mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, October 08, 2005

from The Comic Reader #99 (July 1973) - by Carl Gafford

Friday, October 07, 2005

The joke is on you. 

(by request of Jay in Tennessee)

The Ha-Hacienda, your online guide to all things Joker-y.

An absolutely terrifying Joker painting.

An index to the Golden Age appearances of the Joker.

"The Joker from TV's Batman Giclee Print!"

Here's a bio and interesting pic for the Joker from the fan-written alternate Batman history, "Ghetto Batman." (Don't blame me.)

The Joker is somewhere in this collection of Batman: The Animated Series POGs.

Joker robot!

Batman movie Joker Kubrick! AAAAAH!

WARNING - SELF-LINK: I discuss the ending of The Killing Joke (under March 4th - may need to scroll to it), and how it can be read as the death of the Joker. (This previous version of a Wikipedia article on The Killing Joke had included a huge chunk of that post of mine in the body of the article. It's since been removed from the current version. I'm still in the Brian Bolland article, though!)

The Joker loves his Hostess Cakes! (The last panel of this ad is actually laugh-out-loud funny.)

Batman versus the Joker, Hembeck-style.

Seems like every comic book character has been adapted to the Hero System role playing game, and the Joker is no exception.

I don't know who brought this to our attention first, but here's a good overview of the "Joker's Boner" comics that swept the internet a few months ago.

And as long as we're on the topic....

An image of Conrad Veidt from The Man Who Laughs - said to have inspired the Joker's appearance.

The Cesar Romero Tribute Page features a photo gallery with images of the actor as the Joker on the '60s Batman TV show.

A synopsis and review of the Joker: Last Laugh crossover mini-series.

The Silver Age Batgirl and Joker action figure set is reviewed.

"Who created the Joker?"

Joker Micro-heroes.

You The Man Now Dog.com presents - Lex Luthor and the Joker. This kills me...if you visit no other link in this post, you must see this one.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Well, if you didn't buy your copy of Absolute Watchmen yesterday, you go right back to your funnybook store today and get your copy. Go ahead, I'll wait.


Got it? Good. Now enjoy the heck out of it, because it's the best thing that came out this week.

A very close second is this year's edition of Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror, reuniting Swamp Thing creators Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson on a parody of their creation...

..."Squish Thing." Pick it up...tell 'em Mike sent you. (Oh, and there's a Dracula story by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan, plus work by some other guys like, oh, say, John Severin, and Angelo Torres, and Mark Schultz, and Al Williamson...you know, no one you'd be interested in.) Honestly, though, the folks at Bongo Comics outdo themselves every year on their Halloween specials, and every one of them is chock-full of talent and worth picking up.

John Severin drawing the Simpsons. Fantastic.

Also new this week is the
Trencher trade paperback from BOOM! Studios, which I mention here because 1) it's Keith Giffen, for pete's sake, and 2) our store was...intimately involved in the production of this item. No, not like that, we all kept our pants on, but we helped deliver that baby! Um, perhaps I could have phrased that better.

I'm already sick of this Spider-Man: The Other crossover series, and all we've seen so far is the sketchbook.

So, earlier this year, as part of DC's ongoing company-wide retooling, the character of Blue Beetle was killed off, as you may have heard. And, as what usually happens when a second (or third) stringer character is offed, suddenly he became the Most Beloved Character Ever, and everyone bemoaned the senseless waste of a character so full of potential.

And now, Mikester of Progressiveruin.com shall predict...THE FUTURE!

2006: DC Comics announces a new Blue Beetle series, reviving the concept with a new character (or, perhaps, a previously established but otherwise currently unused one) in the title role.

Because of the publicity and apparent outpouring of love for Blue Beetle following the character's death, interest seems high in this new series. Interest may be especially high if said Blue Beetle relaunch spins out of the best-selling Infinite Crisis series. Retailers order good numbers, and when the issue finally comes out, it sells very well. It may even possibly sell out, requiring a second, or even a third, printing, all with different covers, and so on.

Sales remain relatively strong for a few months, possibly still riding the post-Infinite Crisis buzz.

