mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, August 26, 2006

"Give the world back to the world." 

from the Superman Book & Record Set (Peter Pan Records, 1978)

Friday, August 25, 2006

No, this is the stupidest thing I've ever posted about. 

So when we received the Kingdom Come Norman McCay/Spectre action figure two-pack on Wednesday, I half-jokingly commented "Hey, I wonder if the Spectre figure is naked, ha ha." Since, as you may recall, the Spectre in the Kingdom Come mini-series was naked, save for his strategically-billowing cape. And, aside from that remark, I didn't think about it again...

...for about five minutes, when I received the first of many, many inquiries from customers wondering the exact same thing about that figure. I have no idea how to answer them. The figure's cape looks like it's molded in such a way that it's permanently shut in the front of the figure, but I'm assuming that the cape isn't a big solid piece of green plastic from about the waist down. You're gonna be able to peek under it.

I'm guessing he's either got some green trunks on, or he is indeed going ghost commando, and either way, you're just gonna have to deal with it, baby.

We've sold a couple of the sets, and it did briefly, very briefly, cross my mind to ask the customers they could pop open the box for me. Then I realized that I'd be asking a customer if could see if the action figure they just purchased was naked, no, really, I've had other customers asking me this, honest...and I decided that my customers already have a low enough opinion of me, there's no reason to pile on.

I also considered doing a search on Google, but considering the recent brouhaha AOL found itself in, I don't want a search for "naked spectre action figure" getting traced back to me. Look, I've already Googled "Aqualad slash" for you people...I've got to draw the line somewhere.

So, um, if any of you do have this figure set...er, could you, you know...drop a line or something and answer my question? My customers' questions, I mean. Yeah, my customers.

The other thing about this figure set is that if you buy it, you're gonna have an action figure of Alex Ross' dad, who modeled the character of McCay for his son. An action figure based on the artist's pop, packaged with a naked ghost. I just don't have enough caffeine in my system to deal with this some mornings.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dear angry father who just tried to give me grief at the shop: 

One, I called as soon as the book your son special-ordered came in, and we still had the book set aside for you nearly a month later. I'm not going to hold onto things indefinitely, and that's why we've since sold the book.

Two, when you tell me "every time we drove to your shop to pick up the book, you were closed, even though you were supposed to be open," that just tells me that you either can't read our clearly-posted hours or that you're a liar. Because, if it's one thing we're absolutely, positively fastidious about, it's being open during our posted hours, since that's a particular pet peeve of mine about certain other shops I've been to.

So too bad, so sad. If you can't make it to the shop for some reason, you can always call us...but don't come to my shop and lie to my face.

Love, Mike

New comics day. 

So, on that cover of Justice League of America #1, who's holding up the invitation? I'm guessing Snapper Carr. Pal Corey guessed that it's the zombie corpse of Max Lord.

Some other new releases:

Swamp Thing #29 - The last issue of the current series, which I already sorta eulogized a while back, leaves Swampy at the same point he was at in Alan Moore's last issue way back when...just a monster living in a swamp, shacked up with Abby. And, like I've said once or twice, I'd like to see Swamp Thing return to the general DC universe. Moore's work on the character casts a long shadow...in fact, this last issue features the return of Woodrue, following up on his appearance in Moore's first storyline from over twenty years ago. Throwing Swamp Thing back into the DCU may be one way to gain a little more distance from Moore, and quite frankly, I'm kind of Vertigoed-out on the character. However, we have a new Vertigo Un-Men book to get past before that can happen....

Elephantmen #2 - I noted about the last issue that I was pleasantly surprised by it, with its lush art and emotionally-affecting story. This issue isn't quite as satisfying, which isn't to say it's not good. One story features the Crocodileman, Elijah, being interviewed by a very, very (i.e. "not at all") thinly-veiled Howard Stern parody. Effective in presenting the common man's perception of the Elephantmen, but the creepy payoff when the Stern parody pushes Elijah too far makes the fairly thin story worthwhile. The other story features hippo detective Hip Flask in a nasty fight with Elijah, with the only text being captions quoting the Bible's Book of Job. Kinda high-falutin' for what's essentially two anthropomorphized animals beating the tar out of each other, and, frankly, I would have preferred some actual dialogue to quotations. But the art's nice, the fight is brutal, and seeing these beings behave like the animals they're based on is unnerving.

