mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Friday, April 15, 2005

Spoilers for Watchmen ahead, I guess, if you happen to be a Charlton fan. 

As I was processing back issues today:

Me (holding a copy of Watchmen #12): "Wow, hard to believe it's been nearly 20 years, and we're still talking about this comic."

Pal Dorian: "Did you ever read Watchmen and picture the original Charlton heroes in the main characters' parts?"

M: "Oh, sure. Actually, it's a good thing Moore didn't use the Charlton characters as he planned...I have a feeling Watchmen would have been long forgotten if he had. Well, except for the Charlton fans bitching about what he did to 'their' characters."

D: "'Oh no! Peter Cannon's a villain!'"

M: "'I can't believe they killed off the Question!'"

So yesterday, Kid Chris comes out of the store's back room where he had been putting away some backstock, and he's holding a copy of the first printing of the Batman: A Death in The Family trade paperback. That's the book, for the two of you who don't know, that DC rushed out to reprint the then-hot four issue series featuring the death of the Jason Todd Robin, as voted on by the fans. Anyway, Kid Chris figured we could probably use it out front and he hands it to
pal Dorian to process...when Dor notices the list of quotes on the back cover.

Now, Dor wanted to put this on his own site, but he's burning through his bandwidth like it's goin' out of style, so I offered to put it up here.* Now, the first thing Dor noticed is how unflattering those quotes are, considering that they're being used to sell the book. Particularly the "but the real murderers are the Batman readers" one -- it all feels very negative (unsurprisingly so, given the story's content), presenting the fans as a bunch of bloodthirsty thugs. Whether that's a fair assessment of the people who voted for Robin's death I'll let others discuss, but I'm sure at least a few people voted for his demise just to see if DC would go through with it.

The best quote**, though, has got to be the last one from then-editor Denny O'Neil: "It would be a really sleazy stunt to bring him back."


By a complete coincidence, as Dor and I were discussing this book, a customer brought a copy of the current printing of this book up to the register to purchase. And, sure enough, the quotes are still on the back cover of this most recent edition (the twelfth printing, I believe). Given recent events in Batman, DC might want to consider quietly dropping at least O'Neil's quote from the back cover.

Now, don't get us wrong...both Dor and I think the return of Mr. Todd is a perfectly acceptable turn of events in the Batman comics, and actually not a bad idea for a Batman villain. Though, after the disappointing tease in Hush, it's no longer the shocking surprise it could have been. Ah, well.

EDIT: A quick Google search on O'Neil's quote shows that Dor and I aren't the only ones to notice...though we're probably the only ones to be amused by the whole situation!

* I'm already over my free bandwidth allotment for the month, so what's a few more gigabytes of transfer?

** Though the "Holy Ayatollah, Batman" one is pretty good, too.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A hearty "welcome back" to
Franklin Harris, whose hiatus was thankfully shorter than expected.

Things I shouldn't have to say at work: "No, I don't want to touch your waxy package."

Er...that's it, really. Yeah, I know, small update. What do you want for free?

EDIT: I apologize for the stupid typos in my previous post. And for the typos that may remain. And typos in this post as well.

H at the Comic Treadmill wrote up
a nice overview of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's Black Orchid mini-series, which featured a guest-appearance by your favorite swamp creature and mine, Swamp Thing. It also featured an appearance by a character named "Sterling," and, in honor of yours truly, H was good enough to illustrate his post with images that referenced this Mr. Sterling.

And that's where I got my new picture in that upper right hand spot on my website, featuring a phrase I'm sure at least some of you have thought to yourselves when reading my site in the past.

New comics day was yesterday, and unfortunately Diamond didn't ship several books to us (including Nightwing, Black Panther, Powers, and, alas, Blowjob)...hopefully they'll take pity on us and do an emergency ship for everything we were missing.

The new Alter Ego features articles and a checklist for the highly-regarded Golden Age artist Matt Baker, who died far too young. I've not seen this much information on him in the past, and, to be honest, I don't think I'd even seen a picture of him before. One of the articles does state that he passed on in '59, and apparently that had been a point of contention in the past (since Lambiek states he died in '57, while Wikipedia says '63). Whatever the year, I think we can all agree it was too tragically early. At any rate, the new AE has a lot of good info and plenty of art samples by Baker, and it's well worth picking up.

Hey, Brother Voodoo is in the new issue of Gambit! Finally, a popular character is appearing in that book! (Oh, relax, I kid.)

The new issue of New Thunderbolts (which is new, you know) has an in-story reference to a website called "Thunderblog" -- the address for which is www.marvel.com/thunderblog...and sure enough, it's live (and doesn't just redirect you to Newsarama, like the Hivejournal.com link from Intimates #5 does). For a second there, I thought the weblogs listed under "Blogs I Like" had live links as well, but alas, they're just there as sight gags. The very least they could have done is have "Hulk Blog" link to the one true Hulk weblog. I did smile at the Judy Blume joke, though.

