mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, March 17, 2007

"Hey, Kids...Terrify Siblings, Torture Pets!" 

from Popeye #89 (September 1967)

Let's see...I could make demonically-possessed rabbits, I could make warm clothes for animals that already have fur, I could make some kind of Lovecraftian dog-thing, and don't even get me started on the cat in overalls...and while I'm certainly not going to argue with the claim "tots love playcushions of gay scraps," the very concept of Ma and Pa Turtle raises more questions than it answers. Er, much like this whole ad.

Friday, March 16, 2007

In which I inquire as to the scent of a comic company bigwig. 

  • From a conversation at work: what I would do if I were suddenly put in charge of Wizard:

    1. Every cover: Wolverine killing a different DC hero every month, except for the cover for the annual manga issue, which would feature Goku killing Superman.

    2. Every first issue in the price guide would be highlighted with that "GOING UP" color Wizard uses.

    3. Back cover ads would be for cigarettes, or maybe some brand of alcohol (like that ad that used to be on the back covers of Marvel's old Epic Illustrated magazine).

    4. Centerfolds. "Silver Sable...as you've never seen her before!"

    ...and that's as far as folks at work let me go, when they realized that, given even the slightest taste of power, I would turn completely to the dark side.

  • A brief exchange I had, with a comics pro of my acquaintance:

    PRO: "So I met [DC Comics executive editor] Dan Didio at a convention...."

    ME: "Really? How'd he smell?"

    PRO: "...What?"

    Honestly, I have no idea why that came out of my mouth. (The answer I eventually got: Mr. Didio smelled quite nice, thank you.) (And the pro in question and I had a case of the sillies that afternoon...he's the one who encouraged that Wizard conversation, for example.)

  • Your Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 #1 report - we're down to our last two copies, and I imagine those won't last too much past opening today. Now, as I'd stated here a while back, this book was supposed to have arrived last Wednesday, and when I received a number of requests that day, I took that as a clue to put in an immediate reorder, in advance of the book's release, doubling our numbers. So, with any luck, and assuming this order doesn't get canned at the last second (like my 300 reorder from a week ago), I should have a fresh batch of first printings of the comic in my hands by next Wednesday.

    Dark Horse has since announced a sell-out and a second printing, so I'm hoping my reorder got processed before the sell-out; availability of the comics was confirmed by the distributor at the time of the reorder, so we'll see. A quick look at the eBay shows that there's no crazy panic buying/pricing on the book (aside from the limited variant covers), so supply may be be readily matching demand, so far.

  • More ordering fun: doing our order adjustments for the forthcoming Fallen Son - Death of Captain America: Wolverine. Well, I'm guessing since we already had one major mass media news event on the topic, we're probably not getting another one. And by the time it comes out, the people who only entered a comic shop because they were hypnotized by the news into buying a copy of Cap #25 will probably have all the copies of that comic they need, once the overprint starts getting distributed to shops across the country. Now, 1) it's unlikely that they'll even be aware that there are future issues to the storyline, or 2) even if they are aware, it's just as unlikely that they're going to want to come back to the comic shop week after week to get every installment, so chances aren't very good that the artificial bump in sales to folks who don't normally buy comics will continue. Given that this week's tie-in to the event, Civil War: The Confession, which prominently features a pic of Cap's bloodied shield on the cover, is currently selling within our expectations, I sort of have the impression that the "real world" demand for dead Cap stuff is limited solely to that Cap #25.

    Of course, once this "Fallen Son" stuff hits, it'll be more explicitly tied in to the apparent death, which may attract the attention of any latecomers to the "hey, I just heard Captain America died!" game.

    Now, our regular customers' interest in the event has been raised, so for that reason, we bumped up orders (reasonably, not crazily) on that first "Fallen Son" book. Here's hoping we got the numbers right.

  • So, would you like to see drawings of Supergirl? Nice drawings, good drawings, drawings that you're not going to get from DC's currently running, and mostly appalling, Supergirl series?

