mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, March 31, 2007

"Goes around saying 'I am a nutty tutu.'" 

from The Banana Splits #4 (October 1970)

Frankly, I think the Mummyman of Mongolia is genuinely terrifying. Just look at it...is that something you'd want to see late at night, lurching from out of the shadows, its one soulless eye fixed upon you? Not me, brother.

EDIT (4/1): Hello, Boing-Boingers! If you're visiting on April 1st, please note that my site has undergone a temporary redesign to support my April Fools post. This isn't what my site usually looks like, honest!

Friday, March 30, 2007

"Your puny little life has run its course! Now...die!" 

So, what new arrival was Mike most excited about this week, you may be asking?

Chamber of Mystery: Witchcraft, from Olympian Publishing, features 13 stories from pre-Comics Code horror comics, and I do love the pre-code horror, as do all decent, right-thinking people. The stories are in color, and reproduction is mostly good...there is some fuzziness in the images, here and there, but it's only a minor issue, and almost certainly can't be helped given the quality of the printed pages the pages were shot from. The only qualm I have with the book is that it's far too short...these brief, weird, and just downright goofy horror stories go by far too quickly, leaving one wanting for more. However, given that the book is marked "Volume 1," hopefully more volumes will follow. As wonderful as EC Comics' horror titles were, and as thankful as I am for the availability of modern-day reprints for those comics, the horror output of their competitors is woefully underrepresented with recent reprints, so this volume is quite welcome. Perhaps the stories aren't nearly as polished and professional as EC's, but they do have kind of a bizarre "anything goes" charm missing from the slightly more mannered EC formula.

Something else I would have liked in this book is extra editorial content, perhaps with publication, artist, and other historical information about these stories and the comics they come from, but perhaps I'm a bit spoiled by the precedent set by New England Comics' Tales Too Terrible to Tell. The lack of this material, however, doesn't diminish the fun. Some additional amusing touches include the cover image being shot from an actual, "distressed" cover of an issue of Witchcraft (complete with a missing piece at the bottom edge of the cover), and a period Charles Atlas ad on the back cover.

Plus, you get to see that Joss Whedon was beaten to the punch by about fifty years:

In other news:

Mark posted this at BeaucoupKevin's forum, and I was so flabbergasted that I had to share it here with you, too:

(original here)

Oh my goodness gracious. I thought that guy I once saw with a bloody-"S" "Death of Superman" tattoo was something else. I clearly had no idea.

If you'd like to see what cover would be tattooed on my back...please, enjoy.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Progressive Ruin presents...the End of Civilization. 

Yes, it's once again that time, when Mike stays up way too late scanning things out of the latest Diamond Previews catalog and makes fun of them. Sweet, gentle fun, with nary a harsh word nor ill feeling in sight. Well, not until I get to the Star Trek cards, at least.

Whip open your April '07 copy of Previews and follow along, yes? Yes! (And look for links to the previous...oh, Good Lord, 25 installments in the sidebar.)

p. 189 - Spider-Man 3 New Goblin Statue:

Okay, it's in silhouette because whatever licensing agreement that's in place is preventing the unveiling of the statues too early, or the paint jobs are still being finalized, or something like that. Doesn't really matter. But, honestly, it totally looks like the Goblin is giving us a full-on porn pose there. Er, so I'm told. "Get a load of this, Spider-Man! Ah HA HA HA!"

p. 197 - Marvel Universe Civil War Nitro Bust:

"Hi, kids! I blew up an entire town filled with civilians, kicking off the interminable Civil War crossover, and I gave Captain Marvel cancer! Relive those fantastic moments with my celebratory statue!" (At least the "exploding crotch" display sort of makes sense with this character.)

p. 197 - Marvel Milestones Magneto Statue:

"Comes with extra interchangeable head!!!"

