mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Just some random stuff I've listed on the eBay. 

So I have on my hard drive a folder filled with thousands of scans of items that I've listed on the eBay over the years...no, I have no idea why I still have them either, but you never know when you might need a scan of a Transformers comic pre-pack:

This next photo is a tad blurry, so you're just gonna have to take my word that on this pair of X-Men holographic glasses, Wolverine is facing off against the Juggernaut...or something like that, anyway. Nothing says "cool" like a pair o' these:

Several years ago, we had one of these figures opened up at the store..."I've got claws, I can use them" was a catchphrase around the shop for perhaps a little too long:

You know, as promotional freebie gifts go, a flimsy little foil sticker is kinda lame:

Rob Liefeld's 7-inch Shaft...old joke, still funny:

And now...10-INCH GIANT MAUL:

Friday, May 12, 2006

Sigh...once again, I apologize in advance. 

Surely the person who started this thread knew it wasn't going to end well:

"not trying to be gay or anything.... "

"....but has anyone else noticed that on the blue beetle cover #2* his 'package' so to speak seems to.... stand out........"

"It's okay, most men check out the competion at the gym. Or urinal. Or comic book cover,"

"No I think both of you guys are gay. I don't check out other 'men' at the urinal or at the gym. Non of my male friends check out other 'men' at the urinal or the gym. As a matter of fact, the idea to check out any part of another man's body has never occurred to me. So my guest is you are both gay. Well maybe not the first guy who might have noticed it by accident. That is to say without looking at the cartoon's package. The second guy who defended the idea of looking at a cartoon and taking a peep at the guy next to you at the urinal. The second guy is gay."

"don't believe you and i think you might be gay as you seem very afraid of it."

"No I never have. I went to catholic school we had a gym locker. I showered next to other guys in school. I never looked at another guys joint. [...] The idea of looking comparing or whatever gay term you want to use for checking out a guys package has never been in my head. But, I grew up in Brooklyn N.Y. I guess other parts of the world are naturally more gay."

"Dude- you are so gay. How much time do you spend thinking about how Not Gay you are? Couple hours a day?"

Okay, back to the topic at hand:

"I think it is a codpiece. I haven't looked at it myself, but a lot of armor designs have codpieces to protect men's bits and intimidate the enemy. It is sort of like an athletic supporter with a cup inside of it. It is most likely part of Blue Beetle's armor/exoskeleton that protects his bits from being kicked or punched."

"i looked at the cover and the costume is not thin enough bec. i cannot see the 2 balls distinctly bec. i am quite sure there should be"

"Maybe the new Blue Beetle is the new gay character? Or he could be the DC counterpart to Spider-Man who makes people gay by looking at him?"

"i think the gay community can give dc artists some advice on how to draw the bulges on a gay superhero to avoid adding any more art mistakes to the many in infinite crisis 1-7."

"I have the utmost faith in Phil Jimenez as both artist and consultant when it comes to package design."


"i just made a topic based on a friends observation because i figured someone would get a laugh out of it, but guess this has turned into the psychology of being gay class, its very odd.....but hey who am i complaining its kinda funny seeing the reactions of evryone on this board"

The final word:
"Frankly, I think you're ALL gay.

Not that there's anything wrong with that."

PLEASE DON'T FEED THE FETISHIST - found while forum-hopping...no link, it's pretty much just this:

"I was just wondering if anyone can post a scan of supergirl using her frost/super breath if not how about her eye beam?"

* The final printed version covers the area in question.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

So Employee Nathan was putting away this comic today:

...when he pointed out the slightly peculiar wording used in this particular blurb:

...which immediately reminded me of

"Flash and Green Lantern face their greatest challenge in...'The Mouthwatering Menace of Mutual Cannibalism!' (Story: Gardner Fox / Art: Gil Kane & Sid Greene)"

I ain't scared of no weekly comical book. 

Your out-of-context quote from new comics day:

"Devo sweat? You're soaking in it!"

