mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, September 02, 2006

from the back cover of The Comic Reader #178 (March 1980) - art by Mike Tiefenbacher

Friday, September 01, 2006

Here and there and everywhere. 

Regarding my comments yesterday: I'm not really angry over the Tokyopop thing, just more, well, miffed, I guess. We just had a sudden surge of interest in Dragon Head, for example, which is one of the titles moving to online-only sales with future volumes.

Just one more thing to add to the list of reasons why it's so great to sell funnybooks for a living.

Also, I was asked by some customers who I thought was going to take over Astonishing X-Men after Joss Whedon completes his run. Well, first, the end of his run is about, what, seven or eight issues away, so Marvel still has a couple years to think about it. Two, since the Astonishing X-Men title was seemingly specifically created for Whedon in order to contain the inherent lateness issues (since it's doubtful that Marvel would want a Whedon run delaying the schedule of, say, the long-established Uncanny), I kinda, sorta hoped that Marvel was planning on ending the series with his departure.

But then I realized what I was suggesting, that Marvel willingly drop a best-selling X-title, even after the primary reason for that book's sales departs, and am thus resigned to having another ongoing monthly X-Men team title.

But if I had to pick a new creative team for the title...Frank Miller and Brian Bolland. I can't foresee any problems with that.

In other news:

I can't believe pal Dorian has been keeping up this side project for four months now. The jerk.

Here, have some nightmarish Jim Woodring toys (contains Flash animation, sound, creepiness). (via)

It's the sixth anniversary of Comic Book Galaxy...what doesn't kill it makes it stronger. Six years is like 70 in blog years, so good on them for lasting this long.

God has answered my prayers: Marvel Comics has an official message board. From the "First Movie o.k. , Next Movie probably better" Fantastic Four thread:

"I just dont thin k the average movie public would buy into but who says we have to make movies for the right"

"Yea, screw the public! It is time for us geeks to rise up and claim Hollywood for ourselves!"

"thats what ive been sying its time we geeks got some stuff don besides be kept down by the man and reading the best form of entertaiment to exist

"I love you comic books"

And I love you, Marvel Comics message board.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A brief look at new comics, and the End of Civilization. (Warning: Mike is a tad cranky.) 

New comics day:

Battlestar Galactica #1 - Well, nobody wanted the #0 for a quarter, so I'm not holding out hope for this new issue, priced at $2.99, to do any better.

Mythos: Hulk - Yet another retelling of the Hulk origin, only with murkier artwork? Oh, good.

Snakes on A Plane #1 - Had a couple folks tell me "I can't believe I'm buying a comic by Chuck Dixon," but such is the power of Snakes on A Plane! Well, theoretical power, anyway, given its underperformance. Hey, it's gonna kill on DVD, you just watch.

Little Lulu Color Special trade paperback - Reprints material yet to appear in the regular black and white reprint books...and it looks like some care was taken in the choice of material, as at least a few gags and/or plot points depend on being able to see the colors of things in the stories. As always, recommended.

Action Comics #842 - Cute Simpsons gag on the cover.

X-Isle #2 - Sorta review-proof: either you want to read a comic about a group of folks stuck on an island filled with monstrous creatures and man-eating plants, or you don't. Fast-paced, yet creepy, with moody art (though it still has that slight "stretched to fit the page" look I've mentioned before).

CSI: Dying In The Gutters #1 - The CSI comics license gasps out its last breath as it abandons the CSI TV show fans who weren't buying the comic any longer anyway, and focuses its attention entirely on insular comics fandom references. To be fair, it's not completely terrible (and the strategy worked, since it got me to look at it and I've never seen an episode of CSI), but the comic might as well have been called CSI: One Last Grab at Direct Market Sales. Still, kinda worth it if you want to see a bunch of comics pros being presented as if they're performing in a Murder Mystery Train Dinner Theatre.