Batman #656 - Grant Morrison's second issue is very '60s Batman TV show-ish, with the amusing conceit of the word balloons in the pop art decorating the story's gallery setting commenting on the action in the panels in which they appear. (Example: pop art painting with a character saying "Look, up in the sky" in a panel where Batman is about to be attacked from above.) The occasional painting with a large sound effect is very evocative of the Batman TV show's giant "POW! BAM!" effects that would be inserted into the action. Almost guaranteed to annoy somebody.

Sorry, not much in a weblogging mood today...to make up for it, please enjoy this computer-generated fan-made trailer for Charles Burns' Black Hole:

Sort of looks like a Black Hole video game, doesn't it? Good Lord, what a nightmare that would be.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sometimes you gotta make the big choices. 

You're faced with many decisions in life: which college to attend, where to live, what job to take, what car to buy, what insurance coverage you need, whom to vote for, whom to marry, how to raise your children....

But never will you make a choice more important, more earth-shattering than this:



Choose wisely.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A surprising adaptation, and a brief follow-up to this morning. 

This was news to me: a DVD release of Masters of Horror: Jenifer by Dario Argento, a live-action adaptation of "a short story by Bruce Jones," it says in the Amazon listing...a story I first encountered in comic strip form illustrated by Bernie Wrightson several years ago. It originally appeared in one of the black and white Warren magazines, and it was later reprinted in color in the PC/Eclipse-published mini-series Berni Wrightson Master of the Macabre.

Well, better add that to the Netflix queue. Not sure how the beautifully grotesque comic will translate into film, but if anyone's gonna be able to do it, it'll be Argento.

So in response to this morning's post, commenter Jeff reminds us of DC's War of the Gods, another company-wide crossover series that was heavily dependent on specific timing of all the tie-in titles. Specifically, that the series had scheduling problems of its own, with issues coming out of order and spoiling things in other issues and...well, as Jeff notes, that's surely what Marvel desperately wanted to avoid.

Of course, it wasn't so much a problem with War of the Gods, since the series wasn't really all that good anyway (even with the George Perez art), and as such I don't know if that many people were really captivated by the events in that series to the extent that they are with Civil War.

And despite my misgivings with how the Civil War schedule was handled -- if you have an event series upon which the scheduling of the rest of the line is dependent, you'd better make sure it comes out on time -- it had been succeeding in the goal it shared with all other crossover series: it got readers looking at other books Marvel publishes. That's really the only object for series like this...it's not "NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN" (because any significant changes will be undone in short order), but rather that it's advertising for the company line. It got a number of customers at our store, at least, excited about each new chapter that was released, and checking out books they normally wouldn't buy just to keep up with the story.

Now whether those customers stick with the new titles they're trying out is a whole 'nother question altogther, but at least Civil War got some people excited about their comics again, and that's nice to see. As a funnybook seller, I like to see more comics in more people's hands, which Civil War was facilitating. I don't expect the delay to make much of a dent in readership, other than maybe losing some of the casual readers attracted by the real-world news coverage the series had been receiving. But, it's still frustrating how this production turned out.

Okay, that's enough Civil War talk for now...you've been seeing it everywhere else, you don't need to see me grousing about it too.

Just thinking. 

I was pondering the whole delayed Civil War thing and the importance of timing for DC and Marvel's crossover events, when I was reminded of Secret Wars II.

In the Iron Man series at the time (and I'm going from memory, so forgive the vagueness of details), there was a big lead-up to a final confrontation between Tony Stark, who had given up on being Iron Man, and some arch-nemesis or another, which was going to result in the debut of a new suit of Iron Man armor...but would it be Tony inside? The big reveal was going to be in the double-sized issue #200...but, oops, Secret Wars II #5 came out first and blew the secret.

Civil War has managed to avoid this, more or less, even though there was that bit of dialogue in an issue of Thunderbolts that blew the Spider-Man I.D. reveal from Civil War #2, but that was because Thunderbolts was sent out to retailers the week before as part of the Marvel preview pack, and not because of a shipping delay.

And the point of all this is not to slam on Civil War, but, instead...remember when it used to be a big deal when Iron Man got a new suit of armor? I sorta miss those days.

