mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Mickey is a fighter...not a coward clown." 

Here's something we've had at the shop for a while...a copy of the Dell Giant Silly Symphonies #6 (1956), with what appears to be some kind of thesis proposal or essay notes or something written on the cover.

Here's a closer look at the writing:

It reads as follows:

"The humor of Mickey Mouse is in his 'out-of-place' bravery and his fighting which is 'out-of-place' since he is so small in comparison to his rival that he is 'unfit' for the task he is chosen to do. Mickey is a fighter [illegible] not a coward clown."

Here's the illegible word...at least, I can't make it out. Maybe someone out there will have better luck:

The ironic part about this? Dell Giants have puzzle or coloring pages that are, more often than not, found today with pencil or crayon markings. The puzzle pages in this particular book are clean.

EDIT: General consensus in the comments section is that the word I couldn't read is also "clown." I thought maybe that's what it was at first, since it seems to fit, but wasn't sure...though the more I look at that scan, the more it looks like it could be a very sloppily written "clown."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Old friends and miscellaneous Marvel stuff. 

  • Well, well, well...look who's come crawling back to the comicsweblogosphere. Mr. Fancy-Pants College Graduate, what with his monocle and his shiny shoes, that's who.

    Ah, just yankin' his chain a bit. Everyone go say hi to pal Ian and encourage him in his back-to-blogging endeavors.

  • I noted this in my little Twitter doodad yesterday, but one of Marvel's licensed property books, Anita Blake, is getting its own Marvel Zombie variant cover. I figured all of the Marvel Universe books were due for a zombie variant, but I guess the non-Marvel U. titles are fair game as well. So, look for your Marvel Illustrated: Man in the Iron Mask zombie variant cover, coming soon! It's what Alexander Dumas would have wanted.

    Good thing Marvel doesn't do their Star Comics line anymore. Or, maybe, "too bad" -- picture a Top Dog zombie variant, with Top Zombie gnawing at Joey's skull, trying to get to the delicious, delicious brains within. How would that not be great?

  • In other Marvel news, temporary replacement for Captain America gets equally temporary new costume, which I'm guessing will be given to some "opposite number/evil twin"-type villain when Steve Rogers comes back, assuming that costume is kept around at all.

    Anyway, as shiny and obnoxious as that new costume is, it's still better than this one:

  • From this week's Punisher #51...Punisher's got Popeye arms:


Thursday, October 11, 2007

How to drive your Employee Jeff crazy. 

1. Pull out a copy of Transformers: Beast Wars (sample shown here):

2. Show it to any Employee Jeff that happens to be available.

3. Say, dramatically, perhaps even with the back of your hand to your forehead, "Oh, these wars are sooooo beastly...!"

4. Repeat approximately one million times.

WARNING: If you have an Employee Aaron, he will find this hysterically funny, no matter how many times you do it.

Special guest star: Bully. 

My favorite cover gag of the week, from Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #24, features this blurb:

...on a comic that is:

"If you read only one comic this decade, make sure it's the second part of a four-part story! Excelsior, true believers!"

The mighty Bully, the cute little stuffed bull, brought to my attention this AP story about the Detective Comics #27 (first Batman, doncha know) that was found in someone's attic.

Leaving aside the fact that, once again, the article leads off with a reference to a forty-year-old TV show (I love the original Batman TV series, but for God's sake, does the writer of this article think he's being clever, that it hasn't been done a million times before?), it had me wondering if we're going to see a new wave of folks searching their homes for old comics and potential fortunes.

I've said in the past that, over the years, I've had many, many people claim to have "the original Superman" or "the first Batman" or something equivalent, and I've never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever seen any of these alleged books come into the store. That it's recently happened once for someone out there doesn't make me think it's any more likely that someone will just pop in with an Action Comics #1.

It becomes readily apparent after a minute or two of conversation that most people who make this claim, or some are just talking about bringing in some comics to sell, don't know the first thing about comic books. Now, I'm not saying that in some haughty, "oh, the little people just don't understand the intricacies of our beloved hobby" Comic Book Guy voice. It's simply that the ins and outs of the hobby is outside most folks' experience, and not any priority for them as their interests lie elsewhere. And that's fine. It's not like I can walk into, say, a diving store and immediately know all the important details about diving. It's just not my thing, and I shouldn't be expected to know the fine points of that endeavor.

But over the years, I've noticed several aspects of the funnybook collecting pastime that non-comics people don't recognize or understand. These are among the reasons why I'm tad skeptical when someone tells me about the valuable comics they have at home:

1. They can't tell what year a comic was published (the older they say the comic is, the more recent it'll turn out to be...though sometimes, if they're the original owners and bought the comics as a kid, a general timeframe can be pinned down).

