mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, February 24, 2007

"You can be the Ghost Rider!" 

from Straight Arrow #35 (March/April 1954)

Friday, February 23, 2007


As a seller of funnybooks, I would like to present my unbiased rebuttal to Kevin's recent essay:


Buy everything. If it features a character you like, buy it. If it features a character that once met a character you like, buy it. If it features a creator you like, buy it. If it features a creator you don't like, buy it so you can complain about the creator online. If you're not enjoying reading the comic, hell, keep buying it, it's bound to get better eventually. What are you, a quitter? You don't want to have any holes in your collection, do you? Of course you don't. Other comic fans will laugh and point at you, and rightfully so. So BUY MORE COMICS. If there are multiple covers, buy one of each. In fact, what you should do is buy two of each cover, so you can keep a set aside for future investment potential, and have a set for reading...it's important to have one of each cover, in case you want to read the story underneath one cover as opposed to the other. Oh, and crossover events, you gotta get all those. You're gonna feel left out if you don't know what's going on in the superhero multiverse of your choice. (Or, heck, choice nothing...you should be reading all the superhero multiverses.) Let's see, you'll need to buy the primary crossover event, and all the tie-ins...and you'll probably want to buy two sets of the tie-ins, so you can store one set with in the storage box devoted just to the crossover, and the other set where the titles would be normally filed. That way, if you have an issue of Bungee Cord Warriors that ties into Crisis of Infinite Pants, you can have one copy in your Bungee Cord Warriors box and another in your Crisis of Infinite Pants box. See how that works? You may want to think about buying a third set for actual reading...perhaps third and fourth sets so you can store those along with the keeper sets in the separate boxes.

So BUY MORE COMICS. I don't care what. Just buy some. Preferably from me. Give me your money. DO IT NOW.

...You people are so damned lucky I use my powers for good, and not for evil.

In other, less sarcastic news:

"The Infinite Crisis of Comics" - article on New York Comic Con focuses on gradual death of superhero comics, and why Marvel and DC's output won't appeal to anyone not already reading their books.

Live-action Justice League of America movie threatened.

"United States: The World’s Batman?"

"President Bush reminds Americans that he believes the U.S. is the sole force responsible for protecting the world from evil. Likewise, in the original 1989 film Batman, Bruce Wayne believes that he must defend the city 'because nobody else can.' Batman and America have devoted themselves to the idea that one man or one nation can address the myriad of problems the world faces. Consequently, Batman and the U.S. take it upon themselves to fight the rogues of the world—be they dumpy cranks like the Penguin and Kim Jong-il, or menaces who always answer questions by posing them, like the Riddler and Iranian President Ahmadinejad. In doing so, they invest their very beings into attaining a specific world order. And they even have the help of staunch sidekicks: Batman’s got Robin, America’s got Tony Blair!"

Hey, it's pal Dorian's birthday today! Happy birthday, boy chum!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Progressive Ruin Presents...the End of Civilization. 

Once more into the breach, my friends, as you and I storm the latest issue of the Diamond Previews catalog (March '07)...grab your copy and follow along, won't you?

p. 312 - Angel: Masks:

You know, that "Angel turns into a puppet" episode of Angel is probably the peak of the whole Buffyverse saga...it's cute, it's funny, it's self-mocking, it's actually as good as some hardcore Buffy fans think every episode is, and for some reason, every time one of the licensees dips into the puppet well, it diminishes the original for me. I've spoken before about the multiple Angel-as-puppet dolls, and the apparently based-on-fanfic Spike-as-puppet doll (resolicited this month, in fact!), and now this comic, featuring a Angel puppet story. Hey, maybe it'll be great, but I'm all puppeted out.

p. 393 - The Wolverine Handbook:

I so wanted this to be a "How to become just like Wolverine" instruction manual. "First, don't take any grief from anyone, bub. Second, get claws, learn how to use 'em." Alas, it seems to be just a Marvel Universe Handbook-style biographical overview.

p. 422 - Samurai Sandals:

"Not only did the Samurai have to protect their bodies with metal armor, but they also had to protect their feet! Now you can feel like a warrior with these cool Samurai sandals! NOTE: Not available in Germany."