    Well, Project Rooftop's got 'em. Here's a sample reimagining, by Les McClaine:

    Whoa, hold on...cute, charming, anatomy approaching human norms...it's almost the opposite of any Supergirl currently in the DCU*.

    Compare with this forthcoming Justice League cover by Michael Turner, featuring Power Girl. Sweet jumpin' Judas on a pogo stick, this is an awful picture. Is it actually intended to be sexy? Because, really, it's just plain goofy. I mean, laugh-out-loud goofy. Even the writer of the comic in question is making jokes about it.

  • As long as we're looking at DC preview images, this Diamond Previews cover featuring the Sinestro Corps strikes deep into the heart of my inner fanboy. I loves me a Sinestro versus Green Lantern battle.

  • "You know your a comic book geek when......."

    "You know your a comic book geek when you criticize comic book movies and describe the canon books in which the material came from. Ex. bridge seen in Spiderman was with Gwen stacy not MJ"

    "when you call GL rings OanPowerRings"

    "You know your a comic book geek when.......... You know what X-Men tas is."

    "You know when ur a comic book geek when u try to explain to a friend (that dosent read comics) why The Silver Surfer can kick Superman's ass."

    "You know your a comic book geek when....... every time you see a falling star you secretly hope it's a dying alien who's going to give you a power ring."

    That last one just made me sad.

    My favorite:

    "You know you're a comic book geek when.... You notice the original poster of this thread spelt you're wrong"

    But then again, this one:

    "You know you a comic book geek when u contemplate which is better between hand beams and eye beams"

    ...includes a link to an actual discussion of hand beams versus eye beams:

    "Which are better?

    Ok, if you were, somehow, given the option to have eyebeams or handbeams which would you pick? (both will be at the same power level)

    Let's say it's heat beams (for example)

    Eye-beams mean that while in a grapple with somone of equal or greater strength you have another avenue of attack - burn their face.

    Hand-beams mean that you can fire in two directions at once and in a grapple you could burn their hands.

    Glowing eyes look cool ... but so do glowing fists."

    Well said.

    And I was all ready to make fun of this:

    "Hand beams generally create explosions when they hit the ground, making them harder to dodge."

    ...but, um, I think he's right. That's how it usually works in comics. God help us all.

* The Supergirl currently appearing in Supergirl & The Legion of Super-Heroes aside, of course.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Yes, I'm posting about Episode II; Buffy and that other comic; going insane; America's #1 American. 

So I was watching Star Wars: Episode III yesterday evening, and was reminded of the above Lego playset, based on a scene from Episode II. You know, the scene where (and, um, SPOILER, I guess...but if you haven't seen it by now, you ain't going to, probably) Anakin takes vengeance for his mom's death at the hands of the Sandpeople by wiping out an entire community of them, including children.

Compare with the Lego packaging, where a l'il smiling Anakain is flying by his Sandpeople pals. I always found this bit of tie-in licensing a bit disconcerting, though I imagine Lucasfilm would have balked at "Anakin's Tusken Massacre." And a commenter or two at that Lego site I linked to lament the lack of a figure for Anakin's mom. What, a smiling Anakin about to slaughter a bunch of Sandpeople wasn't enough, you need a figure for Anakin's dead or dying mom, too? Smiling, of course.

I wonder if there was a Lego "Younglings Encounter" set for the third film?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 made its delayed debut this week, and I was a little worried that I wasn't hearing the same interest in the title from the customers this Wednesday that I heard last Wednesday. However, as it turned out, we'd nearly sold through our order by the end of the day, so I'm no longer sweating the possibility that the reorder I'd placed for extra copies last week are going to sit there.

At least, I hope not.

