mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 06, 2007

from Millie the Model #206 (Nov. 1973) - art by Stan Goldberg

Friday, January 05, 2007

My workday started out... 

...with me singing "Hello, MODOK" to the tune of "Hello, Dolly."

I need a vacation.

My Civil War day: 

1. Distributed the few copies we had of Civil War #6 to customers with comic saver boxes at the shop that I expected to pick up their stuff within the next day or so.

2. Posted a sign by the new Civil War: Frontline #10 stating that shipments of CW #6 had been severely shorted to all retailers on the west coast, and that we no longer had any copies for sale.

3. Proceeded to answer questions about why Civil War was shorted, prompting a reworking of my sign for Friday.

4. Answered lots of phone calls from people asking if we received the new issue of Civil War.

5. Also took yet another call from the kid who keeps asking us what Alex Ross Justice action figures we have in stock, which has nothing to do with Civil War, but I swear he calls about every four days and asks for the same thing every time.

I did flip through the new issue of Civil War, and, if I can say something about it without being too much of a spoiler-pants: the Punisher's characterization in this series, particularly in the new issue, reminds me a bit of how Bill Mantlo used to write him in the early '80s. You know, that stuff they had to explain away later in the Steven Grant/Mike Zeck mini as being caused (if I'm remembering correctly) by drugs slipped to the Punisher by his enemies. I'm too used to reading Garth Ennis' darkly calculating, brutal, "unstoppable engine of destruction" Punisher, I guess, since the Dumbass Punisher most everyone else writes always catches me by surprise. Not saying "crazy, unthinking Punisher" isn't a valid interpretation of the character, mind you.

For more Civil War talk, particularly about what's been done to a certain character in this event, pal Dorian has SPOILERS AHOY for you interested parties.

A couple other new comics day things:

Now that the DC Comics we left-coasters were supposed to get last week finally arrived, I was able to check out Justice League of America #5 for myself and see what I assumed was going to be a Swamp Thing reference and/or appearance, judging by this comment Michael left. It turned out to be just a dialogue reference, but hey, that's good enough for me.

The new Comics Journal (#280) not only has a lengthy Frank Thorne interview and an interview with Finder's Carla Speed McNeil, but forty full-color pages of reprints from the legendary Crime Does Not Pay. That's gotta be worth spending your hard-earned dough on.

Because of the DC delays, we ended up getting four Superman books this week: Superman itself (#658), a darn fine read in writer Kurt Busiek's hands; Superman/Batman #31, an unusually coherent installment of this series, featuring the return of the last character you'd expect; Superman Confidential #3, which I skipped reading since the initial installment didn't grab me; and the wondrous All Star Superman #6, about as flawless of a comic book as can be managed...and Krypto the Superdog is in it, too, for that extra touch of quality.

Customer Gary let me know that he's interviewed writer Brian K. Vaughn twice on his radio show, once in March and again in November, so follow those links and listen to the podcasts, why don't you?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Injury, now with extra insult. 

So not only was our order of Civil War #6 allocated (like everyone else on the west coast), but we discovered, when the order arrived, that our allocation was shorted by Diamond by a few copies. Nor did we receive the variants we were invoiced for.

Well, poop.

Every phone call today: "Yes, the new comics are out." 

For those of you who are still wondering about the Civil War west coast delay thing that I'm going to be explaining to our customers for the next week, Comic Book Resources gets the story from Diamond and Marvel. Bad weather is what did the deed, apparently.

One side effect of this situation is finding out the exact numbers some other retailers are ordering on Civil War, and seeing that, on average, it's about half of what we're ordering...and we're nearly selling through on all copies. This comic may not be my cup of tea, and the domino-effect of delays it's caused throughout Marvel's publishing line is aggravating...but darned if the thing doesn't sell well. Still could do without the irritation, though.

But at least the new All Star Superman should be out. All Star Superman makes everything better...soothes all pains, heals all wounds. God bless you, All Star Superman.

And now, the Spider-Man Play Shave Set:

"Discover good grooming habits wth [sic] the Spider-Man Superhero Play Shave Set and make bath time fun time..."

For some reason, I picture the Wolverine Play Shave Set just containing a big ol' knife. And the Superman Play Shave Set would come with replica pieces of his exploded rocket ship from Krypton, so kids could pretend to reflect their "heat vision" off them to shave their imaginary invulnerable beards...okay, that went too far into nerdy-land, didn't it?

Then again, three years into this site, it's probably too late to start drawing the "too far" line.

Because I don't have enough ways to waste time online, I now find myself with a Last.FM account. Friend me if you'd like, or even if you don't. Come make fun of my musical tastes...I'm listening to Throbbing Gristle, streaming through Last.FM's webplayer, even as I type this. Fantastic.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wednesday misc. 