Oh, and re: the Tokyopop situation: yeah, I really want to be used as a feeder store for Tokyopop's online shop. Here, let me try to build an audience for your titles so that you can take them away from us and sell them yourself. That really makes me want to support your future releases. (This reminds me, in a way, of the Games Workshop strategy, where we sold GW product successfully for many years, building up a large local market for their material, and then, gee, GW opens up one of their retail stores about a mile away from us. Coincidence, I'm sure.) I know it's their right to sell their books however they'd like, but it sure seemed to me over the years that Tokyopop saw having to offer books to comics shops as an inconvenience, or at least as an afterthought. I'm surprised they're still bothering.

And now, Progressive Ruin presents...the End of Civilization. Crack open your copy of Diamond Previews dated Sept. 2006, and follow along. (Previous installments: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18)

p. 192-3 - Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze Bust:

Commemorate the forthcoming repeatedly-delayed box office car wreck with a statue that vaguely approximates the appearance of the starring actor. Only $79.99.

p. 431 - Moses Plush:

This has to be some kind of sin. I mean, doesn't a plushie version of Moses violate at least a commandment or two?

p. 438 - Archie Modern Reggie Bust:

Have any of these Archie statues even slightly resembled the comic book characters they're based on?

p. 448 - Hot Golfer Statue:

Yet another addition to my proposed "thisisafetishforsomebody.com" website.

p. 448 - Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Book of Darkest Magick Prop Replica:

"Carefully matched to the pivotal prop's every detail, each book features a genuine leather binding complete with closing clasp. In addition, with over 500 blank pages at your disposal you can create your own spell book or start a demon database (or a diary or sketchbook)!"

Here's a hardcover sketchbook...true, it's only 192 pages, and it doesn't look like something you once saw on a TV show, but it's only $5.99 ($5.39 for Barnes & Noble members) versus the nearly ninety bones you'd be dishing out for the prop replica.

p. 450-1 - Rocky "The Italian Stallion" Robe Replica:

Sylvester Stallone's porn film seems like an odd thing to commemorate in a prop replica, but, hey, more power to you.

p. 495 - Peanuts "Psychiatric Booth" Salt & Pepper Shakers:

Okay, I'm not posting this to make fun of it; I'm posting it because it rules.

Okay, sorry for the crankiness above; here, have some cute.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A quick new comics day thought. 

There's some measure of irony in the fact that some of the stories in the new Showcase Presents Batman are credited to Bob Kane (instead of the folks who actually did the stories), while the book also contains a notice that the credits are as complete and accurate as they can manage, and if anyone has more accurate information to please contact the publisher.

Yes, I know there's some kind of contractual/legal reason for this. Still, it's kind of funny, in a sad way.

Also, Journalista is now live at the revamped Comics Journal website. Go visit, tell 'em Mike sent you.

Once again...the evil works of Cicero Pig. 

Porky Pig #28 (May/June 1953)

I've written about the many and varied crimes (under March 10th) of Porky Pig's nephew Cicero before, but I came across this cover over the weekend and...well, there seems to be a fatal flaw in Cicero's plan.

It appears that Cicero is attempted to embarrass his uncle by having his swim trunks unravel when he dives, thus causing Porky to be exposed in front of his longtime girlfriend Petunia Pig...except we're talking about a pig who's normally pantsless.

Now there are several possible explanations behind this cover:

1. The object of Cicero's prank is not embarrassing his uncle, but simply the destruction of his uncle's property.

2. Porky, Cicero, and other pigs in the Warner Brothers-verse are not nude from the waist down, but are in fact wearing skin-tight pigflesh-colored leotards which of course they would doff while at the pool. Thus the cover gag is as it appears...Cicero embarrassing Porky with forced public exposure.

3. There is some elaborate set of cultural taboos and social mores for the Warner Brothers-verse cartoon animals (or perhaps just specifically for the pigs) which we are not privy to, involving in what situations that below-the-waist nudity is and is not permitted.