2. They can't tell what issue number a comic is. (a "3 DEC" in a box in the corner of the cover is invariably interpreted as a date).

3. They can't tell what condition a comic book is in (not "Very Good Minus" or "Fair to Good" type conditions, but "brand new" or "near mint to excellent" -- which the comic is always described as -- versus "run over by the family station wagon" -- which it usually is).

4. They don't know what the title of the comic book is.

5. They don't know the character that actually appears in the comic. (Even gimmes like "Superman" and "Spider-Man," which you'd think would be instantly recognizable by everyone on the planet, are victims of this...promised 1950s Superman collections have turned out to be 1970s Marvel Tales, for example).

6. They don't understand that, unless they're Whitman 3-packs or certain '80s or '90s comics, their old comics aren't in "their original bags," and the bags in question, being comprised of this plastic, aren't a guarantee of absolute protection against damage (see my "run over by the family station wagon" example earlier).

And before anyone accuses me (again) of dismissing these people just because they don't know what it is they have, I do put an effort into trying to determine, at least in general, what books are in their collection. And I try to correct some of their incorrect assumptions about their comics...in a friendly and gentle manner, not all huffy and dogmatic like I am here. I also try to remain enthusiastic, and encourage them to bring their comics in. After all, you never know what it is they'll actually have. There could be some good stuff in there!

And if they say they have "the first Batman" or whatever, usually a size comparison at the shop will reveal that it's the treasury-sized reprint edition from the '70s ("is it the size of this comic, or this comic?").

Maybe, just maybe, someone in our area has a Superman #1 or a Detective #27, and perhaps that person will bring it into our shop and yea, upon that day there will be great rejoicing. But I'm not holding my breath.

Sorry, Bully:

Speaking of Marvel's current O.D.ing on zombie covers...did anyone have a moment, looking at the "regular" cover and the "zombie" cover for the new issue of Wolverine, where they couldn't tell which was which?

Having Marvel Zombie cover artist Art Suydam on the regular cover doesn't help matters any.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mike's New Comics Day Lunchtime Update 3002. 

1. I never, ever want to see another zombie cover as long as I live. DARN YOU, MARVEL COMICS!

2. Employee Aaron: "So, when is Simon Dark going to meet Batman?

Me: "Oh, man, is this another 'evil mime' comic?"

3. Tom Spurgeon interviews Larry Marder...more Tales of the Beanworld is forthcoming!

And I had no idea Mr. Marder had a weblog. How'd I miss that?

"...One bad night at taco bell and supes is bringing the thunder." 

I've already had a few submissions to the "Make Mike a New Logo Banner Because He's Too Lazy to Do It Himself" thing, and there are some good'uns coming in. If you've got a good idea and some spare time, please feel free to send one in. Remember: 825 by 100 pixels, "mike sterling's progressive ruin" (all lower case) in monospaced Courier. A couple folks have sent in banners that are quite a bit smaller...but I'll see if I can't find some kind of use for those, too!

Again, thank you...I'm having a lot of fun seeing what you folks come up with, and it's actually quite touching that people are willing to take valuable time to contribute. I can't wait to share some of these contributions here on the site.

Diesel Sweeties features a cameo by a certain muck-encrusted mockery of a man in a recent installment of the strip's print edition. Mr. R. Stevens was kind enough to send me a sneak peak of the cameo a month or so ago, but it's nice to see it unleashed upon the world at large!

Matt from Alert Nerd saw this Newsarama thread, and, of course, immediately thought of me and sent it my way.

The topic at hand?

"'Superman doesn't poo'"

"Originally Posted by PatrickG
Superman doesn't get dirty or sweat, secrete waste products or mucus.

"This is the second time I've heard this claim in about a week or so, and I'm at a loss as to where it comes from. I could likely find plenty of pictures of him dirty and/or sweating. But has anyone got any reference for this whole 'Superman doesn't need to go to the bathroom' thing?

"Because I think this could easily get more funny than Man of Steel Woman of Kleenex."

Or gross, if you think about it. And you really probably shouldn't. Anyway, let's see what folks have to say:

"I seem to recall that Mark Schultz once said in Wizard that one of the things he most wanted to do was make Superman able to sweat or urinate. Apparently, he wrote a scene that had Superman sweating and editorial wrote back that Superman doesn't sweat."

"Under the yellow sun, his digestive system completely breaks down the food (when he chooses to eat), and leaves no waste. Under a red sun, though, I'm sure he could and would do all the same stuff that we have to do."

"So all those times that Supes was dosed in Red Sun radiation, I bet he had to drop a deuce like no one's business, huh?"

"wait......then why does he have a butt?..seems like a waste of space....he should just remove it."