Okay, so it was I who dared to say such a thing, while I was reminiscing with pal Tom about how I saw Devo during their first reunion tour in the late '80s. I was pressed up against the dead center of the stage, with Mark Mothersbaugh flinging his Devo sweat right upon me. AND I NEVER SHOWERED AGAIN.

Anyway, back to comics:

Kid Chris speaks briefly about that comic book-themed UCLA radio show he was on yesterday morning. I only got to listen to it for about half an hour, just long enough to hear pal Ian's call and his vain attempts to get a word in edgewise what with all the excitable college students and uncooperative equipment. Plus, I heard Kid Chris totally slam Swamp Thing. Hey, Chris, remember that "former employee discount" you used to have....?

Oh, relax, Kid Chris fans, I'm just joshin' him. Maybe.

52 #1 - Well, here we go, the first installment of the next year of your comics-readin' life. I do like the idea of a weekly comic, and this issue is a strong start, with a nice interweaving of several characters and plotlines (and a cameo appearance by Mr. Mind, a fave of mine). Nice art, strong creative team, interesting concept...I think there's a danger of some weekly-comic fatigue from the fans after a few months, though, particularly from the people who don't want to still be thinking about the impact of Infinite Crisis nine months after the fact.

But I'm not some ordinary, weak-kneed, lily-livered comics fan. You think a weekly comic can break me? Bring it, suckas.

Quick shots:

Mad Magazine #466 - Since Stephen Colbert has been in the public eye of late, I thought I should note that the new ish of Mad contains screenshots and a transcripts of The Colbert Report's birthday tribute to Fold-In master Al Jaffee.

Angel Spotlight: Illyria - A sorta sad and quiet issue, um, aside from the action scenes, nicely written by Peter David.

Spike: Lost and Found - An improvement on the last one-shot, which was pretty crappy, with a story more of interest to longtime fans, regarding a second Gem of Amarrah. Don't worry if you don't know what that means...I do, but then I'm a professional nerd.

Last Planet Standing #1 - Employee Nathan pointed out Galactus' use of the term "Final Solution" in this comic, which we all agree seems like kind of a bad idea.

Will Eisner's John Law: Angel's Ashes Devil's Dust #1 - No comment about the contents...just wanted to say I got a real Kitchen Sink Press vibe off the way this comic looks.

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 4 - More crazy JLA/JSA team-ups, including one that throws in the Legion of Super-Heroes too. They better have given artist Dick Dillin hazard pay for that story.

You know, doing these really brief comments about various comics make me want to do another discussion of every comic that comes out in a single week (here's the last time I did it). But then I wait a while, and the feeling eventually goes away.

In other news:

E.C. Segar's Thimble Theatre is being rereleased in hardcover. GOOD. I missed Fantagraphics' reprinting the first time around (though I've been able to borrow and read 'em). Six affordable volumes, which I think are going to reprint the whole run...this is good news. Tom Spurgeon promises more info, so watch this space. Or, rather, Tom's space.

Via pal Dorian:


It's a freakin' Grumpy prop from Land of the Lost. If you buy me this, I'll be your special internet friend. (But not with "benefits" -- sorry, Kevin.)

* You don't really have to buy me this. Honest. I'm not legally responsible if you spend several thousand dollars on this item to send to some guy you've never met, just because he told you to do so on his stupid weblog.

It's...(sniff)...it's okay.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Oh no he didn't. 

I just heard Kid Chris openly mock Swamp Thing on UCLA Radio.

He'll pay for this. Oh, how he'll pay.

Another look at Marvel Super Heroes POGs. 

Well, a good chunk of them are just pictures of the characters, with their logos:

Then there are a handful of group shots:

Some group shots are "themed," such as "Brusiers" (with Hulk, Venom, and the Thing), or "Fire 'N Ice" (Human Torch and Iceman), or this one, featuring a skull motif:

This one brings up some vague memories of the Great POG Scare of the early '90s, particularly that the "skull" POGs were considered more desirable, for some reason. Or maybe I'm confusing them with the "poison" POGs (not to be confused with these guys)...or maybe the skull POGs and the poison POGs were the same thing. I don't remember. I don't really want to remember.