I know you've already heard about this elsewhere by now, but imagine my surprise Sunday, when I checked our e-mailed Diamond invoice for items arriving this week and found that we're receiving about 8% of our order for Civil War #6. Like the problems with the DC Comics from last week, west coast retailers are receiving allocated orders on this comic.

As soon as I saw that on the invoice, I suddenly had a vision of what the following week of work was going to be like. Customer after customer, coming in the store expecting the new Civil War, wondering where it is, and my having to explain repeatedly what happened. And, as usual, there's always that small percentage of folks who'll get mad at us, like it's our fault, or assume we're lying and move on to another comic shop (where they won't find it, either, probably).

Sigh. So it's not bad enough the series is behind schedule in the first place, but now we've got to wait an extra week while we take the brunt of our customers' annoyance.

Well, maybe I can take the opportunity to sell them some good comics.

A quick weblog note: Noetic Concordance has started up again, kicking off the new year with his favorite comics of 2006.

Also, pal Tom just posted his 2006 movie round-up, which you should read. Or else.

Here, have a random comic book reference in the middle of this analysis of the U.S.'s military forces:

"There might be those who liken the reality of President Bush’s predicament with a DC Comics event in 2002 intended to promote a series of comic books. 'Power Surge' was composed of seven eponymous one-shot issues involving participation by classic cartoon characters such as 'Batman' and then 'Wonder Woman' and others such as 'The Justice League.'

Or there might not.

Apparently I'm not the only one who expressed doubts at the viability of the Who Wants to Be A Superhero comic being released so long after the conclusion of the TV series: via Johanna we see that the comic's publisher, Dark Horse, has pushed back its release to tie into the show's second season.

This video is pretty rough going, but about halfway through there's a sequence of Batman TV show style sound effects that made me laugh:

And I really don't want to know what that one guy is doing to that pole in the latter half of the video.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006: The Year in Review (more or less). 

Okay, I've been stalling on the 2006 review because 1) I'm terrible at remembering what's gone on over the last year, and 2) pal Dorian already hit some of the points I wanted to make. But, I'll give it a go anyway:

Favorite comics: Gumby by Bob Burden and Rick Geary (bizarre but innocent fun), Dork #11 (Evan Dorkin hits you with gag after gag after gag after gag....), All Star Superman (only a few issues out this year, but beautifully written and drawn), Elephantmen (for a sci-fi comic about genetically engineered humanoid animals, it's oddly touching), Schizo #4 (Ivan Brunetti's long awaited strip collection), 52 (sometimes uneven, but mostly successful in sustaining its narrative on a weekly basis), Nextwave (treats Marvel superhero clichés with the respect they deserve), All Star Batman and Robin (only one issue this year, but it's a year's worth of entertainment!), Solo #11 (the all-Sergio Aragones ish), and I'm sure I'm forgetting something....

Favorite trade paperback/graphic novel: I think at the top of the list is Rick Veitch's Abraxas and the Earthman, compiling the serialized story from Marvel's Epic Illustrated magazine. I'd been waiting for this collection for years, and now that it's here, it doesn't disappoint...just as colorful and weird as I remember.

I also enjoyed Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, Gilbert Hernandez's New Tales of Old Palomar, Acme Novelty Library #17, and the latest Kim Deitch collection Shadowland.

Favorite reprints: I'm going to have to go with Dark Horse's Little Lulu volumes again. Each one is an absolute gem. The color special released this year was especially nice.

Favorite comic strip collection: While Fantagraphics' Peanuts collections are still just dandy, I'm giving the nod to their Popeye hardcover, if only because now I don't need to search on the eBay for the original Popeye albums.

Biggest surprise: Stealth Swamp Thing appearances in the DC Universe (his hand in Infinite Crisis, an old ST villain in All-New Atom), and maybe something in the new issue of Justice League of America, I'm assuming, since it was hinted at by that commenter, but I won't know until I actually receive that issue at the shop.

Another fine surprise was the creator of Gantar the Last Nabu finding this old post of mine, leaving a comment with additional information about the comic. I'm fascinated by the black and white boom and always appreciate getting background info on the books from the people who were there.

Yet another welcome surprise was a regular reader of this site being kind enough to send to me third volume of the Critic's Choice: Swamp Thing series (the first two discussed here), which I didn't even know existed. Wow.

And then there's this thing, where someone used my comments section to unload some Civil War spoilers, before the first issue had even shipped.

Biggest disappointment: Cancellation of the long awaited Swampmen book from Twomorrows. NOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Online trends that need to stop: Blogging. I mean, c'mon, don't we all have better things to be doing with our time? Okay, that and jokes about "Earth-Prime Superboy punching continuity." That one's getting a little threadbare.

Best comic book related toy: There is nothing better than the Watcher figure. The MODOK figure comes close, but loses points by being pieced out in a half-dozen or so other action figure packages. I don't want to buy a bunch of toys I don't want just so I can have a bad-ass MODOK figure. I mean, honestly.

Best comics related thingie in another medium: The Visions of Frank DVD, with many varying interpretations of Jim Woodring's silent cat character. Weird and beautiful.

