mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, March 24, 2007

"The zingy new Marvel mag that kids are shouting about!" 

Pizzazz subscription card insert from Captain America #217 (Jan '78)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Spotted on the eBay. 


"Buffy Season 8 #1 Set Both Covers Variants
Come and Get It Mouth Breathers! Fast Shipping!"

Okay, I'll admit I've had days like this, but I don't think I'd outright say something like that in the title of my eBay auction.

EDIT: Thought I'd save a screenshot for posterity:

Also...if you're going to sell something by Neil Gaiman on the eBay, it may behoove you to spell both "Neil" and "Gaiman" correctly, and not spell them as "Niel" and "Gaimon."

A link or two for me and you. 

Pal JP, inspired by my Heap post, has put up a full classic Heap story for your bemusement.

Via Johanna: a 3 Geeks movie is in the works! Here's the teaser site, and the site of the 3 Geeks' creator Rich Koslowski.

And, just for some much-needed Swamp Thing content...a trio of interesting visual interpretations of everyone's favorite muck-encrusted mockery of a man.

"Bam. Zap. Splat. Kpow!" (Special "News Stories from Australia" Edition) 

"Marvel in the Middle East"

"Bam. Zap. Splat. Kpow!

"Fans of comic book superheroes Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men will be able to see their favourite characters when a new theme park opens in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates by 2011."


"'Marvel is a brand that is recognized globally via its ever expanding list of superhero characters,' said Mohamed Khammas, head of the Al Ahli Group, in a statement.

"'Now, it won't be much longer until the children in Pan Arabia and the world can experience new and exciting rides with Marvel's Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four and many other superheroes right here in the UAE.'"

"Hints for super pollies"

"It must be difficult going to bed one day thinking you're an ordinary person. Sniff! Scratch! Yawn!

"But then wake up with supernatural powers. Eee-yow! Zap! Kerplop!

"But this is an election year and all politicians must go through this super hero transformation, especially party leaders. Wham! Bam! But no thank you ma'am."


"Whoosh! Whoopee! As the election campaigning heats up, you see super hero powers emerging.

"Super John, aka Bland Man, dons a green and gold tracksuit and walks at an unruffled pace to save any Aussie in trouble anywhere in Australia.

"Whereas Captain Kevin, aka Neat Man, has shown such well-groomed poise under trying media conditions that he could give master classes on how to keep your hair in place in a cyclone."

In the "I'm totally jealous of this guy" department: "The comic book guy"

"This 73-year-old publisher can hardly wait to get to work every morning - it keeps him young.

"Comic book hero The Phantom may enjoy worldwide kudos as 'the man who cannot die' but his Australian publisher Jim Shepherd could perhaps be equally well celebrated as 'the boy who never grew up.'"


"'I can hardly wait to get to the office every morning,' Shepherd says. 'Right at this very minute I'm looking at a pile of artwork that dates back to 1939, just making sure that every single page is there. It keeps you young, it really does.'"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The only thing worse than nerds is sarcastic nerds. 

Employee Jeff: "Hey, that 'Spoon!' t-shirt...is it a Tick t-shirt?"

Me: "No, it's a shirt for fans of silverware."

Jeff: "Did you say 'Civil Ware?'"

Me: "'Which Side of the Dinner Plate Are You On?'"

Employee Aaron: "'I'm with Spork!'"

Me: "'Oh, no, someone's killed Lazy Susan!'"


Okay, a Lazy Susan isn't silverware, you got me.

Finally got our restock of Captain America #25 in time for new comics day, delayed as it was by an error either at UPS or our distributor...I never did get the straight story on that. At any rate, the comics were here in time for that window for sales to folks who don't normally buy comics to be pretty much closed. We still did brisk business in them, however, but mostly to the regular funnybook fans who missed out a couple weeks ago.

Oddly, we also received an extra ten copies of this issue with our regular weekly new comics order, with no mention of them on our invoice.

I did have one fellow look at the copies on the shelf and ask me "are these really cover price? And they're first printings? Really?"

We also received our restock of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 #1...because of the much-publicized second printing, I put a little sign by our restock stating that these were, indeed, first printings, because I didn't feel like answering that question all day. And, granted, we've only had them back in stock since Wednesday, but nobody seemed to care. Uh, oh. Maybe we did order just enough copies the first time around.

Okay, I'm panicking too early...I've had enough requests for the new Buffy comic since our sell-out last week that I'm reasonably certain we'll move most of these extra copies. Plus, with several more issues to go, having a wee bit of stock for the back issue bins isn't a bad idea.