Regardless of the reason...that Cicero is still an evil little monster. Don't turn your back on him, Porky...DON'T TURN YOUR BACK!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We now pause for a brief commercial announcement. 

Old store pal Jaime Hernandez needed to clear out some closet space, and I needed some stuff to put on the eBay, and these two needs collided and formed our store's current auction listings. Featured are several hardcover and softcover Love & Rockets collections, all from Jaime's personal stash, and hand-signed specificially for this auction (with the exception of the volume 13 hardcover, which already had a signature plate).

So bid early, bid often, and bid high...give Jaime (and, to a lesser extent, us) some scratch. (Only the Love & Rockets collections are Jaime's...everything else currently up for auction is ours, but feel free to bid on those items too.)

All winning bidders will have their books personally and carefully packed by yours truly, and shipped via the tender mercies of the U.S. Post Office.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program. Thank you for your patience.

Blogging about blogging is a sin. 

So for some reason, I had the highest traffic ever on this site yesterday without having an artificial bump caused by being Boing Boinged or Waxied or some such thing. Just, for whatever reason, a whole bunch of you decided to all converge on my site at once, out of your secret interest in Swamp Thing or Googling for images of Smallville stars in the altogether (none on this site, though that doesn't keep folks from trying), or whatever. But if you're new here, and you're actually reading what I'm writing and not desperately scanning the page for nekkid pics...hi! How are you? I promise I do more than just write about writing for a weblog, honest.

And speaking of weblogs, I think most of us now know that Dirk Deppey is reviving the Journalista weblog, which is currently living at Mr. Deppey's own domain, working out some of the kinks and waiting for the eventual Comics Journal site relaunch. This revival is very good news, as Journalista was one of the most informative and most influential weblogs in the comicsweblogosphere, and its loss was greatly felt.

On a more personal level, Mr. Deppey occasionally linked to my site in its early days during the first iteration of Journalista, and I've often credited those links for giving my site an early boost in readership. And (as I'm sure some of you are sick of hearing), the link to my site in his last official entry brought me significant traffic for nearly a year afterward...and also provided a "pull quote" for my rotating link thingie to the right, there. The quote may be a little out of date ("this year" referring to 2004), but it's only getting removed over my dead body, so deal with it.

What I'm trying to say is...yay! Journalista's back! Between this and Tom Spurgeon's always-excellent Comics Reporter, I think that'll be all the comic news 'n' linkage anyone can handle.

Yesterday was Jack Kirby's birthday, which I apparently celebrated by posting something about Swamp Thing. Well, Mark Evanier has something to say about it, as should be expected, and pal Ian posts a couple choice Kirby covers. Booksteve has covers for volumes 1 and 2 of The Jack Kirby Treasury...and, if you're a Kirby fan, you should be looking at the Jack Kirby Comics Weblog every day.

I got to meet Jack Kirby once, at a convention in the early '90s. I shook his hand, told him "thanks for the great comics," and got to briefly chat with both him and his wife Roz for a minute or two.

He lived only about a 30 or 40 minute drive from where I did. His number was listed in our local phone book, and once in a while I'd think "Hey, I wonder what would happen if I called him...." Of course, I never did. That's okay, because I doubt I would have been able to come up with anything to say beyond "thanks for the great comics," which I got to do face-to-face with him anyway.

Here's one of my favorite Kirby images, which I posted a couple years back. Some of the stuff the man came up with was downright peculiar, but God bless him for it.

8-30-06: Journalista is now live at the revamped Comics Journal site. Go, enjoy.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ferrett, Bruno, and...um, that other guy. 

Don't worry, I'm not hitting you folks with yet another week of nothing but Swamp Thing posts. However, I received an e-mail from one of the readers of this weblog, who asked a question about something that I hadn't thought about until now. The writer asked about the fate of one of the characters from the very first issue of Swamp Thing from 1972, who is introduced in this panel:

Pictured there are Ferrett (the fella in the green suit), Bruno (who is named later in the scene) on the left with the short-cut hair, and the unnamed long-haired thug on the right. It's that long-haired chap that we're concerned with here.

