mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A fond farewell to Martin Nodell, Golden Age comics artist and creator of the
original Green Lantern, who passed away Saturday morning. Mark Evanier tells you more about the man.

image from Green Lantern #19 (Dec. 1991) - art by Nodell and Romeo Tanghal

Red Tornado, Master Impressionist. 

From Fury of Firestorm #4 (Sept. '82), Red Tornado disguises himself as Burt Reynolds (under the hopefully non-actionable pseudonym of "Curt Holland") as part of a ruse to defeat Killer Frost:

No, really, it is Red Tornado:

And after the super-shenanigans are done with, Reddy has time to make with his Steve Martin impression:

...in front of former New York mayor Ed Koch, no less.

In other news:

Is there a more magical phrase in the English language than "a special tribute to Mike Sterling?" I submit to you, sir and/or ma'am, that there is not, and that very phrase appears in Chris Sims' latest Invincible Super-Blog podcast. He discusses the infamous Swamp Thing supplement from the DC Heroes role playing game in honor of my recent anniversary (and comes to just about the same conclusion I did when I discussed the game way back when). Thanks, Chris, you velvet-piped troubadour, you.

Enough about me, here's more about me: I now have a Comicspace account, because I need to be on another internet networking/blogging/whatever site, apparently. Well, honestly, I think I may find more use for this than I ever did for my Myspace account, which, um, I'm still not sure what to do with yet. And don't get me started on my poor, neglected Vox site. Oy.

Friday, December 08, 2006

"His codpiece contains equipment...." 

So I was poking through the latest edition of the Comics Buyer's Guide Comic Book Checklist & Price Guide, and I noticed an amusing feature: every other page has a strip of photos of five comic covers, each with a very brief description beneath.

Some have trivia (for Street Poet Ray: "Marvel's worst-selling comic book ever"), some have funny yet accurate descriptions (Sub-Mariner: "Angry Atlantean has control issues," and Fatale: "Over-endowed heroine absorbs energy"), criticism (Ghost Rider 2099: "Depressing character in depressing future" and Hee Haw: "Doom, Despair, Agony, Oh Me..."), attempted gags (Wheel of Worlds: "Reversed title sounds like car show"), brief history lessons (Harbinger: "Valiant series got very hot, then very cold"), and possibly my favorite one of the bunch, for the Howard the Duck movie adaptation: "Movie ruined all that was good in the world." Oh, now, it wasn't as bad as all that, was it?

Okay, one more: Super-Villain Team-Up: "Doom, Red Skull kept trying to make friends."

Alas, some titles I wanted to see described in this fashion were skipped over by the guide's writers, forcing me to make up my own for All-Star Batman ("Genius comic, unappreciated in its own time"), Skateman ("AHHH! MY EYES!"), Purgatori ("Masturbation tool for lesbian devil fetishists"), Hawk & The Dove 2nd series ("Believe it or not, Liefeld's art was okay, once"), J'emm Son of Saturn ("Definitely not the Martian Manhunter"), Double Impact ("This comic starred two pairs of breasts")...you know, like that.

And I know you jokers have some of your own, so go ahead, throw 'em in the comments section.

In other news:

Via Portal of Evil, the Great Batman Equipment Archive:

"This is an attempt to catalog everything Batman has ever pulled from his suit or belt. His utility belt is a wide, goldish yellow belt with a dozen pockets separated by hollow cylindrical studs, which also contain equipment. Most of his equipment is hidden here. His codpiece contains equipment, as well as his boots, cape, cowl, and gauntlets. It is held firmly that only the dark blue on his costume contains things, never the gray. Sources are Games (Role-Playing and Computer), Movies, Books, Websites (Official only), Television (the 60's series and modern cartoons), Comics, Scripts, and Newspapers. I only follow the Bruce Wayne Batman, or those that sat in for him. Near the end are gadgets that should have been Batman's, and last a comprehensive description of his ensemble, what it does, and where he keeps it."

"...Only the dark blue on his costume contains things, never the gray." Uh, okay.

YES! Weekly has a 10 Best Comic Book Movies list, where they misspell Spider-Man and accidentally include The Crow. Including Alien Vs. Predator on the list was a nice touch, though, acknowledging the comic book origins of that particular teaming. Calling it one of the "best" is kinda pushing it...it was fun, but really, really stupid, which is okay for what it was.