Then, once the fallout from Infinite Crisis finally settles down, and the new status quo of the DC Universe is established, most of the people buying the new Blue Beetle series will realize, "hey, you know what, it turns out we actually didn't like the Blue Beetle that much after all." Sales drop, retailers cut the book down to Breach or Arana or Doom Patrol numbers, and the book is finally put out of its misery in mid/late 2007.

And that's pretty much it for the new Blue Beetle. Well, aside from a cameo in 2008's Sue Dibny: Rebirth.

It looks like a couple spam sites made it onto the Comics Weblog Update-A-Tron 3000. DARN YOU SPAM! ("Spam" as in the unsolicited internet content, not the delightful and versatile meat product.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The observational powers and racial sensitivity of Green Arrow. 

"You're Black Lightning, aren't you?" Well, duh.

By the way, G.A., I know you meant it only as a diminutive version of Black Lightning's superhero moniker, but you may want to rethink the nickname...someone might take it the wrong way:

Way to bail on Black Lightning, too, G.A. "Oh, this is your fight, I'll just be...well, I'm busy that night, sorry, man."

(from World's Finest #259 (May 1979) by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin & Frank Chiaramonte)

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

So it's finally happened...I've been suckered into rebuying a movie on DVD that I already own on DVD, just for the special features. The movie in this case is Star Trek Nemesis, which I had bought the first time because...well, lemme 'splain.

The initial release of the Star Trek films on DVD were bare-bones editions. Your special features were pretty much "sound" and "color," and maybe a trailer, and that's it. Had I been an early DVD adopter, I probably would have picked those up as they came out. However, by the time I got around to getting a DVD player for myself, most of them had already been released, and the general feeling that I picked up from various news sources was that new editions with extra material would eventually be released.

And, sure enough, they were. Two-disc sets were released for each film, a few months apart, in the same order they were released in theatres, with tons of bonus features for each flick. (My favorite bonus is probably the text commentaries that "pop up" as you're watching the film.)

Well, Nemesis came and went in the theatres, as a week after its debut Lord of the Rings came along and demolished pretty much every other film in release. The DVD for Nemesis came out shortly thereafter, and unlike the other initial DVDs of the previous films, this one did have extra material: deleted scenes, director's commentary, even an extra bonus mini CD-ROM with computer goodies. I figured, "hey, they won't need to do a special two-disc edition...they got everything on it the first time!"

Yeah, I know, that was a stupid thing to think. I should have realized that having all the films except one in the two-disc "special collector's edition" format was going to irk some fan somewhere, and that Paramount was eventually going to have to put one out anyway.

Well, they certainly did. I have it sitting on my desk, right here next to the computer as I write this. Comparing it to the old DVD, it looks like all of the special features from the first disc are on the new set, assuming the director's commentary is the same (which it certainly must be). There's also an extra commentary track from Rick Berman, and the aforementioned text commentary, plus more behind-the-scenes documentaries and such. I don't know if there's going to be any focus in the extra features about this film being a franchise-killer or not (the film itself wasn't bad, really, and I think at this point more people think Enterprise killed the franchise anyway)...I don't imagine so. (Unless the director mentioned it in his commentary...I never did get around to listening to it.)

Yeah, I know, this isn't really about comics, unless I want to make some tortured comparison between this habit of some studios to release enhanced versions of DVDs released only a short time ago, and, say, "director's cut" versions of comic books that come out only a couple weeks ago.

But I think I'd rather go watch the DVD instead. I'll let you know how it is!

Hey. Hey, you. Matt Maxwell has moved his weblog from the Blogspot address to
Highway-62.com/blog. Update your links accordingly, or punishment will ensue.

Speaking of Mr. Maxwell, the man doesn't just talk about the funnybooks, but he writes 'em as well. He was good enough to send me a preview ashcan of his forthcoming series Strangeways, the cover of which is off to the right, there, though you can see a nice color version at the official site.

The one-line description for the comic is "werewolves in the old west," and it's the latest in the western/horror cross-genre wave. The story here is essentially setting up the situation for the series -- light on plot, heavy on mood and action -- but it works fine as an introduction to the characters, as well as to what may be the werewolf's motivation for his attacks. Maxwell's dialogue is sharp and to the point, pushing the narrative along with an economy of words and a good dollop of suspense. The art, provided by Luis Guragna, reminds me in a way of a more rough-hewn Steve Bissette and John Totleben from their Swamp Thing days: dark, moody, scratchy and heavily textured.