And no new comics day can be entirely bad if there's a new issue of Flaming Carrot on the stands.

For no good reason whatsoever (aside from the fact that pal JP and I were talking about this particular item yesterday)...the DC Direct Bottled City of Kandor statue!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Via pal JP:
Chinese bootleg Batman comics from the '60s. JP likes the bootleg Batman, and who can blame him?

Here's a page full of bootleg Batman toys, via the mighty Bootlegactionfigures.com.

My favorite bootleg Batman toy (and I wish I could find the darn thing again) was a little blue plastic whistle that had a sticker of Batman on its side. However, Batman was colored with Robin's colors, so he had a red shirt, yellow cape, little green trunks, and so on.

"That's rad!" 

Invisoworld #1 (June 1987) by Gary Dunaier & Kurt Hathaway

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Overstreet Price Guide knows what you want. 

Excessive gore, violence & torture; bare-breasted mermaids story; atom bomb panels; Gabby Hayes ends; tongue ripped out; Betty & Veronica sell souls to Devil; bondage/hypodermic panel; eyeball story; nudity panels of Betty Brant; people cooked alive; "The Hot Rod Gang" dope crazy kids; nude female painting; dismemberment, decapitation, article on human flesh for sale, Devil, whipping; 'Commie' torture story "Drug-Diet Horror;" cheesecake photos of Hollywood stars; teenagers smoke reefers; origin of Hitler feature story; Plastic Man forced to smoke marijuana; electric chair issue; tells how rock music is Satanic & produced by witches; President Nixon app.; tomboy story "I Hated Being A Woman;" acid in face story; injury to eye panel; man holds hypo & splits in two; heart torn out, blood drainage; woman melted alive; silhouetted nudity panel; "I Joined a Teen-age Sex Club" story; eyes torn out; Gabby Hayes returns; lingerie panels; opium den drug use story; Archie dresses as his aunt; man attacks & kills people with electric iron; nudist ranch panel w/four girls; female heroin junkie story; "unholy passion" story; cover shows girl in bondage having her blood drained; Wolverine cameo.

Man, Richie Rich sure was different back then.

Image of Mister Mystery #12 (1953) taken from the back cover of issue #9 of New England Comics' much-missed Tales Too Terrible to Tell. Here's a better look at that cover.

All of the above descriptions quoted from the 35th edition of the Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, available at a comic shop near you.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Thought Balloons and Eat More People have come to an end...both were informative and fun weblogs, and it's sad to see them go. However, Kevin and Rick are now collaborating on Dark But Shining, more general purpose horror/sci-fi/fantasy weblog. Go check it out!

Marvel Team-Up #44 (April 1976)

I was planning on doing a full take-down of sorts on this particular issue of Marvel Team-Up...I was just preparing a bunch of '70s Marvels for our eBay auctions (have I mentioned our eBay auctions?), and for some reason, this particular comic stood out. However, as I'm looking at it...well, maybe I'll just point out a couple things about this comic rather than do a full synopsis.

First, take a look at the cover. (You can find a better scan of a cover here, since I'm trying to save bandwidth here with my crappy little image.) Yes, I know it's Gil Kane and Dan Adkins, so it can't be that bad. But, if you look at the image...well, the perspective just seems a bit off to me, even taking into consideration that the villain ("The Dark Rider") is a giant. I suppose it's technically correct, but the way everything is colored and arranged, it looks like Moondragon and the Scarlet Witch have suddenly shrunk down to doll-size. Second, aside from the artwork, this is one cluttered cover, even by '70s Marvel Team-Up standards. In addition to the primary cover image, you have:

  • the Marvel Team-Up logo
  • the logos for Spider-Man and Moondragon
  • the "Marvel Comics Group" banner across the top of the cover
  • the little bubbles with pics of Spidey and, er, Moonie (no, not that Moonie)
  • the "PLUS: GUEST STARS GALORE!" banner
  • multiple word balloons

I realize this is indicative of this kind of comic, but still...it's so darn busy!

The story itself (which is by Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema, and Mike Esposito, since I haven't mentioned it yet) is, at first glance, about as cluttered as the cover. Check out that "exposition, ahoy" panel...it not only covers what happened in the previous issue, but what had just happened only a page or two before. However, when you get right down to it, the story is basically "big bad guy stealing energy from protagonists to take over the universe," or something like that.

But, man, that's some panel. Hey, Spidey, who're you talkin' to, exactly?