"Reprints not so shocking as in the '50s" - review of the EC Comics archive editions, praising the art while knocking the writing:

"For every genuinely nail-biting tale there's one that seems like a third-rate 'Twilight Zone' episode. A bear hunter IS TURNED INTO A RUG! A furrier from the future visits a planet WHERE THE ANIMALS WEAR PELTS MADE OUT OF PEOPLE! An effeminate man marries solely for business reasons because HE'S A ROBOT! (Actually, that last one's kinda good.)"

I don't know...the hokiness of some the stories is part of the charm, I always thought. Plus, the comics poke fun at themselves, usually via one of the "horror hosts." It was like, "yeah, we know this story was kinda goofy, but wasn't it sorta fun anyway?" It let readers in on the, well, "gag" I guess, inviting them to take the stories about as seriously as they deserved...an aspect of EC Comics that their many imitators of the time didn't understand.

And, once seen, it cannot be unseen, from Landofthelost.com:


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Not closed, questions, and an oddity. 

What I don't need to hear two minutes after we open our doors for New Comics Day:

"Huh, these shelves sure are bare. They must be going out of business!"

This said, loudly, to other customers. This said while we were breaking down the new comic order, with piles of new comics all over the place (since the shipment arrived late), and while I'm getting comics counted and thrown onto the racks. This said at least twice.

In fairness, once I explained to the customer what was going on, all was suddenly clear, but still, c'mon, I didn't need to hear that.

Chris "Lefty" Brown had some questions for the webloggers a couple days back, which I hadn't gotten around to yet because of my "yay me" post and my lazy Wednesday morning post. But, hey, better late than never:

"Sure we've all heard the horror stories of comic book retailing, but what would be your 'aww shucks' story to warm our hearts and weep manly tears?"

Since I first read this question, I put my thinker to the test and tried to dig up some event that could qualify as "heartwarming," and I think perhaps the one that qualifies the most involves pal Sean, from his days of employment at the shop. It was during one of our infamous Midnight Madness sales, see, when Sean met a particular customer of ours, a young woman named Yvonne (another friend of mine), and thus began a relationship that resulted in their eventual marriage.

So, in an odd sort of way, by hiring Sean, by being friends with Yvonne, I'm responsible for their marital union. There's your heartwarming story, buster.

"Has there been a big event book or series that didn't disappoint and did change the status quo of the characters?"

I've touched upon this before, primarily on the lasting impact of crossover events, and I still think the only one with anything close to permanent impact is DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths. Twenty years on, we're still dealing with events from that series.

As for not disappointing...well, I've enjoyed many a crossover with "big changes" that were undone right away, so the permanence of said changes isn't really a factor. (Someday I'll get around to writing my defense of the original Secret Wars series.) But, again, I'll say Crisis on Infinite Earths...not perfect, by any means, but beautifully drawn by George Perez, with pretty much every DC character you can think of, in what should probably have been the final word in way overblown event comics of its type.

"Incredible Hulk versus Swamp Thing, besides the readers, who'd win?

If it's in the Incredible Hulk's book, the Hulk would win.

If it's in Swamp Thing's book, Swamp Thing would win.

If it's in a one-shot crossover book co-published by Marvel and DC, they'll fight to a draw, then team-up to fight a greater evil (say, the dreaded Leader and Arcane team, combining science and sorcery to...take over the world!).

"What's your single issue favorite back issue in your collection?"

I've probably answered this before, and I'm sure every time I answer this question, I give a different answer. My usual answer is, not a Swamp Thing comic, believe it or not, but Justice League of America #200, featuring a boatload of classic DC artists and new JLAers fighting the original JLA team. It's a lot of fun, and a must for fans of superhero art. (Detective Comics #500 is a close second.)

An oddity from that Secret Crisis post...in the comments section, posted on April 24th, was this comment predicting events in then-future issues of Civil War a week or so before the first issue of the series was even released. The heck? I vaguely recall ignoring the comment as crazy talk at the time, but, dang if he (or she) doesn't pin the Spider-Man thing, and the Clone Thor thing...and I don't know if the rest of it has happened yet or not, but still, what's up with that?