And on the topic of reorders: that comic that shall not be named (and I discussed all last week)...I'm getting reports of the reorders finally getting shipped to stores, and from what I heard from our distributor rep, not only were the reorders we placed before the deadline for guaranteed fills on their way, we're almost certainly going to get the rest we ordered after that deadline. Which leads me to believe, unless demand remains high, we're all gonna be going from famine to feast on this funnybook right quick. I believe I described this comic to the Employees as "going from Superman #75 to Adventures of Superman #500 over the course of a couple weeks."

Sign #82 that Mike has lost his mind:

Walking past Employee Jeff and a customer, while singing the following song to myself, but within their hearing:

"Here I come
Here comes Mike Racer
I'm a demon on wheels
I'm a demon and I'm gonna be chasin' after someone...."

I'm losing my mind.

There's a phrase I throw around a lot at work, simply because it amuses me, and, probably, no one else: "America's #1 American." Now, it used to be Chuck Norris who was America's #1 American (see why here and here), but it appears he's been supplanted by no less a personage than Stephen Colbert, America's new #1 American:

Okay, it's shameless Marvel huckstering, but I'll let it slide this once.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"A far-out sportsman who lost his body in a racing crash, but whose kookie human brain survives inside a robot body!" 

from Doom Patrol #105 (August 1966) by Arnold Drake & Bruno Premiani

A fond farewell to comics writer Arnold Drake, creator of the Doom Patrol, as well as one of my all-time favorite oddball DC titles Stanley and his Monster, to name only two of his many credits. Mark Evanier has more information about the man.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

One year closer to death. 

from Archie's Pals 'n' Gals #10 (Fall '59)

Yeah, it's my birthday again...they just keep comin', one every year. Though I feel like I've aged about a year just in the last week...arguing with folks on the internet will do that to you. Internet arguments are like trying to sweep the desert - you don't get anywhere, and it just makes you tired.

So I'm taking the day off today, but not before posting a couple things:
  • Happy birthday to my birthday brother Andrew at Armagideon Time. He was also born on March 13th, but three years later than me. Why, he's practically just a baby! (EDIT: In his birthday post, Andrew dedicates to me a late addition to pal Dorian's Meme That Wouldn't Die. Yes, it has Swamp Thing in it.)

  • Thanks to Johanna for letting me know about this article on alternative minimum tax with an entirely random Swamp Thing reference:

    "Dispatching the alternative minimum tax is like trying to kill the Swamp Thing, a Hollywood horror beast of the 1970s that kept resurfacing no matter how many times you tried to get rid of it."

    Oh, okay, su...wha-huh?

  • And just because it's my birthday: here, have another Myspace Swamp Thing:

    "About me:

    "What's up people? I'm a crime fighting vegetable in the swamps of Louisiana! When I'm not slapping some evil mad scientist like a little b*tch; I'm mackin' wid da Cajun hos. You ever wanna go slummin' with me, holla. Oh, and I'm Jewish; so shalom biotch!

    "Who I'd like to meet:

    "I'd like to meet a woman that knows how to treat a plant right. You know, a woman that doesn't mind fetching a little miracle-gro for me from time to time. I'm not saying I'm high maintenance, this brother just needs a little sunshine and fertilizer now and then. And I'm packin' a twelve inch cucumber so if she was tall that would be good too. She also has to like swimming and can't be afraid of alligators and snakes and sh*t."

    I can't help but think that this sounds slightly different from the Swamp Thing I'd been reading about all these years.

    He's also a member of the adults-only Myspace group "gEt reaDy fOr a naSty tiMe," which, again, seems a tad out of character for ol' Swampy.

See you all tomorrow!

Richie Rich Billions #14 (January '77)

Monday, March 12, 2007

I swear to God, I never want to type the words "Captain" and "America" in that order ever again. 

Here's an ad from Richie Rich Billions #14 (Jan. '77):

Okay, talking about Halloween costumes in March is, perhaps, a little untimely, but man, dig that crazy Jaws costume:

The only actual photo of this fantastic costume I could find online was on this page, about halfway down. (Note: pop-under ads on that site, some with sound).