At any rate, the themes get a little strained, like this one:

Because, you see, the Thing is rocky, and Ghost Rider...rolls, I guess, since he has a motorcycle. ROCK AND ROLL, DUDE.

And there are quite a few POGs that just have logos:

The sample pack we opened was primarily just logo POGs.

All those images above were taken from a promo poster we were sent a few days back, by the way. I'm half-tempted to put it up in the store just to see customer reactions: "No, not POGs! Not again! Nooooooooo-"(deep breath) "-ooooooooo!"

I think this attempted POG collectible revival may be about five-to-ten years too early for the typical 20-year "nostalgia gap" that most things like this seem to have. Assuming, of course, there will be nostalgic interest in these at any point in the future...most of my customers who had bought them as young'uns seem embarrassed by it now, and in my case, I'm embarrassed that I even sold them here at the shop.

Given that the superhero trading card market is fairly moribund (it primarily consists of people not buying new cards, but trying to sell their old Marvel sets to us and being surprised that they're not worth much of anything now), I don't think the tangentially-related superhero POG market is going to take off. Unless, of course, they sell it as a gaming item (since there is a game of sorts associated with POGs, mainly involving throwing things at other things) to the kids buying the Yu-Gi-Oh collectible card game and the like, but even the CCG market sorta looks like it's slowing down.

POGs. Geez, of all the things I thought I'd never have to deal with again....

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Free Comic Book Day 2006 - The Final Chapter. 

Some final comments on this year's Free Comic Book Day:

I've had a few reports show up in my comments sections from over the weekend (1, 2) which make me very glad things went as smoothly as they did our store. Commenter Jamie in particular has my sympathies, judging from his description of how his local event went, with people grabbing comics out of kids' hands and loud, obnoxious people driving out other paying customers.

Fortunately, we also didn't have any problem with people assuming everything was free and walking out with a pile of, say, the new Infinite Crisis. We avoided that problem by setting up a couple big tables right by the front door, spreading out all the FCBD books, and having the people manning those tables let people know as soon as they walk in the door "hey, all the free comics are right here." And, as in past years, we divided the comics into three age groups - kids, teens, and grown-ups - and packed the comics into color-coded bags. Kids got the bag with all the kids comics, teens got the teen bag and the kid bag, and adults got all three. Thus, no panic grabbing...comics were handed out in an orderly fashion, and if people didn't want all the comics, they could pick and choose off the tables.

I had a question from someone asking if our business improved for that day...business as in "taking in money," not just "warm bodies milling about the store," and the answer is, yes, sales were up for that day. I know that wasn't the case for everybody, particularly those stores afflicted with the magpies who just want to grab the free stuff because it's free. However, we had enough new faces come in the door that day who took a look around the shop and found items that they hadn't been exposed to before and just had to buy. For example, we had that boxed set of DC Direct Justice League action figures that had been kicking around the shop for a while...a dad came in with his kids, saw the set, thought that was just the neatest thing he'd ever seen, and purchased it for his children. We had another fellow who used FCBD as an opportunity to finally come in and ask about work by Los Bros. Hernandez and Dan Clowes...and came back the very next day to use one of our discount coupons to buy one of Clowes' books.

I know there is some concern as to whether or not FCBD actually does anything to generate new comic book readers to any sizeable extent, and the only real answer is "I don't know." Like Tim says, there is no industry-wide method of keeping track of new customer influx aside from, say, someone like me noticing a fellow like the guy who came back and bought a Dan Clowes book. And maybe, in the short run, no, the industry as a whole may not get a whole lot of new converts to the cause, but if we got a couple, certainly there must be a few more, somewhere. At the very least, FCBD does the job of increasing the general public's awareness of comic books. I don't think I've had the comment of "oh, comic books, they still make these?" in quite a while.

Even if it doesn't bring in a lot of new people, there's still the chance that, as I've noted in the past, regular customers will be exposed to comics they wouldn't otherwise have tried. Queen & Country and Courtney Crumrin benefited from FCBD in previous years. It's too soon to say which will be the breakout title this year...but it better be Owly. That was my favorite from this new batch.