You get your choice of "that pointy piece that sticks down just over my nose is making me crosseyed" Magneto and the combo "my contacts have clouded over/I really need to make a dental appointment" Magneto.

p. 198 - Marvel Zombies MiniMates:

Okay, it's not a actual solicitation, but an ad for a future solicitation, but I just wanted to say that this series of MiniMates looks, well, kinda cool.

p. 268 - Dynamite Select: Red Sonja Turner Statue - Artist Proof Signed Edition:

Look out for the giant phallic symbol, Red Sonja!

p. 293 - Spent HC:

It's a collection of Joe Matt's Peep Show, and if you're familiar with the man's material, you'll find the title of this collection to be both hilarious and just slightly nauseating.

For those of you who don't know his work, rest assured that Joe Matt shoots off a big load of laughs on each and every page. You gotta hand it to him.

Why, yes, those were masturbation jokes! Thanks for noticing!

p. 317 - Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Space Between #6:

This isn't a comment about the comic being solicited, but rather a blurb inserted into the accompanying image:

Hmmm..."Original Series Year Four?" Seems that someone saw how well Buffy Season 8 was received and thought that particular strategy might boost the Trek comic license as well. Certainly couldn't hurt, since the Next Generation comic is currently selling (at least for us) like Dixie Chicks albums at a gun show. (I'm selling one copy to someone who just gets all Trek comics on her comic saver list at the shop.)

p. 415 - Dalekmania 2008 Wall Calendar:

Don't worry, Whovians, I'm not singling out the Dalek calendar for abuse...I just wanted to point out that the last thing I really want to think about in March is calendars for NEXT YEAR.

But, honestly...a calendar full of pictures of Daleks kinda is at the crossroads of "cool" and "downright peculiar."

p. 436 - The "Quotable" Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Trading Cards & Album:

"There's an old saying: fortune favors the bold." - Captain Benjamin Sisko

"I'm a doctor, not a botanist." - Dr. Julian Bashir

"If only there were some way we could resell the same old stills and promo shots to our dwindling fan base." - Whoever is in charge of Star Trek now

And, hold on a second...one of the featured quotes is a character quoting someone else?

p. 441 - Countdown: Jimmy Olsen t-shirt:

Normally, I'm not a big fan of the insular fannish t-shirt, but "JIMMY OLSEN MUST DIE" is enough of a bizarre non sequitur that it would probably amuse folks who have no idea what Countdown is, or even only know Olsen from his various video incarnations. ("Hey, why does Jimmy Olsen have red hair and freckles? He doesn't look like that in the movies!")

p. 447 - Caution: Reanimated Corpse t-shirt:

I've encountered too many comic book store and game store clerks for whom this shirt would simply be redundant.

p. 463 - A Charlie Brown Christmas Plush Puppets:

"...These replicas of your favorite characters from the animated classic cartoon dance like puppets when you bush [sic] the button in their bases."

And yes, the puppets include the world's saddest Christmas tree. Or, as it is officially known, and indicated on the puppet's base: "Pathetic Tree." Fantastic.

And I suppose there's a joke somewhere in the catalog's typo of "bush" for "push," and the presence of the Pathetic Tree, but I'll let you smart folks make up your own.

p. 486 - She-Dragon Variant Statue:

Remember what I said, at the end of the previous End of Civilization post, about how the neighbors would most likely react to seeing that Marvel Zombies statue?

Yeah, that goes for the topless green mohawked woman, too.

p. 524 - Playing Card Throwing Stars:

Since these are under the category of "Fantasy Cutlery," I'm assuming that those are indeed sharp, bladed edges on those "playing cards." Just what you need to give your Gambit costume that final, fatal touch.

p. 528 - Snakes on a Plane Talking Pens:

Why, hello, several months ago! Too bad you weren't offered to us then, when they might have sold!

But, then again, they do feature the voice of Samuel L. Jackson, which, as entertainment features go, is reasonably timeless. Oh, what to do, what to do....

p. 528 - Star Wars Super Deformed Plushies:

Okay, first...isn't Yoda already "super-deformed?" And second...I think that Darth Vader doll is giving us a preview of the inevitable "Star Wars Babies" license that pal Dorian warned us all about long ago. And, um, should Space Hitler really look all that cute and huggable?

p. 538 - Transformers Monopoly:

I hate this. No reason, it's completely irrational of me, but I hate this item. I hate that it even exists. I hate that someone even thought to combine these two things into this unholy amalgam.