In other, non-Halloween, news:
  • I keep finding people via the referrals logs who think this article is real. That's what I get for not making my spoofs funny, I guess.

  • This is perhaps an odd consequence of the past week's Captain America mania: the latest issue of Onslaught Reborn has two covers, one prominently featuring Cap, and one that does not. Guess which cover is consistently outselling the other? COINCIDENCE?

  • In response to comments left on my site, and seen elsewhere: I don't really blame Marvel for last week's Cap shenanigans. They tried to get people to order more Caps without coming right out and saying "hey, he's gonna die! DIE I tell you!" and spoiling it for everyone...though honestly, reading between the lines in the solicits, it was pretty clear what was going to happen and when. So it wasn't as if we ignored them or anything...we looked at what was going on, we gauged customer interest, we looked at sales of other Civil War tie-ins, and ordered accordingly.

    And then everyone was blindsided by the mass media coverage and subsequent, and non-predictable, huge increase in traffic by folks outside the usual customer base...but I think if I talk about this again, y'all are going to mob outside my castle with the rakes and torches.

    I just felt it was probably necessary to bring it up one more time, since I get the feeling I'm going to be used in the very near future as an example of "here's a funnybook seller who didn't order enough! Wasn't he dumb!" with absolutely no acknowledgment of my particular argument.

  • So, does everyone think this Cap-mania is going to carry over into future issues of Captain America and the "Fallen Son" tie-ins?

    Yeah, me neither. Haven't you heard? Captain America #25 was the last issue! At least, that's what I heard all last week from people looking for it, so it must be true.

  • I also saw elsewhere an inquiry into sales of Civil War: The Return, and how that fared in comparison to what's going on with Cap now. Well, in our case, again, we saw how Civil War tie-ins were doing, we noted that Marvel indicated this was the return of a major once-dead character, and we ordered accordingly.

    And we got it almost perfect, selling nearly all the way through on the shelf, with just a few left over for any stragglers looking for a copy after the month shelflife for the title was up.

    Now, if there had been some kind of huge mainstream media push on the comic that drove folks into stores looking for it (which, yes, I know, wouldn't have happened because this is Captain Marvel we're talking about, and only nerds like you and me know who he is...though I remain surprised the general public is even marginally aware of who Captain America is), we would have blown through all our copies right quick, and we'd be in the same situation we are now with the Cap thing.

    And even if Marvel extolled us to raise orders because they thought retailers didn't order enough, and if we listened to them...we probably would have just raised orders enough to accommodate possible increased interest from our usual customer base, and not enough to cover the invading hordes of lookie-loos and savvy investors who saw the book on the n...

    ...okay, "rakes," "torches," moving on.

  • I've also seen Civil War #2 (the Spidey reveals his identity issue) being thrown around as some kind of indicator that, due to the media attention that received, and due to the fact that Marvel tried to get folks to up their orders on that book, we should have listened when Marvel tried to get us to do the same with Cap.

    I don't know about other stores, but while Civil War #2 did get a slight bump in sales at our shop from new customers who saw it/heard it in a mass media outlet of some kind, it was nowhere near what happened with the Cap thing. We didn't sell out of it during the month it was on the rack, for example. It did finally sell out as a back issue, but that's because some folks started the series with issue three or four and wanted to catch up.

  • Okay, and that makes every day SINCE LAST WEDNESDAY that I've talked about this. Until I have something new to say (i.e. noting sales on the restock of the first printing, sales on any reprints, people trying to sell me full cases of the comic once the market for 'em bottoms out), I'm dropping the subject. (But let me link to what The Rack has to say about all this before I do.)

    So, as an apology to my faithful readers who have had to put up with my rantings and my bad temper and my saying the same darned thing over and over again in the hopes that some folks would eventually catch a clue...here's that Jaws costume again:

    Ah, crazy-scary Jaws costume, deliver me from this maddening world.