Another question I had was just how much it would cost a retailer to participate. Well, the minimum buy-in is $5 worth of each Gold Sponsor book, for a total of $50 (which, assuming an average cost of about 25 cents, gives you 200 comics to give away). That doesn't sound like a whole lot, which can make people wonder how some stores can claim they can't afford to participate. I certainly thought that, until I considered something. Say you're a store, and you bought the minimum number of books. You have 20 copies each of 10 different books that you're going to give away on FCBD. If you have 200 people show up at your store, you're either going to have to give everyone just one free comic (which will make most of the customers complain) or you can give 50 people four copies each, or 20 people one of each comic...or however you do it, you're gonna run out in short order. So, realistically, you're going to have to order way above the minimum...which may then be cost-prohibitive for smaller stores with smaller budgets. At least, I hope that's the reasoning behind the folks who say it costs too much, and not "Fifty bucks!? Why, that's seventy-two and a half 69-cent tacos! Forget it!"

We always order lots of extras, especially on the kid-friendly books, as we continue to use them throughout the year. I'm still giving away copies of Teen Titans Go from...was it last year? I don't remember. Anyway, I'm still giving them to kids who come in the store, along with the Disney books, and they're almost always well received. Plus, when our local libraries make their regular comic purchases from us, we also donate a bunch of the FCBD comics to them as well. And my girlfriend gives them away to the kids she teaches at Sunday school...we get plenty of mileage on the FCBD books all year long.

So was it a success? Well, we gave away a lot of comics, made a bunch of people happy, made some money, and hopefully got a new customer or two out of it. In the long run, that's good for business, even if in the short run, it looks like it made only a small impact on expanding the customer base. It takes small steps, sometimes.

That was a lot to plow through, so here, have a panel of Linus JUST SAYING NO:

Hotlinked by a Myspace user in 3...2....

Monday, May 08, 2006

I can't read everything

(Inspired by pal Dorian, who was inspired by Chris, who was inspired by this Newsarama discussion) (EDIT: But it apparently started here)

The abandoned plot point. 

So in the Superman: The Ten Cent Adventure one-shot from a couple years back, Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White confronts Clark Kent about Kent's passport, found dusty and forgotten in a storage closet. If Kent has been travelling around the world, reporting on important international events, White rightfully wonders, how is it that his passport is unused? The chief's pretty steamed about it:

And how does Clark get out of it? "Sorry to run, Perry, but I see Jimmy Olsen over there! We'll have to discuss this later!" And he dashes off to perform some super-action, leaving Perry to wonder...

...though apparently Perry doesn't dwell on it, as we never hear about this passport thing ever again.

Now this was an interesting idea, I thought, though it does make Clark/Superman look a little dopey (oh, if only he had some kind of secret Arctic fortress in which he could hide stuff like this). His double identity is put on the spot, and if he owns up to never using his passport (since, unknown to Perry, he simply flew to where he needed to go under his own power), all of his reporting suddenly becomes suspect. From Perry's perspective, either Clark made all these international stories up, or he otherwise misrepresented his involvement in procuring the story (using secondary sources rather than investigating firsthand, as it's implied Perry had believed). Either way, his credibility takes a hit (admittedly more in the former case than the latter).

Or Clark could just own up to Perry that he's Superman, but then that brings up the old question of Clark's ethics (having got his job at the Planet by reporting a story on himself as Supes, and continuing to report on himself over the years).

But it's a moot point since, as I said, Clark and Perry never speak of it again, to the best of my memory.

Another plot point that came and went was in Saga of the Swamp Thing #16 (1983), where Swamp Thing and crew exhume the body of Linda Holland, only to find that the body had already been taken. Swampy makes reference to having found "that device...designed to keep people away...from those graves...!"

Huh? What device? I don't remember any device being found in any issues of Swamp Thing leading up to this. Well, according to the footnote, the story of said device would be told in an upcoming issue of the Superman team-up book DC Comics Presents...which also never happened. The next issue of DCCP to feature Swamp Thing was this one, and it had nothing to do with Linda Holland's grave or devices guarding it.