The first issue will be out in November at your better comic shops...look for that Steve Lieber cover.

In other news:

Kevin Smith gets an account on Ain't It Cool News -- entire nerd-web gets sucked into resulting black hole.

I'm still answering questions, though I think I'll keep it to that original comments section for the time being. So ask away, darn your eyes.

Monday, October 03, 2005

More questions, more answers:

asks "Are my brother and I the only people who remember (and still own) The Amazing Slapstick?"

No, no, I remember Slapstick...in fact, I believe he was the first (only?) Marvel Comics character to make his first appearance in a trading card set, rather than a comic book. And judging by the number of people who reference Slapstick to me at the store, I'm sure plenty of others remember him as well.

Chris wants to know "what superhero has a weakness to pure metals?"

Mon-El has a weakness to lead, which is pretty much all I can think of off the top of my head. Though, I'm pretty sure, there's a character out there for whom Gold is his (or her) Kryptonite.

Pal Dan asks "what are you going to do after popular culture finally implodes?"

Go to Disneyla...oh, wait, that'll be gone, too.

Shane hits me with more questions: "Who's the man?" (Stan Lee.) "Where's the beef?" (Right here.) "Why are we here?" (To read my site. Oh, you mean in general. You're on your own, there.) "What's the answer?" (42.) "Why me?" (You had it comin'.)

Pal Evilbeard takes me to task for not directly answering his Hawkgirl question: "Oh sure you'll answer their high falutin' questions directly but perfectly innocent question about Hawkgirl only gets a passing mention."

So, once and for all, here is the question he asked me in e-mail:

"Well in that episode [of Justice League Unlimited], Hawkgirl clearly spent the night with a guy she had just met and seemed awfully happy about it. What I want to know is when she was at the height of sexual pleasure would she moan like a human woman or get her feathers all ruffled and scream out 'Caw! Caw! Caw!?'"

My answer was that, yes, she went "caw caw caw," because now I have that vision stuck in my head, and I want it stuck in all of yours, too.

Pal Dorian asks "why do you hate America?"

What, are you trying to get me on a list, somewhere? (I'm probably already on a list because of this.)

The High Priest of the Church of Klugman (long may he wave) queries "do you like gladiator movies?"

Just the ones where the barely-dressed men, sweaty in the studio lights sun, wrestle each other and smack their long, hard swords together in passion.

And H asks "who is Chalk?"

Oh, I know who Chalk is, but I'll never tell!

Here are answers to some of the questions asked of me so far...
ask your own questions...if you dare.

Shane asks: "What are some of your favorite comics in your personal collection not counting Swamp Thing?"

Hoo boy, lots and lots...Groo the Wanderer is about as perfect a comic book as has ever been created, and my complete Groo run is one of my treasures. Other favorites include my runs of Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Not Brand Echh, Zot!, Grimjack, It's Science with Dr. Radium, Love & Rockets (including the original self-published #1), Nexus, Ralph Snart (the good ones, by Marc Hansen), Howard the Duck, Man-Thing, Don Rosa's duck books, the Carl Barks library reprints, anything by Kim Deitch...I could probably go on and on. (You know, like I usually do.)

As for favorite individual issues, here are a few I've discussed in the past: Justice League of America #200, Detective Comics #500, and Flash #300. I loves me the anniversary issues.

Gordon asks two questions: "If there is one trend that you would like to see flourish - that is starting now in comics, and that you want to see continue -what would it be?"

That's a hard question, really...the one trend I would like to see continue is the prevalence of original, inexpensive graphic novels, such as those from AiT/Planetlar and Oni. That's hardly a new trend, I know, but it's one I encourage. (Note, to some folks who might take this wrong way...that doesn't mean I want the monthly books replaced by GNs...I like my monthly funnybooks!)

Gordon's question #2: "Plus, who would win in a fight - the Incredible Hulk or Rush Limbaugh?"

In a fistfight, Hulk obviously has the edge. In a battle of wits...well, that would probably be a draw.

Mark asks: "Mike Allred's adaptation of the Book of Mormon sells like hotcakes here in Utah. Indy hotcakes, but hotcakes nonetheless. Is it even a blip on the radar in your store?"