Well, here, let me give it a chance and at least look at the product description:

"Transformers Monopoly is the first and only game that allows you to buy, sell, and trade the planets, bases, locations, and transports in the race for Energon Cubes and Anti-Matter in order to own and control the Transformers universe!"

Hmmm...nope, I still hate it. Sorry, Transformers and/or Monopoly fans...I'm just going to have to be unreasonable about this.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Just a reminder. 

This comic

is now 20 years old.

I'm only reminded of this because the Mephisto action figure came out today, and the packaging prominently features the above cover.

This is making me feel old, for some reason.

I didn't mean to go on this long about the Cap #25 reprint. 

So let's see what happens: our orders for the second printing of Captain America #25 come in today, and now that the general non-comic-reading public has pretty much forgotten about the "death," I'm sort of interested to see how these reprints are going to sell to the regular funnybook-fan clientele.

There's always that percentage of the customer base that'll buy variant covers, since this second printing will feature a new image (or at least a differently-colored one...I don't remember which, and don't really feel like looking it up at the moment, since I'll find out in a few hours anyway when I break down our shipment).

Then there's the percentage who won't be interested in the second printing, because it "won't be worth as much."

Then there's the percentage who will be especially interested in buying the second printings, because they're presumably "rarer" than the first printing...scarcer supply meaning higher potential price increase, supposedly. Though I wonder what the print run was on the reprint of #25...if folks ordered it while that brief period of panic buying was underway, it's possible that the print run may be fairly close to that of the first print. I know that we ordered fairly large numbers on the reprint, at first...in comparison, when the Death of Superman issue went into second, third, and even fourth printings, we still had plenty of demand for any printing of the comic. However, when order adjustment time came for the Cap #25 reprint, it was obvious that the huge demand by the general pubic had dwindled to nothing, and we cut our orders down a bit to take that into account.

Oh, and then there's the percentage of folks who just plain want to read the comic, and couldn't give a rat's tuckus what printing the comic is. I imagine there might be a few people like this out there somewhere.

Of course, the real trick is seeing what sales are going to be like on Captain America #26 and up, as well as the "Fallen Son" tie-ins. Given that the general public is no longer interested, and that even a large portion of them are now convinced that Captain America is no longer being published (as per the many requests we received for "the last Captain America"), any increase in sales is going to come from people who are already comic book readers. And that's going to depend on them freeing up extra cash in their comic budgets, and just how much "big comic event fatigue" they're experiencing, and so on.


I know this is all painfully obvious stuff, but sometimes I just need to get it out of my system. Oh, if only I had some kind of, I don't know, "blog" that would allow me to write about such things.

In other news:

I'd better mention the interview with John Totleben about his Swamp Thing work or my Swamp Thing Fan Club card is going to get taken away.


Nerd rockers Ookla the Mok have new versions of a couple old songs on their Myspace page (one new recording, one new remixing). Have I told you that I love this band? I love this band.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Just another manic Monday tricky Tuesday. 

Well, for those of you keeping up with STERLING BACK WATCH 2007, you'll be pleased to know that, aside from some minor soreness, I seem to be recovering quite nicely from my injury and now I'm able to do things like sit, walk, put on socks in less than, oh, say, ten minutes' time...things like that.

Some minor weblog business: I finally got around to having some kind of indicator for newly-added links in the sidebar. I thought about doing what pal Dorian did, and just having a separate "Latest Links" section, but I think coloring the new links red is...well, probably a bit obnoxious, but they certainly stand out, don't they? I may have to reconsider the color.

Plus, I'm going to plug them here, too: first we have Bahlactus, as immortalized in The Rack; customer Weshoyot, who's been doing some funnybook work for Archaic Comics, among others (and drew a way cool Hellboy sketch for Employee Aaron); and Siskoid's Blog of Geekery, which I plugged a few days ago, and has now moved on to reviewing Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. Right on.

