwoman-stuff starts.

She's killed by the bad guy, and brought back to life by a mixture of live-action and CGI cats...then she's running around walls and jumping from rooftop to rooftop in more entirely unconvincing CGI...and is it too much to ask for a single camera angle to be held for more than two seconds? I know all this jump-cutting is supposed to make it exciting, but all it does is upset my digestion. I'm old...I can't handle this MTV-style directing all you kids are into.

It's a shame, because the entire film isn't terrible. Benjamin Bratt does a good job as the love interest/policeman "Tom Lone" (at least the script has the sense to comment on his "tough guy" name), the best friend (Alex Borstein as "Sally") steals the show, and some of the non-CGI-"enhanced" action scenes aren't too bad. Sharon Stone as the villainess acquits herself well enough, as she seems to realize the kind of movie she's in and acts accordingly. Halle Berry herself is, as always, beautiful, but the final Catwoman costume (the one that almost has a top) is just as silly-looking as I expected. And while I appreciate that she was trying to mimic actual cat-movements with her actions and gestures...um, well, that set off the goofy-meter, and not in a good way.

Unintended side effect from this film: I never, ever, ever want to see CGI ever again.

The DVD does include a half-hour long documentary on the history of the character, narrated by my favorite TV Catwoman, Eartha Kitt. Included are brief comments from DC head honchos Paul Levitz and Dan Didio, the three '60s Catwomen (Kitt, Lee Meriweather, and Julie Newmar), the man himself Adam West, Adrienne Barbeau (who provided the character's voice for Batman: The Animated Series), as well as artist Alex Ross and comics writer Jeph Loeb, among others. It's a fluff-piece, but a fun fluff piece, and probably better than the film it accompanies. My favorite bit: Halle Berry talking about her costume, about how it reveals so much skin in order emphasize her musculature and to leave her free to move. The reason not mentioned: getting guys to buy tickets.

In case you're wondering why I'm talking about Catwoman now...well, blame Netflix. I'll probably do the same with Elektra, once they rush the DVD to market in about four months in a desperate attempt to recoup losses from this turkey.

On a happier note, last night's Justice League Unlimited was a lot of fun, particularly for those of us who are fans of DC Comics' western heroes. Bat Lash, Pow Wow Smith, El Diablo, and, best of all, Jonah Hex (making his second appearance in the modern animated DC universe) all pop up, as Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Batman find themselves stuck in the old west. As usual, TV Tome has a fine overview of the episode...one that helped me remember where I heard the name of the bad guy, Tobias Manning, before. (It's the real name of the western-themed old Superman villain Terra-Man...how could I have forgotten?)

Another nice touch was Hex immediately identifying the three super-heroes as "time travellers." Asked as to how he knew..."I've had an interesting life," he says. A nice reference to 1) every time a superhero ends up in the old west in the comics, he meets Hex...even Swamp Thing has encountered Hex, sort of; and, of course, 2) the Hex series.

The episode ends with our three heroes stuck in the future...the Batman Beyond future, in fact. I didn't care for that particular series at first, but it did grow on me...and it'll be interesting to revisit those characters from the perspective of the new JLU series.

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