I thought I'd mentioned this on the site before, but all I actually did was link to a story about a Utah store selling loads of the thing. At our store, our regular Mike Allred fans tried out the first issue...and none of them came back for the second installment.

Roger asks three questions: "1. How much do you spend annually on your own (personal, not store) comic (or comic-related) collection? A rough breakdown by the stapled stuff, graphic novels, and other stuff. Breakdown by Marvel, DC and other."

Oh, goodness, I hate thinking about how much I spend on my funnybooks. As much as I love comics, it just depresses me. Anyway, I don't spend nearly as much on comics as I used to (being a homeowner can do that to you), but a rough estimate would be about $20-$25 weekly, so, maybe, $1000 - $1300 a year? (I get more than that sounds, since I get a significant discount through the store.) Plus, there's the very occasional action figure, which can bump up the weekly total a bit.

I'm a longtime DC fan, so I spent a lot more on that company than on Marvel...if I were to break it down, it would probably be about 50% DC, 40% other, 10% Marvel. I mostly buy stapled comics, with the occasional graphic novel...not sure of a breakdown there, unfortunately.

"2. If you weren't a comic book entrepreneur, what would you be doing?"

I haven't the foggiest. Starving writer, maybe? Most likely, I'd probably be a librarian...I enjoyed my library-employment days.

3. What was the first comic book series you ever collected?"

I'd been reading comics pretty much as long as I've been able to read, so I had my fair share of Donald Duck and Superman comics as a very young child. But, I think the comic book series that actually got me interested in trying to get all the issues and follow the month-to-month narrative was Marvel's Star Wars spin-off in '77. I'm sure being gobsmacked by the Star Wars movie had nothing to do with it.

Milo asks: "How often is Endemic Treponematosis discussed in the store?"

Not nearly enough, Milo. Such is our shame.

Feel free to ask me more questions...get more thrilling and insightful answers like the ones above!

The newest installment of my column
"Mike Sterling's Behind the Counter" is up at the new Comic Book Galaxy. Includes a photo guide to pulling a comic book out of a store's back issue bin...I've been wanting to put up a big sign with photos like those by our back issues for years.

I'd been otherwise occupied for the last day or so, and thus haven't really had the time to put together my usual Monday installment for this website. So, to borrow an idea from esteemed weblogging colleagues Roger and Gordon, I would like you folks to ask me questions...comic book related questions, preferably. Any topics you'd like me to pontificate on? Let me know! I'll check in throughout the day and update the site with my answers.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Popular sellers at the store, lately:

Sonic the Hedgehog - sells very well to children, and has done so for years. Probably one of our top movers in the back issue department as well. It's the only comic some kids read.

Batman Adventures (and the other Batman animated series-based comics) - they're usually consistent back issue sellers, but over the last few weeks they've just been flying out the door. Mostly kids are buying these, but some adults as well. It's interesting to note that most of the people buying the Batman Adventures titles couldn't care less about the regular Batman line of books. (I know it was the only Bat-book I bought consistently for over a decade.)

Preacher trade paperbacks - sales off our Vertigo bookshelves seem to go in waves. The Vertigo trades are always good sellers, but occasionally one title will see a marked increase in sales. For a while there, we couldn't keep Fables books in stock. Then all of a sudden, Y The Last Man trades were selling faster than I could restock them. Then Lucifer was the hot item. Right now, and for the last month or two, Preacher books are the in-demand item.

Cheap issues of '60s Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America, and Daredevil - we've got a reputation for strict grading and reasonable pricing, if I may toot our own horn a little, so people looking for reading copies of '60s Marvels know that they can generally get them from us for cheap. (Or, if I were a
cynical man, I'd say that they could get VG copies for cheap from us, that they could resell as VFs.) No demand for early Doctor Strange, only a little demand for X-Men, and we had demand for early Fantastic Four, but, as usual, the movie put a stop to that.

Pal Dorian: "Remember that conversation on your site about how Batgirl was able to beat Lady Shiva in a fight?"

Me: "I had a conversation about that? On my site?"

Dor: "Yes."

Me: "I need to put a stop to that sort of behavior."

(It's uncanny how Dorian is able to insert hypertext links into his speech.)

"Violent comic books and judgments of relational aggression."

Yeah, this is a lazy post. More tonight, hopefully.

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