Here's a better look at him:

Now I'd just figured it wasn't important who that guy was...he's just some muscle accompanying Ferrett on their errand for the mysterious "Mister E." (not to be confused with this Mister E), who is after the Hollands' secret biorestorative formula.

However, as my reader noted in his e-mail, that unnamed thug is the guy who actually plants the bomb in the Hollands' laboratory, as seen here:

Most of you longtime Swampy fans are probably extremely familiar with the bomb in question, having seen variations on this next panel in many flashbacks over the character's thirty-plus-year run:

And, as we all know, the bomb goes off, the flaming body of Alec Holland plunges into the swamp, and Swamp Thinginess promptly ensues.

The conclusion of the first issue involves Swamp Thing's revenge on the thugs what turned him into a monster...however, only two thugs get their just deserts. Swampy grabs Bruno (whose hair apparently goes grey from fear in that second panel...or it's a coloring error, one of the two):

And then Swamp Thing gets his mossy mitts on Ferrett:

But that long-haired guy? Nowhere to be seen. The guy who actually planted the bomb that set off this whole chain of events got off scot-free. Even as we encounter the secret boss-man "Mister E." in subsequent issues, he has other assistants and thugs involved in his nefarious goings-on.

I don't know...maybe that guy got a job as one of the Riddler's henchmen, or became a Leif Garrett impersonator, or something. But now I've gone from not thinking about this at all to "Hmmmm...I wonder if that plot point will ever get addressed...."

And there's your hyper-obsessive Swamp Thing post for the week. Enjoy, won't you?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"He currently has an identity crisis with that other Nightwing that confuses the hell out of me as to who it is." 

Okay, folks had been piling on Wizard Magazine recently, and I don't mean to add to the sturm und drang now that it's been mostly sturmed 'n' drung, but I was flipping through the latest issue on Saturday and noticed a couple things:

1. From the Frank Cho/Brian Bendis interview regarding the forthcoming Mighty Avengers series:

"With Ms. Marvel and the [other Avengers] so ingrained in the Avengers mythos, will we see the differing views that fueled Civil War completely disappear, or will an animosity still linger?"

"CHO: Look at it this way; I have family members I don't talk religion or politics with. I love them, but there are certain topics that we are completely opposite on. they believe what they think is right, and I believe what I think is right, but we still get along."

So, that's a post-Civil War spoiler, in that the end result of this conflict will be Avengers members being slightly more grumpy at each other in the team lounge.

2. I've mentioned that Wizard has sort of undermined its own raison d'etre by emasculating its price guide, containing only partial issue listings for the titles present in that guide. For example, the listing for Marvel's Conan the Barbarian has prices for 1, 2, 3, 14, 15, 23, 24, and 275. Issue #50? Who knows? The primary value of Wizard is now as a supplement to the Overstreet guide, indicating current trends that the yearly Overstreet can't keep up with.

Most of the titles listed are ones of current interest or otherwise "hot," but there was a couple that stood out. Gatecrasher and Just A Pilgrim are both included, with full listings of every issue, even though I'm fairly certain there's little or no interest in these two series anywhere (even with Garth Ennis as writer on the latter). So why are they listed?

They're published by Black Bull, which is (or was, I guess) Wizard's comic book publishing branch.


To its credit, Wizard didn't list the prices as $150 apiece with "RARE! HOT!" notations on them, which is exactly what I would have done in its position, because I'm a jerk.

(DISCLAIMER: I haven't been able to keep up with a number of the recent comicsweblogosphere brouhahas in relation to Wizard, that Frank Cho interview, and so on, other than being aware that they exist, so I have no idea if I'm repeating points other folks have made. I'm a bad weblogger.)