Whoops, sorry, my German friends. NO SAMURAI FOR YOU. Also, it's odd that there's no indication that this is some kind of merchandising tie-in to a Japanese cartoon (like everything else in this section). It's just, hey, a pair of sandals, offered up in the funnybook catalog! I wonder if any other sandals had been offered by Diamond before...like Hulk flip-flops or something.

p. 425 - "Comics Are..." Black t-shirt:

Oh, I beg to differ, my friend. May I point out to you the Diamond Previews adult supplement....?

p. 446 - Star Trek The Original Series "Cloth Retro" Series 1 Kirk & Klingon Action Figures:

It always ages you just a little when toys you had as a young'un are reissued as "retro" items. Yes, I had these figures, and more besides. I even had the big 'ol Enterprise bridge playset...okay, now I'm depressing myself.

p. 462 - Star Trek The Original Series "Landing Party" Spock 40th Anniversary Statue:

"Captain, look, over there...I believe I see...a nerd...."

(Yeah, I know, so says the guy who had the Enterprise playset.)

p. 462 - Star Wars Jawa mini-bust:

Actually, you get two Jawa busts in this set. How cool is that? I'm not really poking fun or anything...I just loves me the Jawas.

p. 481 - Demonbane Aru & Raika 1/8 PVC Statue:

"The new anime series Demonbane [based on a hit video game] mixes elements of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos with the time-honored traditions of the Giant Robot anime for a genre-busting series that must be experienced!"

Okay, I'm going to guess the "sexy girls in bikinis" thing must be one of those time-honored Giant Robot anime traditions, because Lovecraft probably would have keeled over dead (I mean, sooner than he already did) if ever saw anything like this.

p. 484 - Jaws 12-inch Plush with Sound:

"It also features a sound-chip that plays the classic John Williams theme music when you squeeze his body!"

You know, when I was a kid, I had quite a few Jaws-related (or at least inspired) items, which, now that I think about it, was kind of odd. But this item would have fit right in.

p. 498 - Spider-Man 3 Push Light:

Let's see, normally you can get these at the 99-cent store, but slap some Spider-Man stickers on 'em...and now you got yourself a $5.99 item. Well done, sirs, well done.

p. 500 - Shrek Talking Pens:

Celebrate one of the most overexposed film franchises of recent memory with pens containing sound chips featuring your favorite Shrek characters. Guaranteed to aggravate everyone within hearing, with the almost-certain exception of the person who actually owns the pen. Fun for everyone!

Marvel Previews p. 87 - Marvel Milestones Zombie Spider-Man & Mary Jane Statue:

For those of you looking for a way to really confirm the neighbors' opinions about you. I mean, you all know how crap like this looks to the uninitiated, right? "Why do you have a statue of evil Spider-Man standing with a gutted woman, Bob?" "Well, uh...." "I don't believe you are the type of person we'd want at our fourth annual neighborhood weenie roast/charity sack race, Bob...good day to you, sir."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Yes, that's right, Happy Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk Day, as it's been exactly one year* since the second, and, thus far, last issue of this proposed six-issue series was released to the eagerly-awaiting public.

Marvel's page for #3 still has the release date of May 17th, 2006, though it has since been announced that the series is off the schedule until all remaining issues are completed.

So celebrate with me one year of having to repeatedly tell customers "No, I'm sorry, I'm not sure when it will be out." Celebrate the order numbers for Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk #3 being presented to me for adjustment on several occasions, filling me with some small false hope that it may actually be released. Celebrate the fact that as often as I was asked about the comic in early to mid-'06, I only sporadically get questions about it now...customers usually asking in the context of "Pfffft...typical Marvel!"

And celebrate with me just one more nail in the coffin of comic book consumer confidence. Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk, All-Star Batman, Civil War, Wonder Woman...thanks, guys, for giving me the opportunity to explain your problems to my customers! I couldn't be happier!

* Okay, it'll actually be one year on the 22nd, but I thought this celebration would be more fitting on the day the new comics are released. Think of it as "Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk Day (observed)."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It may not be what you want, but it's certainly what you need. 

"Mardi Gras celebrations grow in Grand Rapids"

"The Super Happy Funtime Burlesque show will highlight the New Orleans-themed bar's four-day Mardi Gras celebration, which kicked off Saturday."


"Tonight's event, which starts at 9 p.m. is burlesque in the classic sense -- provocative, funny entertainment for adults -- but with a New Orleans twist. The show will include a jazz-style funeral procession, a reincarnation ritual, 'Swamp Thing' dancers and a living voodoo doll."

"Swamp Thing dancers."




Whatever it is I'm picturing in my head, it surely isn't what's happening at this Mardi Gras event.

Is it?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Catching up. 

Geez, this flu is still lingering, but when a man's gotta blog, a man's gotta blog, so let me at least address a few items here before I go wrap the drapery of my couch about myself again:
  • A "good luck 'n' fare thee well" to pal Ian, who's putting aside the weblogging thing in favor of paying writing work. Oh, sure, be like that, why don't you.