I was chatting with former employee Nathan, who stopped by the shop yesterday, and as he was regaling us with his brushes with celebrities in his new stomping grounds of San Francisco, I was reminded of two incidents of celebrities in our store that I'll relate to you, primarily because they both make me look dumb:

1. A bearded man in a heavy jacket and a baseball cap was lurking about the front of the store, poking through some of our newspaper strip reprint books and looking a tad suspicious. I kept half an eye on him, making sure he wasn't "accidentally" putting some of our books into his jacket. Eventually, he gathered up some books and took them to the counter, where pal Dorian took care of the transaction.

After the man had left, Dorian asked me, "Hey, did you know who that was?" I didn't, and Dorian told me that the man was John Ritter, who, at the time, was performing a play at a small theatre down the street from us.

Yes, I thought John Ritter, God rest his soul, was a potential shoplifter. Yes, I felt like a jerk.

2. Shorter story: John (Dukes of Hazzard, Smallville, Speed Zone) Schneider came into our store, I looked him straight in the face, and I didn't recognize him. Again, celebrity spotter Dorian knew who it was right off, but not me, the guy who actually watched Smallville every week.

Sad, really.

So long, Calvert

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


The Heap #1 (Skywald, Sept. 1971) by Bob Kanigher, Tom Sutton & Jack Abel

So a woman, fleeing a lion escaped from the zoo, stumbles over the Heap, who apparently is just kicking back in the middle of a field:

After dispatching the lion, the Heap leans over the now-unconscious woman, painfully reminded of his own lost humanity, and, quite frankly, creeping the rest of us out, man:

The woman awakes, and the Heap makes a startling realization:

Just then, a trio of hunters happens upon the pair, and attack, naturally assuming the Heap means to do the woman harm. The Heap responds in kind:

After knocking out the hunters, the Heap takes his leave of both them and the woman, and takes a moment to remember for the sake of the reader the accident that resulted in his current monstrous form:

Eventually, his wanderings take him to a cemetery, where he is accosted by a group of supernatural creatures lead by Master Scythe:

Refusing to join their merry band, the Heap briefly fights them, but they vanish without a trace. This encounter only reminds the Heap of his horrible solitude:

In the meantime, the woman from the beginning of the story is seeking a cornea transplant from a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein, who just happens to have a townhome in the area, and who refuses to perform the operation until he can duplicate his ancestor's greatest success:

After the woman departs, the Heap, who coincidentally happened upon the doctor's home in the middle of the moors, wanders in and scrapes a message into the wall (with not bad penmanship, considering):

The Heap pleads with the doctor to restore the woman's sight, and the doctor agrees, but on one condition (and, from all appearances, the doctor apparently doesn't recall how things worked out for his famous ancestor):

An agreement is reached, and Dr. Frankenstein immediately begins the operation, in his safe and sterile environment, aside from the HUGE FREAKING SWAMP CREATURE CHAINED TO THE WALL. And say, are those assistants robots?

Why, yes, they are.

After Dr. Declarative finishes his operation, the woman (needing "no recovery period" due to the controlled environment, inc. 1 swamp monster) immediately wakes and reacts in horror to the Heap. Despairing, the Heap goes berserk and busts out of the operating room:

Too late, the woman realizes that this silent monster is the person that rescued her from the lion:

The Heap, not hearing the woman's calls to wait, rushes out into the lightning storm and pleads for his own destruction:


And sure enough, he's zapped into powder by lightning, but regenerates:

...And he wanders off into comic book obscurity, eventually to be revived in Eclipse Comics' Airboy series, retooled into a character for Todd McFarlane's Spawn, complete with action figure, and one or two stealth appearances as a background character in Swamp Thing.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Buffy, Swamp Thing, the Finger, and Geekery. 

So I've been trying to think of a way to discuss the Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 situation (particularly, why initial orders on the first issue weren't any higher than they already were) without 1) getting into another incessant series of posts like my 245 entries about Captain America #25, and 2) inadvertently starting some kind of pro-Joss Whedon uprising in my comments section started by folks who mistakenly believe I'm trying to cast aspersions upon the man and his work.

And I've been sitting here, for the last forty-five minutes, trying to hammer together an explanation that didn't go into excruciatingly boring detail and didn't sound like I was slamming Whedon.