Oh, this could be very offensive...I apologize in advance:

"I'd rather Dick did it with a dude than Babs Gordon"

"Hopefully, they NEVER EVER EVER get back together. I can't stand her, and they make a horrible couple anyway.

"Their whole relationship consists of quippy back and fourth remarks about nonsense. Wow, what a deep connection. They seem more like brother and sister than anything. So the romantic crap between them always seems like forced writing. I'd rather Dick bang a guy (as long as it's just about sex) than some chick who's like a sister to him.

"Did I mention I hate Barbara?
One time she called him 'twentysomething wonder' and I found myself wishing the Joker had been a little more lethal with that bullet.

"Animated Series Barbara is okay. Better than the comics version anyway.
But then, animated Dick Grayson isn't as cool as comics Dick Grayson. See, it's just not meant to be."

Apparently this poster has a...history:

"You keep mentioning various BatFamily characters and gay sex. Are you gay?"

"So you're okay with man-on-man sex, but a deep emotional bond between two men creeps you out? Whatever, I'm not criticizing but I usually see it in reverse on these boards. Or is it sex with a handicapable person that bothers you?"

The original poster responds:

"No, a deep emotional bond between two men is great.

"But I don't see Nightwing as a homosexual. So I think he could have sex with other guys for fun, be close to them as a friend even, but he'd always go back to women.

As for Barbara, being in a chair has nothing to do with it. Has she ever used the word 'handicapable' before, or did you get that from somewhere else?
Because if she has said that, well, it's another reason to hate her.
They should do a story where it's revealed she's been faking her handicap for years. The reason can be mental illness."

And it just goes downhill after that:

"Dick could never be gay. Too many gay jokes. I mean he'd be a male underwear model who wears spandex by night and used to be a short-shorts wearing boy who lived in a cave with a grown man. Oh, yeah, also his name is DICK!"

"They should put Dick in a wheelchair too. Then they can have handicapped sex. :D"

"What the f*ck is your issue? You must just hate handicapped people."

Again, from the original poster, and I'm hoping he was trying to be funny:

"Yes, it's just Barbara I hate. I found the handicapped girl on Degrassi Junior High rather delightful. Her name escapes me, but she probably likes being referred to as 'that girl in the wheelchair' anyway."

Back to the other commenters:

"I'd rather Dick did it with a dude too, work out all those long represed bat-fantasies. Babs deserves better anyway. :)"

"It's obvious that you have REALLY STRONG FEELINGS about guys having sex with other guys for fun but always going back to women - are you doing this with guys?"

"I find that it's really horrible to talk so crudely about one of DC's first heroines. She was the only heroine back then in Detective Comics save SuperGirl and WonderWoman. I honestly think that relationships create a lot of unnecessary animosity. Just because one doesn't like the couple doesn't mean one bashes the other person their favorite character is with. I admit I really, really don't want Black Panther with Storm, but I don't make demeaning jokes about him.
As for Dick's romantic love/sex/dating life, I really think that he should just back off of any relationship, may it be with a woman or man. His life is too f**ked up already, considering the list of problems he has:"

And then there's a list of 17 points...well, 16, actually, since #17 is "The list goes on and on..." Other points include the following:

"3. People might sue him and take his remaining money because of the casualties of the Circus going down."

"5. Jason Todd is back. That speaks for itself."

"7. His Outsiders team kind of to almost completely sucks."

"11. Batman's still being a big b***h about him having to be under his shadow or some bull like that."

"12. He currently has an identity crisis with that other Nightwing that confuses the hell out of me as to who it is."

To wrap up:

"find Kory a WAY more interesting character and her relationship with Dick far more fascinating because of how different they are. Dick and Kory are like thinking outside the box. Dick and Babs are that couple trapped in a boring little box. Whoever he ends up with, I just would definitely not want it to be Babs !"

You know, my posts were a lot shorter early on. I'm sure most of you miss those days.

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