Appalling discovery of the year: Not only are there extensive debates about who's more powerful, Superman or the Dragonball cartoon character Goku, but that people are honest-to-God serious about it. I ran into one of these people in person...and no, they're not joking. (Superman is more powerful, by the way.)

Second biggest disappointment: Yahoo "upgrading" their pinging service, which has broken the Comics Weblog Update-A-Tron 3000. Well, poop.

Screw-up of the year: Hard to decide: leaving off the text intro to Alan Moore's Superman story in the trade reprint was pretty bad, and the utter incompetence evident in the Ultimate Avengers DVD pop-up commentary is just embarrassing.

But I think it needs to go to the lateness issues surrounding Civil War and its impact on the rest of Marvel's publishing line. Pal Dorian covered it pretty succinctly, but if you want to see me make the same points in a more longwinded fashion, here's something I wrote for Comic Book Galaxy.

Narrowly-averted crisis of the year: THE RETURN OF POGS. At least, they didn't catch on 'round here. If they're popular in your neighborhood...don't tell me. Let me live on in blissful ignorance.

Favorite "meme:" Look no further than this thing Dorian unleashed upon us all.

Favorite online discussion: The whole "Superman versus Jedis" thing that ended with one of the all-time great creations - the Kryptonite Lightsabre.

Favorite weblog: MINE. That's it, just me. Forget you guys.

...Oh, you know I'm just joking. As always, I waffle on picking just one, since I love you all. Well, "like" you all. Okay, "tolerate." But I'm giving special attention to Dirk Deppey and Journalista, which made its welcome return this year. Along with the always essential Comics Reporter, that's just about all the comic news you can use. Or stand.

And I'm still a big fan of Chris Karath's site. He has a new URL now, you know.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year! 

Adventures of Big Boy #285 (1980) - art by Manny Stallman

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Good riddance to 2006. 

So Kid Chris pops by the shop and tells me 1) he bought his new comics somewhere else, the lousy no-good askljflffd -- and 2) that he encountered a parallel universe version of me working at another comic shop. As Swamp Thing is my favorite comic book character, this other fellow's favorite character is Marvel's swamp creature Man-Thing.

Clearly, we're going to have to have a crossover, where my counterpart and I encounter each other and immediately fight, only to realize that we're on the same side and that we have to team up and fight a common foe: a guy whose favorite comic book character is the Heap.

Anyway, that's enough reason for me to run this Comics Buyer's Guide cover again:

As a side note, this counterpart of mine is apparently clean-shaven, while I wear a goatee, which means on the Star Trek "Mirror Universe" scale that I'm the evil one.

As a side-side note...I was talking with pal Dorian on Saturday about how there should be a variation on the common usage of Godwin's Law, in regards to Star Trek. Something like: "If Star Trek is invoked in a discussion that has nothing to do with Star Trek, then [something]." I'm wavering between "the discussion is pretty much over" and "the invoker shall be pointed at and mocked accordingly."

And I'm saying this as a Star Trek fan who brings up the franchise all the time on my site. It's too late for me...SAVE YOURSELF. (And too late for Kid Chris, who was wearing his gold Classic Trek captain's shirt the day he told me about the Man-Thing fan.)

I was processing a collection today that we acquired from a customer who used to do his funnybook buying from our (now several years gone) crosstown competition. This other store used to seal their back issue bags with a large sticker with their name, address and phone number. And that reminded me of how, shortly after that other store opened, a lot of those stickers just happened to suddenly appear up and down our block, stuck near public phones, on light poles, and so on.

But then, we stuck a deal with a fast food joint, in the same shopping center where they were located, to distribute coupons for our store. Comics business in the '90s: cutthroat and heartless.

Every once in a while I feel like discussing the half-dozen or so other stores that popped up in our general area during that brief period of time when comics were HOT and COLLECTIBLE and VALUABLE and MOSTLY NOT VERY GOOD and VASTLY OVERPRIN--I mean, HOT and COLLECTIBLE. But, nah, I never see any reason to go into excessive detail...I can't blame folks for trying to make a buck, and, at the time, the comics business seemed like (and was) a lucrative way to make a living. And you all know how the story ends (comic market crashes, nearly takes entire industry with it).

Let me just leave it at "there, but for the grace of God...."

For some reason, I was also reminded of some comic fanzines I purchased some years back from a particular mail order comic company, whose idea of "Mint" apparently included "Has colored stickers applied directly to the face of the scuffed front cover." Luckily, I paid next to nothing for these items, and I'm not especially picky on my fanzine conditions (I'll accept "readable" and "no cat pee"), but still, that didn't fill me with confidence in regards to any other "Mint" items they may have had for sale.

A sad farewell to Filing Cabinet of the Damned, one of the good'uns in the comicsweblogosphere, which is ending its two year run. Best wishes to you, Mr. Jerkwater!

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