I mean, on one hand, previous Buffy comics weren't selling all that great, and current Angel and Spike comics aren't doing so hot, either; on the other hand, Whedon's involvement and the whole "Season 8"/"official continuation of the TV series" gimmick was bound to spur sales; on the other other hand, there's no current Buffy TV show to drive sales (like when Whedon's Serenity film helped move the Serenity comics prequel); on the fourth theoretical hand, there's sales on Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, but is that selling primarily because of Whedon, because it's a new continuity-light X-title with the familiar characters, or because of the novelty of a famous person writing a comic starring characters people know (would they be buying Whedon's Astonishing Slapstick, for example...or Runaways, which he actually will be writing)?

So, yeah, there's a lot of thinking that has to go into ordering a title like this, and we ordered what we thought were pretty good numbers. And, once again, like what happened with Captain America #25, there was some mainstream media coverage that helped drive new customers into stores looking for this comic, which couldn't be planned or depended upon back when we placed our orders.

But, as I've already noted, the pushing back of the release date by a week actually worked to our advantage, as I was able to see the increased demand for the book on the day of its supposed release and reorder accordingly (and we are apparently getting more first printings in on Wednesday...at least, they're on our invoice, and with any luck, they'll actually be in our shipment, too).

Ultimately, we ordered the best we could with the information we had available, and took a slight chance by ordering more copies than the recent moribund sales of other books from the same franchise would seemingly justify. And when it happily turned out there was still some life in the license, I was luckily able to order more. And it's not as if orders for the book were low; it's just that the eventual demand was greater than most folks expected.

There's a lot more detail I could get into in regards to this, but I've been poking at this post long enough. Any clarification you'd like, please ask me in the comments section.

In other news:
  • It occurred to me why, as long as there's a Vertigo Comics division of DC Comics, Swamp Thing will always be part of it. It's because Swamp Thing is a flagship character of the imprint; in a way, it's Alan Moore's work on Swamp Thing that paved the way for Vertigo's eventual creation, and to lose Swamp Thing to the regular DC Universe would be giving up one of the imprint's most visible characters. Now that I've realized that, I'll probably stop going on about trying to get Swampy back into the DCU. Though I'll still wish it'll happen, someday.

  • Something interesting in the new Mad Magazine: an inhouse ad for a subscription to the Mad Classics reprint magazine, promising an actual, authentic copy of this issue from 1974:

    The accompanying text explains how magazine dealers at the time returned this issue in droves, offended by its cover, and cases of the returns were simply stored by the publisher...until I guess they got tired of storing the things and are now trying to unload them on unsuspecting subscribers.

    Hah! But I kid. I think this is a great gimmick; how can you look at that cover and not want one? (And yes, I do have a copy.) It's a genuine classic, and a hearty "well done" to Mad Magazine for their cunning scheme.

    You can get some details on the issue's contents at the Collect Mad site.

  • I've been enjoying Siskoid's Blog of Geekery lately, particularly his ongoing reviews of the animated Star Trek episodes (here's the latest one).

Monday, March 19, 2007

Gone fishin'. 

from Aquaman #21 (June 1965) - art by Nick Cardy

I'll try to get a post in later today...otherwise, I'll see you folks tomorrow.

In the meantime, you can read more about the Fisherman in this overview of Aquaman #21, or in the Comic Treadmill's look at a 1976 appearance.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Kid Chris Versus Dan Didio! 

My man on the scene, former employee Kid Chris, called me from the Wizard World convention in Los Angeles yesterday to inform me he was going to have a chance to speak to DC Comics bigwig Dan Didio, and if I had any questions for him.

Well, even though I already knew the answer (from this WonderCon panel I noted a few days back), I asked the Kid to inquire into Swamp Thing's return to the regular DC Universe. I figured, hey, what the heck, let's put into Didio's head the idea that people across the country are clamoring for a non-Vertigoized Swamp Thing. But Kid Chris informed me that had already been asked, and that one of the reasons that the Vertigo editors don't want to let Swampy loose is due to his connection to, and occasional appearances in, the Hellblazer comic. Which is strange, since I don't think Swamp Thing had even been in Hellblazer for quite some time.

Anyway, I'll try to puzzle that out later. Since that question was out, I asked Kid Chris to confront Didio about the possibility of Sugar & Spike reprints (I believe I specified "Archives," as in the fifty-dollar hardcovers, even though I'll take darn near anything at this point). When the Kid called back, he said the answer was "not anytime soon," which made me sad.


In other news:

A reminder to you folks to keep checking what pal JP has to offer for your entertainment. Cool old magazines, Japanese Batman, disturbing animations...let Batfatty please your eyes.

Tom Spurgeon reports that Jay Kennedy, King Features editor-in-chief and writer of one of my favorite classic comic book references The Official Underground and Newave Comix Price Guide, has died. My condolences to his friends and loved ones.

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