This wasn't nearly as annoying as the Superman's passport situation...where that was an interesting complication in Superman's life that was tossed away, making both Clark and Perry look foolish as a result, the Swamp Thing plot point was just an unexplained aside that didn't really impact the story one way or the other. Plus, as Alan Moore took over and drove the book into an all-new, horrific direction, the many subplots and tangents from the earlier issues suddenly seemed less important. That particular DC Comics Presents story never came to pass, but no one much missed it, either.

Any other subplots/plot points you can think of that just fell to the wayside like that? Stuff that seemed like it should be a big deal, but just dried up, disappeared, or otherwise amounted to nothing?

On a slightly related note, the new volume of The Complete Peanuts 1959-60 featured the following strip, which I remembered reading in one of the paperback reprints as a young Mikester, and recalled this punchline every time one of Snoopy's numerous brothers turned up in the strip:

The volume also contains this strip, which has nothing to do with forgotten/altered storylines, but does seem to feature a huge ol' typo on Schulz' part:

Given the context in which it's used, and the lack of reasons why Lucy would just suddenly shout "BOING!" -- it seems that Schulz left the letter "R" out of the word "boring." I'm sure it's been noted before by somebody, and probably old news to Nat, but couldn't find any references. Still, just thought that was interesting.

I probably have some final thoughts on Free Comic Book Day, but I'll get to those tomorrow. I need a break from thinking about the free books!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Free Comic Book Day...the bloody aftermath. 

Regarding the Twomorrows free magazine offer (extended through today)...I don't know if there was a glitch in their system or what, but a fellow in Texas ordered a copy of Back Issue #10 which, somehow, was attached to my billing address (though the fellow's shipping address in Texas appears as well). Therefore, my account at Twomorrows currently looks like I ordered a second free magazine (which is verboten). I sent an e-mail to their support department indicating that I ordered only one mag, I swear, and hopefully they'll see that before they see that there are two free mags on my account and cancel them both.

At least, I hope it's a glitch in the system and not someone deliberately screwing with me, which would make me very unhappy.

Did anyone else doing the free mag thing experience a similar glitch, or was I the lucky one?

As for Free Comic Book Day:

It's 10:15. The store is filled with kids and their parents. They're just swarming all over the place. And it's at that point a regular customer comes in and asks to go through all of our adult comic back issue boxes. It's not like he announced it to the whole store or anything...he did ask quietly, but as you might imagine, I didn't particularly want someone perusing the naughty books in full view of everyone. And no, I didn't have anyplace else to put him. Luckily, by just having him flip through the comics in the boxes without yanking them up for all to see, we managed to keep it fairly discrete, but still, that wasn't an issue I was expecting to deal with on FCBD.

Otherwise, it was busy most of the day, with the occasional welcome lull...and pal Dorian stopped by midway through the day with sodas and fries for all of us, which was nice of him to do, the ol' softie.

No problems of note...no "are these the only free comics?" or "I want 50 copies of Superman/Batman...NOW!" or anything like that. Had a few kids acting up (a couple siblings chasing each other around with laser pointers -- yeah, that had to stop -- and one little kid really throwing a hissy fit for some reason), and a few folks trying to sit on the floor and mooch a free read off the comics we were actually trying to sell (for God's sake, take the free comics and read those!).

So, alas, no bizarre stories...just people coming in, getting free comics, and the vast majority of them also bought something during their visit, which is a plus. Also, we included discount coupons with all the free books we gave away...which are only good from the 7th through the 31st this month, so the customers will have to come back to the store to use them. Eeeeeeee-vil.

Plus, FCBD gave us an opportunity to give away of a few of those $0.75 Alias comics that, um, haven't performed up to expectations.

Oh, no, not another Google video:

I kinda like the faux-silent film effect, complete with intertitles and fake film scratches. I also like how they had to censor some of the dirtier graffiti on a wall at one point in the film. However, I don't like it when people spell "hee hee hee" as "he he he." IT JUST ISN'T NATURAL.

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