"LOL! This thread is classic! What next? Whats an Amazon/WW's poo like?"

"Maybe he saves all of them somewhere in space, and will use them to make a new Krypton in the future :P"

"A superman who doesn't piss shit or fart or sweat is incapable, in my opinion, of truly understanding what it's like to be a human being. He doesn't think his shit stinks, because...he produces none.

"Humans have to deal with a lotta shit. How can you trust a hero that never needs to take a dump?"

"This explains why he wears his underwear outside his pants, he doesn't know what they are for."

This person explains the Secret Origin of the Fortress of Solitude:

"...no damned conventional toilet could handle that kind if turd.


"i'm just betting that if every muscle in his body is super, then his colon must be one of the most powerfull things on earth. that dude farts and people think billy batson must be in the area summoning shazam. 'cause one bad night at taco bell and supes is bringing the thunder . he would need somewhere private where he could 'cut one' and not have people thinking that an apocolyptic thunderstorm in heading in their direction.

"and just to show one point that the fortress of solitude os just one super sized kryptonian strength crapper.

"it's white
it's sterile
it's cold

"it's the most powerfull turd house in the universe."

This person has the right idea:

"Also, I think from a purely aesthetic point of view, it would be kind of useless to mention or show a character in a comic book taking a dump.

"Honestly, can anyone name a scene where Lois is taking one, or even peeing? And she's human.
"why the hell am I even writing about this??????????????????????????"

And someone warms my heart by bringing up this story:

"I recall that he did sweat in Alan Moore's 'The Jungle Line', wherein an alien fungus/virus infected his system, dulling out his powers and bringing on a fever that would have resulted in death...if not for the Swamp Thing."

Thanks, Matt, for pointing this out to me...I think.

So lately I've been rereading my old Turok Son of Stone comics, and, really, if you can come up with a High Concept Comic that appeals more to kids than "Indians Fighting Dinosaurs," I'd like to see it.

The "lost valley" Turok and Andar are stuck in is actually a giant collapsed cavern somewhere in New Mexico, the nature of which is explained in this text piece that appeared in early issues, as well as the giant-sized Turok special from '61:

This is one huge valley (or "valleys"), judging by how much traveling and how many bodies of water, different tribes, etc., are present there. The Valiant Comics revamp of the character reveals that Turok was actually in another dimension or time pocket or some darn thing, which is as good an explanation as any.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

In which Mike tries to get you to do something for him for free, and then asks you to buy stuff through his Amazon links to boot, the big jerk. 

I've been trying to come up with a new title banner for the site, there...not that I don't love the Nancy and Sluggo, but I try to cycle through the banners every once in a while since...well, I don't actually own those characters an' all. Anyway, I've discussed this before, so click that link if you want to read me going on and on about it.

However, 1) I never seem to make the time to cook up a new banner for myself, and 2) I haven't had any really good ideas for one, anyway. So, if any of you enterprising folks out there have a few spare minutes, a working graphics program, and a desire to lend a hand to a complete stranger on the internet simply because he asked, then please, feel free to slap together a banner, 825 by 100 pixels, that incorporates the title "mike sterling's progressive ruin" (all lower-case) in the monospaced Courier font, and send it to mikester (at) progressiveruin dot com.

And, since someone's going to ask: no, you don't have to use Nancy and Sluggo (in fact, um, you probably shouldn't, since I've been using them there for the last few months), and no, you don't have to use Swamp Thing...but I certainly wouldn't mind it.

This is a tad presumptuous of me, I realize, but hey, you never know...someone out there might be itching to provide me with a swell banner, and now is that person's chance! It's not a contest or anything...there's no deadline, no Grand Prize (though I'll see if I can't send something to contributors), but if I use your logo, at the very least you'll get a prominent "LOGO BANNER BY ________" link somewhere on my page, if you'd like.

I reserve the right to not use banners for any reason (sorry, Sims, that means no Tarot logo), and please don't get mad at me if I don't use your banner. Nothing personal. I still like you. We can, you know, still be friends, we'll just be seeing other people, that's all. It's not you, it's me.

There's also so guarantee of how long I'll use your banner. Maybe, eventually, if I get enough different banners, I can have them randomly come up whenever you load my page! That'll make three different things that randomly load on my site with each visit! That won't drive anyone crazy at all!

In other news:
  • Blake Bell recently posted an MP3 of Gary Groth's 1992 interview with Todd McFarlane for the Comics Journal. Really, if you haven't read the interview (and it's a doozy...I remember thinking at the time "this is one of the most powerful people in the comics industry?"), do yourself a favor, set aside an hour, and give this a listen. You'll be hornswoggled.