Okay, now I'm going to slam on Civil War, but just a little.

One of the defenses for the Civil War delay that I've been seeing is the importance of maintaining the consistency of the creative team. And, you know, that's fine. Shame it mucked up the shipping schedule so much, but I can understand. But the defense given here:

"On another board, Bryan Hitch correctly pointed out that nobody today really remembers the four-month wait between 'Dark Knight Returns' #2 and #3 - heck, most of the people reading this likely first read that story as a collected edition. And that's because the work is strong, and has stood the test of time. It wasn't compromised simply to meet the monthly schedule, and as a result, DC and the retailers will be able to sell it forever."

...Well, a company-wide crossover series, designed to propel an editorially-mandated direction for a shared universe, isn't really the same thing as a mini-series where the creator's particular vision is sort of the point. (And Dark Knight's lateness didn't take the rest of the company's output with it.)* Ultimately, it doesn't much matter if the creative team remains consistent throughout a crossover series...it's nice if it does, but it didn't hurt Infinite Crisis any to have a few fill-in artists, and I doubt it would have hurt Civil War any. It may have been worth saving the grief Marvel is getting from fans and retailers if they'd gone ahead and had a few pages by another artist in Civil War...and let's face it, there are plenty of fans who wouldn't even have noticed. (Though, as Tom pointed out, it's not like the fans aren't going to buy it anyway, whenever it does come out.)

And, unlike Dark Knight, if a Civil War trade paperback is even still in print a decade or so from now, it'll probably sell as well as DC's Zero Hour trade paperback does right now, and probably be about as relevant. (See also....)

* EDIT: Just noticed Michileen Martin had made a similar point in response to Alan David Doane's take on the matter.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The treasure trove that is Wonder Woman #127 (Jan. 1962) 

The lead story involves some meddling aliens or some darn thing, but really it's just an excuse to show lots of girls piled up on top of each other. There's phone booth stuffing, there's "bed-racing," which eventually results in this scene:

And then there's the famous "transparent medicine ball" stunt as seen in this panel, which will soon be featured on my new website "thisisafetishforsomebody.com" -- "woo-woo" indeed:

The second story is "Wonder Woman's Surprise Honeymoon," in which Wondy's longtime paramour Steve Trevor is knocked out and, while unconscious, dreams of married life with the Amazon.

He imagines that he'll find Wonder Woman's fame a tad frustrating:

More problems arise in Steve's rich, and not at all sexist, fantasy life:

Eventually Steve comes to, and learns the hard way that men probably should keep this sort of thing to themselves:

To wrap up, here's a final word from Wonder Woman on this issue's letters page:

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Well, of course he'd win! 

Inspired by a comment made on this site a couple months ago, The Bitter Guy puts this all-important question to a vote:

"Hoo'd Win!? Metallo with a heart of White Kryptonite,or Swamp Thing?"

I believe the voting results will surprise you. Or maybe not.

So pal Dorian and I were talking on Saturday about the online fanguish over the demise of a particular character in the latest issue of 52, and, um, all those people do realize this is most likely a big fake-out, right? That the character isn't gone for good, that (as Dor noted) there was a whole lot of effort establishing that the "time line" had gone wrong, and that the character in question was somehow responsible, and as that storyline plays out, we'll probably see that character's return and/or possible redemption?

I mean, that's where it looks like it's going to me.

"Holy windfall, Batman!"

"Tom Crippen knew he faced a daunting task after the death of his father, an inveterate pack rat who never threw anything out. It wasn't just the stockpiles of old opera programs, paper clips, Christmas cards, baseball caps, paperbacks or souvenir coffee mugs.

"Mainly, it was the awesome collection of 11,000 comics that had colonized the family garage and basement."


"The cache of vintage comics, many of them rare and in immaculate condition, were evaluated at $2.5-million (U.S.)."


"Unfortunately, this comic-book story does have a dark subplot. While he was poring over his father's comics, Tom Crippen noticed that, in such a methodical collection, vast numbers of copies were missing."


"...Some of the comics were traced to a New York dealer who said he'd bought them in the early nineties from a man who'd entered his store. The Crippen family discovered that the seller's name was that of a contractor who'd been doing extensive renovations at the Crippen home at that time."

(via Fark)

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