  • SPECIAL NOTE TO FOLKS WHO WRITE ME E-MAIL: Please keep sending me e-mail, as I always enjoy hearing from readers of the site. But please keep in mind that, um, my response times to your e-mails are, shall we say, suboptimal.

    I'll answer your e-mails, eventually, I promise, sorta.

So long, Richard.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

In which Mike tries to find his center. 

Okay, I just slightly lost my temper about things yesterday, even though pal Dorian told me I wasn't nearly harsh enough in my dealings with armchair comics-retailing quarterbacks. But, I'm gonna try to let it go, if only because I can say the same thing over and over so many times that even I get sick of it, much less you, the reader.

I'm just trying to get across the fact that we order things as best as we can with the information given, and that we can't order things by guessing, somehow, that mainstream media coverage on the day of release is going to drive hordes of non-comic fans into stores seeking the book. That's a fluke event that can't be predicted or depended upon.

Most of you get that...I just wish the few that don't would as well.

Er, not doing a very good job letting go, am I?

To cleanse the palate, have a couple of panels taken totally out of context from Just Married #107 (Sept. 1975):

It's funnier if you have a dirty mind, like, oh, say, pal Tom.

Speaking of funny (which I'm not, as you'll recall), the latest installment of Benjamin Birdie and Kevin Church's webcomic, The Rack, was inspired by an exchange between me and former employee Kid Chris from a few months back. Kevin thanked me for the idea, so I thought that now the strip has been unleashed upon the world, I'd relate said exchange.

First, read the strip. No, really, go read it. I'll be here when you're done.

Hmmm hm hm...hmmm hmmm...oh, hi! Okay, here's the very, very brief conversation Kid Chris and I had:

KID CHRIS: "Mike, you need a new window painting for the store."

ME: "Like what?"

KID CHRIS: "How about a Civil War painting? You could have Iron Man leading Luke Cage to his prison cell in handcuffs."


Yeah, for some reason, I thought that painting could be construed as offensive.

I do still need a new window painting, though. Maybe a big picture of Captain America trying to sell a case of Turok #1s.

Sorry, that just slipped out.

Oh, hey, via Metafilter comes this overview of the only good post-Grant Morrison issue of Doom Patrol's second series. Well, "good" as in "it's not good in the traditional sense, but it's a hoot." (And perhaps that's not entirely fair calling this the only "good" issue, since I've been told that things pick up a bit in the later Ted McKeever-illustrated issues.)

At the store on Saturday, employee Jeff and I were talking about, for some reason, the possible existence of a Harry Potter role playing game, which brought up the possibility of the horror of a live action Harry Potter role playing game, which brought me to a piece of merchandise I don't think I've seen yet for the Harry Potter-verse.

A talking Sorting Hat (sound at link).

There are plenty of wearable Sorting Hat replicas that I've found with the Google. But what I'm talking about is a Sorting Hat that includes a voice chip with randomized soundbytes that play when the hat is worn, announcing which house the wearer belongs to, that sort of thing. And maybe some simple animatronics to make the hat move around and its mouth open and close.

Okay, it's kind of dopey, and just a little creepy, but I'm totally surprised such a thing doesn't yet exist (or if it does, I haven't found it...let me know if I missed something).

THIS ISN'T ME: Swamp Thing on the Myspace.

"Who I'd like to meet:
Nice, ecologically minded people. No one associated with Arcane and his sinister un-men. Friends of John Constantine are o.k."


"Swamp Thing's Interests

"General: Conferring with the parliament of trees, reconstituting my physical form in different parts of the world, spending time with my lover Abigail, thwarting my arch-nemesis Anton Arcane, eating psychedelic tubers that grow out of my back.

"Music: The plaintive cries of bayou birds, Creedence"

Dude, I don't think Swamp Thing eats his own tubers. You know, even as I typed that, I couldn't believe what I was writing. Look what you've done to me, Internet.

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