    Best wishes, buddy. Don't forget the little people you've left behind!

  • One thing about being sick is that you watch a whole lot of TV that normally you wouldn't watch...I'd mentioned that I finally inflicted the Spawn movie on myself last week. Well, I also saw the Hulk movie again, for the first time since experiencing it in the theatre, and...you know, that's not a bad movie. I'm not saying it's perfect, not saying it's the pinnacle of the genre...but this movie at least had the sense to have the Hulk fighting the army in the desert, which is like every '70s Hulk comic I remember. There are moments of simple beauty, with the Hulk leaping through said desert, finding peace in the quiet of his own solitude. I like the relationships between the characters, I like the multiple-image inset-picture etc. (you know what I'm talking about, even if I can't describe it properly) direction that resembles comic book pages, I like those two moments in the film when the Hulk speaks. Even the much-maligned climatic battle between the Hulk and Banner's father didn't bother me so much this time around.

    That said, I could happily watch a two hour movie of the Hulk just fighting things and tearing up cities, without all that "character development" and "dramatic structure" you kids are into. Lowest common denominator? Yeah, probably.

  • Okay, I just discovered via Chris' podcast that Kevin Church has some unsettling domestic fantasies involving yours truly.

  • Pal JP has been posting up a storm lately, but I wanted to point out the "Swamp Thing folk art" he found.

    1. Explain the Marvelman/Miracleman publishing history/ownership issues/legal brouhaha.

  • For the three of you who missed the news: Fantagraphics to release the complete Walt Kelly's Pogo. Another classic strip, given the complete, chronological reissuing, which is great news for classic strip fans. (One step closer to the complete U.S. Acres...keep your fingers crossed!)

  • Pal Dorian got this close to Dolly Parton, and this time security didn't have to drag him away. No, I'm not jealous, why do you ask?

  • Whenever a superhero movie opens, the one thing we can depend on at the shop is repeated iterations of this question: "Have you seen it yet?" No need to identify what it is, of course...there's a new superhero movie, we're in a comic book store, what else could it possibly be? Sometimes when I'm asked this, if I feel like being a jerk, I'll feign ignorance. "Why, whatever do you mean, good sir? Please, speak plainly!" I'll retort, as I polish my monocle, glaring at the person over my bushy handlebar mustache.

    This time around, though, when I was asked "did you see it," I'd totally forgotten, in the fevered delirium of my illness, that the Ghost Rider film had opened. And that this was apparently, after conferring with Employees Aaron and Jeff, one of the two times this was asked of us since the film debuted. It's not like we weren't busy...we had a store full of people all weekend...but there was nearly no discussion of the film instigated by the clientele, unlike every other superhero movie opening weekend ever. Obviously, somebody saw the film, since it was the top moneymaker this weekend, but I guess our customers weren't among those crowds. Either that, or the customers for once decided not to bring it up.

    I did have one fellow looking for Ghost Rider comics for his four and five-year-old niece and nephew. The niece wanted Krypto, which I tried to sell the uncle on, but nope, Ghost Riders for everybody!

  • Speaking of Ghost Rider, star Nicolas Cage ain't happy about a crack made about his new film in Entertainment Weekly.

  • So we have these comments from an interview with Fantastic Four star Ioan Gruffud:

    AICN: I'm just going to ask: does Galactus play a role in this film?

    Ioan Gruffud: Um...his presence is felt in the movie. He doesn't physically appear, no. Galactus does have a form, doesn't he, in the comic books?

    AICN: Actually he has a really beautifully designed costume that Jack Kirby created. It's a fairly elaborate costume actually with all sorts of machinations. When I first heard that the Silver Surfer would be in this second film and people were being a bit evasive about whether Galactus appeared, I'd assumed that the second film would set up the coming of Galactus, and that the actual confrontation with him would occur in the third film.

    Ioan Gruffud: It's more of a finite movie than the first one. It's not open-ended in that sense. But Galactus doesn't actually appear, so it does leave room for that possibility.

    Compare with the quote from this interview with Fox chairman Tom Rothman (which I'd mentioned before):

    "IESB: Is [Galactus] going to look like anything like we’ve seen him in the comic books?

    TR: Yes, I think that Galactus, look, I don’t want to give away too much, right, but I will say this, Galactus will appear and fans will not be disappointed."

    WHY MUST HOLLYWOOD TOY WITH MY EMOTIONS? Just give me my planet-eating Galactus, you bastards!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Still sick... 

...and if I have to suffer, so do you:

(Real content should resume tomorrow. Hopefully.)

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