I was only reminded of it because someone left a recent comment in that thread that reads:

"Either 'The Painted Doll' [the commenter's handle] works at Marvel and chose this fairly unknown blog to reaveal Big Secrets or he is a prophet!"

"Fairly unknown blog." Hmph. Anyway, it is pretty weird.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"The coffee and cigarettes are for the cartoonist." 

The Tom and Jerry cartoons directed by Gene Deitch were always among my favorites...just a little off-model from the other Tom 'n' Jerry cartoons, scored a little differently, and slightly creepy. Even as a child, before I was generally aware of such things, I could tell that these cartoons were different from those cartoons. And this one, "The Tom & Jerry Cartoon Kit," is just plain weird:

Another good sample of Deitch's work is "Sorry Safari," which features some beautifully-designed backgrounds, not to mention a great design for an elephant.

But my all-time favorite Tom and Jerry is this non-Deitch one:

I know it's bit of a cliché to say this, but I have a hard time imagining "Heavenly Puss" being made today. The morbidity of the cartoon is surprising; the sackful of drowned kittens we meet in the afterlife is still quite affecting.

If you want to read more about Tom and Jerry, and of course you do, may I suggest this unofficial fan site? And remember, "the white mouse will not explode."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Suddenly, three years later...." 

Oh dear heavens, I've been doing this on a daily basis for three years now?

Okay, after doing two previous anniversary posts, and running off at the mouth each of those times, I don't know if I have that much new to add...well, I'll probably run off at the mouth again anyway, since I can't seem to help myself. So, if I repeat myself, I apologize.

There had been times, over the last year, when my enthusiasm for comics weblogging wavered a tad, as I noted once or twice, but you folks, your comments and your e-mails and your generally positive reaction to my ongoing nonsense provide continuing inspiration. As I've said before, I never expected to have an audience beyond a few friends, so the fact that I have the audience that I have now quite simply amazes me. Despite my occasional low moments, I do still enjoy doing this site, and I still enjoy interacting with you folks. I don't plan on going away any time soon, barring health issues, accidents, meteor strikes, the Man keeping me down, or what have you.

So, let me thank all of you for your continued readership, which is, as always, much appreciated. Thanks to my fellow funnybook webloggers, for making the online comics world an interesting one. Thanks to my store's employees, current and former, and the occasional customer, for not minding too much when I talk about them on the site. (Typical conversation at the store: "Oh, that thing I did is gonna go on your website, isn't it?" "Ayuh.")

And, of course, my thanks to the other members of the Associated Comics And Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA And Outlying Environs: pals Ian, Tom, J.P., Kid Chris, Corey, Sean, and Nathan (some of whom don't post nearly enough, Sean)...but most of all, big thanks to best pal Dorian, without whom I don't know that I'd enjoy doing the weblogging thing as much as I do. So thanks, Dor, you big lug.

Let's shift the self-indulgence lever all the way up to "FULL BLAST," if I may, as I present some posts of note from the last twelve months that you may have missed, may want to revisit, or that I'm misguidedly proud of:

"That was Chuck Norris," my Adam West/Frank Miller mash-up, DC screwing up its reprint of Alan Moore's Superman story, my evil, evil animated Joker gif, the gaslighting of Jean Loring, possibly my all-time favorite panel from a romance comic, Swamp Thing speaks on behalf of Greenpeace, "Tubby, NO," comic book titles I don't want to see, some thoughts on weblogging, Superman Vs. Goku, the stupidest thing I've ever posted...no, wait, this is the stupidest thing I've ever posted, "Everyone has C.B. now," the Best Horror Comic Host ever, my birthday post, Amazon.com reviews of Alan Moore's work, some of my favorite covers (parts one and two), Man-Thing's war on Swamp Thing, a special message from the Han Solo Frozen in Carbonite Statue prop replica, the best Batman YouTube video ever, the Comics Code approves the "s" word, the editing of the Outsiders, I look at naked Adrienne Barbeau...for science, Free Comic Book Day before and after, the Secret Crisis of Infinite Wars, Captain Dude, abandoned plot points, shelf-talkers (1 2 3), the Smurf life cycle, my X-Men 3 review, my memorial tree, get a look at my rack, too many comics, my Superman Returns review, casting the 1980s X-Men movie, DESTROY ALL ROBOTS, my signed Morn photo, superheroes and supermodels, dropping books, Low Content Mode week (starting here), Tom's Casebook (1 2), BEHOLD THE BENOSED FACE OF DOOM, Mike's many copies of House of Secrets #92, the continuing evil of Cicero Pig, that one guy from Swamp Thing #1, Dueling Myspace Wolverines, BOW BEFORE YOUR ALIEN MASTERS, controversy, the worst comic story I've ever read, the Evil Eye Evader (with a comment from someone who actually had one!), the runaway arrow, farm folk versus aliens, Invest-A-Rama, a terrible, terrible article about comics, I liked these panels even if nobody else did, some great Captain America sound effects, Richie Rich is a jerk, Let's Go Bowling, and all roads lead to superheroes. And, every once in a while, I manage to put some words together in the right order and turn out a piece of writing that makes me think, hey, apparently I can write coherent English when I put my mind to it: in particular, my Bat-essay from the end of Bat-week.