Another new link in that sidebar is to BeaucoupKevin's new forum. Yes, Kevin Church is moderating a new comics forum, the poor, poor bastard. He's a mean drunk, and he'll rule this forum with an iron fist (the hand not holding the shot glass), so that gave me the confidence to register. Because, you know, I just don't get to talk about comics enough.

So people do like the Pizzazz judging by reaction to my post from Saturday. I bought the mag off the newsstands...actually, at the local grocery store...for quite a while before breaking down and springing for the subscription. However, like commenter Mike, I subscribed just in time for the mag to get cancelled, and I was given the option to have the rest of the sub filled with another Marvel comic (Amazing Spider-Man in my case: issues 197-205, if I recall correctly).

I caught on to Pizzazz very early on, but I don't remember ever seeing any of the "Dream Dimension" articles promised in the subscription ad. It's possible they were in issues prior to my discovering the magazine, or I just don't recall them, but like most of the other commenters, I would love to have seen them. It'd be like a proto-Roarin' Rick's Rare Bit Fiends, or, more accurately, a proto-Slow Wave. I'm picturing Sal Buscema drawing a reader-submitted dream strip about, say, missing a certain class for most of the school year, and finally showing up on the day of the final. Or a John Romita-drawn dream of the reader falling naked into school with his mother, while eating a banana. That sort of thing.

I do like the use of the phrases "Dynamite comics!" and Mad humor!" in that subscription ad...not so subtle references to competing magazines, I'm thinking. I can verify, however, that the magazines were indeed "mailed flat!" At least, until they were rolled up and shoved into our mailbox.

Alas, I no longer have any of my copies in the Vast Mikester Comic Archives, having long since read my copies to pieces. And even my place of employment is bereft of Pizzazz-ery. Which is probably just as well...I loved these mags as a kid, and I just as soon would keep those fond memories rather than look at them today and think "Wow...I actually liked this?"

However, I was able to find this scan online, featuring what may very well be one of my favorite magazine cover gags of all time:

This always, always, gets a laugh out of me. The sheer audacity....

So long, Marshall.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Boy, I hate updating the site this late on a Monday. 

Thanks to everyone for the comments and especially all the e-mail I received over the last day. I really appreciate it. My back is feeling much better today, but I'm still going to need to take it easy and not aggravate the injury again.

In the meantime, a few store notes:

I just noticed we went from having about 70 copies of Amazing Spider-Man #252 (the first appearance of Spidey's black costume) in our backstock, to having NO copies of #252. We sold them all over about a month's time.

Thank you, Spider-Man 3!


The side effect of the new Free Comic Book Day promo materials that say "1st Saturday in May" is that customers look at them and say "Oh, hey, Free Comic Book Day...May 1st!" (and not "May 5th" which is what it says along the bottom of the shirts, pins, etc.).


The one time Marvel doesn't immediately crank out a collection for a recently or nearly completed storyline is also the one time I'm actually experiencing demand for a trade paperback from Marvel. In this case, for Planet Hulk. There's a hardcover collection of the whole series coming, but I probably could have sold tons of a paperback reprinting, say, the first half of the storyline, which could have driven higher sales on later issues of "Planet Hulk."

A forty dollar hardcover reprinting the whole shebang may be a good deal, and a handsome package, but given how past Marvel hardcovers of this type have sold, I'm thinking this may not be what our customers want. I expect to hear a lot of "I'll wait for the paperback, thanks."


Sunday, March 25, 2007

No post today. 

A week or so ago, I managed to injure my back, and I was well on the way to getting better when I managed to do something stupid and set myself back to square one.

Thus, sitting at the computotron and typing is not a good idea at the moment. I am feeling better than I was yesterday, so hopefully I'll be back to normal soon and able to provide real content again, rather than just posts like this and, um, a YouTube-riffic post I may be doing tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, and I'll talk to you folks (and answer your e-mails!) again soon.

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