    Don't listen at work, though, as Mr. McFarlane has quite the salty tongue.

  • Chris Karath presents more photos of recent action figure acquisitions, including the Marvel Zombies Spidey and Cap, as well as the Justice Armored Green Lantern.

  • MAN-THING VERSUS BEAR. Sounds dirtier than it is.

  • A Terry and the Pirates comic from the 1940s predicts Stan Lee's future.

  • Hey, Fengi has a point...if Funky Winkerbean is jumping ten years ahead following the death of Lisa storyline (which takes place in present day)...that means the comic will now be taking place in the far-flung FUTURE! Flying cars, robot maids, Martians, the works! Okay, maybe not, but it still seems a little weird.

    Also, you should click that first link to enjoy Fengi's own Lovecraftian vision of the strip's future.

  • Bitterandrew presents a rather extreme punishment, Archie-Comics-horror-style. Sure, the guy was a jerk, but c'mon.

  • You should always be reading The Horror Blog, but you especially should be reading it during Halloween Month.

  • H at the Comic Treadmill has finishing his indexing of his Brave and the Bold collection, and is marking the occasion with lists of his favorite and least favorite stories and covers, noting which characters were best served and most poorly served by the series, and several other categories. Fun reading!

  • Hey, if you're a Mystery Science Theatre fan, like I know I am, then you'll want to know that the latest Film Crew DVD, The Giant of Pantheon, is out today.


    Also, I've put another classic film in my sidebar for your shopping convenience.

    And I don't get one red cent for this, but starting at some point today, the same MST3K vets who produce the Film Crew DVDs will be offering their "Rifftrax" commentary track for the first Spider-Man movie. Only $3.99...slap the file onto your MP3 player, throw the DVD into your player, and let the comedy begin.

  • Comics blogging mainstay Laura has been having some serious vehicular issues lately, and if you'd like to help out, please consider making a donation via Amazon or PayPal.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Secret Life of Sluggo... 

...is discovered:

Nancy confronts Sluggo directly about his lifestyle:

Sluggo is comfortable with it, but Nancy's own experimentation does not sit well with her:


images from Tip Top Comics #215-6 (1959)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

"Love the fudgy icing!!!!" 

Reaction to flying through air in elevator - bored disinterest:

Reaction to Hostess® Cup Cakes - Excitement!!! and lots!!! of exclamation!!! points:

See the full ad here.

A follow-up to my post about the Daily Planet item: all of the photos have been identified. I was right about Jenette Kahn and Karen Berger, and the rest have been I.D.ed in the comments section. The Planet's editor...not Perry White, but Mark Waid his own self...popped up to identify a couple, which was very nice of him.

And my statement about not knowing where Funky Flashman has appeared recently...Steve reminds me that Funky popped up in the acclaimed Dr. 13: Architecture and Mortality story, which I'm embarrassed I forgot. And there was a cameo by Funky in Paul Di Filippo and Jerry Ordway's entertaining Top Ten sequel.

In another comment to that post was a mention of Gerard Jones' fanboy parody "Sidney Mellon," as the Mellon character had a column in the Daily Planet paper.

We had Gerard Jones at the store many years ago for a signing, and I had him autograph three comics for me...Green Lantern: Mosaic #1 (still one of my favorite series), Tommy and the Monsters #1, and the Sidney Mellon-scripted Thunderskull! -- Mellon's constantly forthcoming "graphic masterpiece" that he'd continually discuss in his various fan commentaries in the 'zines of the time. Until it was actually published, that is, at which point he would continually encourage everyone to go out and buy it.

Here's the signature on my copy:

In case you can't make it out, it says next to his signature "coauthor of the introduction." And the comic is just as overblown and fanboyish and "Mary Sue"-ish and absolutely fantastic as you'd imagine.

That is, if you can imagine, if you were lucky enough to have encountered Sidney in his prime. If not, go seek out some of his columns in late '80s Amazing Heroes...big laffs, guaranteed. That people got so worked up over him at the time seems stunning to me...he was clearly a parody, and that he raked Gerard Jones over the coals in numerous columns was a big clue that Jones was somehow involved. But, as "Suedenim" mentions in my comments, he gained the ire of a few folks...I'm realize some of them were just playing along, but I suspect more than a few weren't.

I wish Sidney Mellon would come back. He'd fit right in with online fandom, I think.

A couple links for you:

A link recently sent to me: giraffes in art history...site is in German, but giraffe art surely transcends the barrier of language. Unless you know German, in which case you're all set.

Dara Naraghi of Ferret Press has a new graphic novel coming out called Lifelike. It's a collection of 11 short "slice of life" stories, all written by Naraghi and illustrated by artists of many lands. A generously sizable preview may be seen at the official site.

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