As I was putting together those links, I went ahead and scoured the entire archives to finally assemble an index of my character linkdumps. Eventually they'll get into the sidebar, but, what the heck, here they are for your amusement and/or edification. Note: some linkrot may have set in on some of the noted sites:



Batman ('60s TV show version)

Blue Beetle






Kitty Pryde

Lex Luthor


Matter-Eater Lad

Mirror Master


Night Thrasher


Silver Surfer

Swamp Thing






I'm still stunned that I was able to put together so many links for that Matter-Eater Lad post. I mean, who knew?

For putting up with all that, I give you a picture of me wearing 3D scratch 'n' sniff gorilla glasses:

Yes, that's right, I said 3D SCRATCH 'N' SNIFF GORILLA GLASSES:


Thank you for reading, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Silver Surfer, summed up in four panels... 

...from Spidey Super Stories #45 (March 1980):

Special bonus panel:

One of the other stories in this comic revolves around a charity footrace disrupted by the Green Goblin, and I find myself strangely fascinated by this runner:

The "Queen of the Runners," complete with crown...what's her backstory? Is she just a champion runner that's a tad full of herself, or is she an actual monarch of a country solely populated by marathon runners?

Alas, we'll never know, as her only purpose in the story is to allow the Goblin to make a bad pun:

I suppose it's possible that this was a character from the Electric Company TV show (which the Spidey Super Stories ties into, in case you didn't know), but Google-fu reveals nothing.


"Dear Marvel: I believe that there is a character in your library that has been long neglected, and in desperate need of a revival...."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I don't know why I put the Hulk scan on this post, either. 

DC Comics has announced their forthcoming imprint "Minx," aimed at female readers that, as the linked article says, "may not be attracted to superheroes or manga." And, as a person what sells the funnybooks, I think that's a good thing, but whether this will actually attract a new audience or simply cannibalize sales from other comics remains to be seen.

Just in case you're curious, here are the comics that, from my observations, have the larger female readerships at our shop:

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac


X-Men and related


Love & Rockets and related

assorted manga titles (no particular title stands out)

And then there are titles that used to have a large female reader base...or a large reader base period...like Sandman (sales on the trades have dipped as of late) and Strangers in Paradise (started shedding readers about two years ago...and no, it wasn't because of anything I did). Interestingly, those are the titles that are the usual clichéd responses to "what comics are good for women?"

And I realize nobody is going to want to hear this, but the original Chaos Comics version of Lady Death had a strong female fan base at our shop as well...and then she moved to Crossgen and started wearing clothes, which must have ticked off the character's fans something fierce since, now that she's at Avatar and in her usual bikini outfit, nobody reads her comics.

Just to throw it out there again...my girlfriend's favorite comics are Spider-Man and the original Marvel G.I. Joe. That'll throw off the marketing departments.

Dear Dark Horse,

Your window of opportunity to sell your Who Wants to Be A Superhero tie-in comic is rapidly closing. I was getting a lot of requests for it two months ago...not so much now.

But don't feel too bad...I am loading up on your 300 hardcovers, since there's no way on God's green earth you're going to have them available to comic book stores when the movie finally comes out (see also Hellboy, Sin City).



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