The story ends on a surprisingly downbeat note as, after the battle is completed, Spidey rushes off to save some falsely-accused people from being executed for witchcraft...only to find that he's too late. More guilt is piled upon Mr. Parker...unless Dr. Strange can call up their ghosts to forgive Spidey as well. (Gee, why would Spider-Man need guilt? It's not like it's the primary motivator of the character or anything.)

A question that came up at the shop as pal Dorian and I were discussing that comic...was there a sudden rash of Moondragon appearances after the first Star Trek movie?

Since Marvel never met a fad it didn't like (well, to be fair, neither has DC), it seems like we would have seen a lot more Moondragon appearances to hopefully confuse casual comic fans into thinking that...I don't know, that Lieutenant Ilya had joined the Defenders, or something. However, a brief look at this chronological list of Moondragon appearances (complete up until a couple years ago) doesn't seem to show any more appearances after ST:TMP than before. Yeah, I know, the things we think about.

One reason I didn't really feel like making (much) fun of this book is that the writer of the book, Bill Mantlo, suffered a serious accident several years ago and remains, at least last I heard, in incapacitated condition. I wasn't a fan of all his work, but I enjoyed his Incredible Hulk run (a nice tribute to Mantlo's Hulk work can be found right here), and, as I noted before, his early Alpha Flight work (with Mike Mignola) was a guilty pleasure. It was downright creepy and unlike other superhero books of the time.

At the very least, you should read that Hulk essay and see how much of the Hulk's direction in recent years has its roots in Mantlo's work on the title.

Commenter Jim notes that it appears that our store's Sin City sales haven't seem to have dropped off completely, like most comics do when their movie adaptations are released. Well, that's true, sort of...the weekend after the movie was sort of the last peak in Sin City graphic novel interest, and it's been downhill ever since. We still have some slight interest from a handful of customers, but nothing like how it was before the movie came out (and especially nothing like how it was during that several month window that none of the books were in print). Especially frustrating is that the demand that is there is for the books that the movie is based on and are currently unavailable from Diamond.

I don't want this to be another Hellboy, where I couldn't get the books while the movie was driving interest...and now I can get all the books I want, but nobody cares anymore. However, it looks like Sin City will be following the same pattern.

Speaking of the Sin City, the Radiotiki internet radio show has a glowing review and some discussion of the film...go to this show log and click on "Part 5" for the stream. The review starts about six minutes in. (Note for those of you folks at work...review contains adult language, by which I don't mean words like "escrow" and "retirement plan.")

Sunday, April 10, 2005

My day, and welcome to it. 

  • As I was putting together my reorders for the week, I discovered (surprise surprise) no volumes of the Sin City trade paperback line are currently in stock at Diamond. Oh, well, it'll save me money in the long run, since once they are available to us again, demand will almost certainly have dissipated and I won't need to order so many copies.

  • I'm also in the process of restocking our Star Wars graphic novels, in anticipation of one final "hurrah" for SW sales prior to the last movie's release. It seems like I have to reorder Darth Maul every week. Oh, and the second volume of the Clone Wars Adventures digest series is finally available to us again, after about...two months, maybe? SW books that never sell: the ones that reprint the original Marvel series, and the X-Wing Rogue Squadron books.

  • Old pal (and former coworker) Rob called me shortly after we opened today, to inform me that as he was driving by the store, he spotting a person in a sheep costume standing at the end of the block. Quickly walking outside to see for myself, I was relieved to discover said sheep-costumed person was advertising the recently-opened mattress store on the corner, waving at passerby and holding a big "SALE" sign...and not, for example, heading down the street to our shop with the intention of drunkenly raging at our customers and throwing half-emptied beer bottles at our walls.

  • Two Chasing Amy references in a row: a person wearing this shirt (which took me a moment to recognize), and a customer recreating the "What's a Nubian?" scene from the beginning of the film.

Another contest: The Spatula Forum is giving away copies of cartoonist Jason Marcy's books...just tell him what the name of your autobiography would be! You've got until April 29th, so get busy, you.

In other news:

Four Realities takes a gander at the Super Jrs. digest.

More Super Jrs. shenanigans.

Pal JP comes through with more Super Jrs terror:
an eBay auction for Super Jrs squeak toys!

Also on the eBay: homemade Sin City Magic the Gathering cards. Your choice of Nancy, Shellie, or Miho. Sexy and unauthorized!

I keep forgetting to plug this contest: go enter Comic Book Galaxy's James Kochalka giveaway! No, they're not giving away James Kochalka...they're giving away copies of his newest project, Super F*ckers! Yes, that's right, Super F*ckers...ask for it by name. The grand prize winner gets an original painting by the super-star himself, as well as other goodies, including an American Elf hardcover. Go check it out, internet pals.

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Copyright © 2003-10 Mike Sterling. Some images used are copyright © their respective copyright owners.

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