mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Please enjoy the velvety touch of Donny Osmond. 

ad from Flash #272 (April 1979)

"Fan Fiction is an Internet site...." 

"Key Character in Harry Potter is Gay"

"One of the main male characters, a master wizard and headmaster of the book's witchcraft school, known as Albus Dumbledore, was declared by author J.K. Rowling to be gay."


"She then noted that Dumbledore's love was his 'great tragedy,' and then chuckled, 'Oh my god, the Fan Fiction.'

"Fan Fiction is an Internet site where fans can speculate, converse and write on books, movies, shows, etc.

"One branch of the site is dedicated to Harry Potter, and explicit scenes with Dumbledore already appear there."

(via Metafilter)

Friday, October 19, 2007


  • Death of the New Gods #1 sold remarkably well, selling through all our copies by Thursday afternoon. I haven't been looking 'round the internet at reactions to the series, but I imagine folks aren't responding well to Off-Model Jimmy Olsen:


    And is this really what Jimmy's Superman Signal Watch looks like? C'mon:

    Actually, none of this bothers me...well, maybe the freckles thing...as I'm just glad we've got Jim Starlin writing and drawing the New Gods. If I can't have Kirby, and I can't have Simonson, this'll do. It's a little odd, in that off-kilter Starlin manner, but entertaining.

    Oh, and the "retailer incentive" variant covers we received all have heavy dirt scuffs along the spine. Swell.

  • Superman: Bottle City of Kandor trade paperback - cover by DC Direct merchandise, apparently. Soon as Employee Aaron saw this cover, he pointed it out to me and said "Is...is that an action figure in the background?" And, yea, verily it was.

    Cover aside, this is another great collection of Silver Age 'n' '70s Superman weirdness, culminating in the story with one of the greatest titles for a Superman story ever: "Let My People Grow!"

    And, if I may self-link, I addressed not long ago the questions about Kandor that DC Comics DARE NOT ANSWER.

  • Clean Cartoonists, Dirty Drawings was a hoot to flip through. Some of the illustrations came as no surprise...yeah, Wally Wood drew all kinds of filth (and his "Disneyland Memorial Orgy" is included) and Steve Ditko's fetish stuff is represented, but Superman co-creator Joe Shuster? Charles Schulz? And Jack Kirby? Though Kirby's pages are more "upsetting" than "dirty," like walking in on your grandfather while he's putting on his ballgag.

    There is a generous preview of the book on the official site allowing you to flip through a large number of the pages at reduced size.

    Oh, and Not Safe for Work, in case you couldn't guess.

  • Archaic #10 - actually came in last week, but we got in a reorder because it was drawn by one of our customers, Weshoyot, and we all like Weshoyot.

  • Marvel Zombies 2 #1 - I've no beef with the Marvel Zombies comic in and of itself. That's fine...it's dark-humored and fairly clever. I'm just hoping that Marvel's usual business practice of "find something popular and drive it into the ground as quickly as possible" with their onslaught of "zombie variant covers" hasn't hurt the sales potential of this title. "Giving the customer what they want until they're sick of it" rarely works as well as "leave the customer wanting more."

    So far, the comic seems to be selling okay for us. Once you've got the customers buying the first issue, unless things go horribly awry most of them should stick through 'til the end. But Marvel probably shouldn't press its luck with a Marvel Zombies 3, or, God help us, a regular series.

    Joking around the store, we were trying to come up with variant cover ideas for Marvel Zombies 2, playing off the "zombie variants" for the rest of the Marvel Universe. Employee Aaron's idea would be just featuring all the heroes in their normal, non-zombified state. My idea was that they would all be actually dead, slumped to the ground, unmoving. Logo at the top, lots of white space, and then just a pile of superhero bodies and parts of bodies at the bottom.

  • So pal Dorian asked me to order for him a copy of Lio: Happiness Is A Squishy Cephalopod, which was a reprint volume of a comic strip I hadn't heard of.

    It came in this week...I flipped though the book before putting it in Dor's box...and then I placed an order for a copy of my own. What a wonderful and beautifully drawn strip, cheerfully morbid in a way that reminds me a smidgen of Gahan Wilson. And, like most comic strips that commit the crime of not being blandly unamusing, it has its share of humorless detractors who proclaim it unfit for children.

    Here, have a handy Amazon link:

    Buy two! Buy a dozen! Give 'em away for Halloween!

  • Pretty much all the posters we get nowadays have some pixelation, but you have to get your nose pretty close to the surface of the paper to notice. For example, if you look at the straight red line in the background of this Black Canary poster (in person, not just in the scan at the link), you can see what I'm talking about. But again, like I said, you've got to get pretty close to notice.

    But on this Batman poster, the pixelation is quite a bit more noticeable. This was the cover of issue #655, and I don't think it was quite meant to be blown up to this size. If you see it in person, get a look at the bats, and at Andy Kubert's signature. You don't have to get too close to see the pixels, so hang this sucker high on the wall.

    Perhaps I exaggerate slightly, and it's not really that distracting on the Batman poster. It's just, compared to the others, the image in this Batman poster seemed less suited to being blown up to poster size.

    A side note: Employee Aaron noted that, if you didn't know who Black Canary was, the poster makes her look like a crazed killer, with the blood of her victims splattered around her.

  • That the cover of the Army @ Love trade paperback is covered with pull-quotes from many, many reviews, I found very amusing, and very appropriate, given the nature of the book.

    So buy lots of copies of this book, and of the series itself, so that it'll keep going and I can keep reading it. Thank you.

  • When we cracked open the shipment boxes on Wednesday morning, Employee Jeff grabbed the Transformers: Beast Wars comics and wouldn't let me see them. I can't imagine why.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The many faces of Pink Batman. 











Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Found at the shop. 

Marvel Comics promotional card (1994)

I don't really know anything about this card or how it was distributed. I suspect it may have been intended as a school giveaway, but that's just a guess. If anyone has any details, please feel free to let me know.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blogging about blog banners is a sin. 

Starting today, I'm going to begin cycling through the various title banners that have been generously submitted by you, the loyal Progressive Ruin readers. I'm going to swap 'em out every few days, so remember to refresh that browser cache of my site every once in a while.

If you'd still like to submit a banner for future use, the details are, again, as follows:

  • 825 by 100 pixels, "mike sterling's progressive ruin" all in lowercase, monospaced Courier font - when completed, send as an attachment to mikester (at) progressiveruin (dot) com.

  • No guarantee that your banner will be used, or for how long if it is used. Nothing personal, and I do appreciate every submission.

  • If I use your submission during this initial "cycling through the banners" period, a credit (including a link to your site, if applicable) will appear at the top of my sidebar. Should I decide to use one of the banners on a more permanent basis, a link will still be present, but probably will be moved to underneath my personal info.

  • I may also eventually create a randomized logo banner feature, causing a new one to load with each visit, in which case a separate page featuring all the used logos, with credits, will be created.

  • This is not a contest; there is no deadline. So long as I have an active website, and barring unforeseen circumstances and/or a change of heart, I will continue accepting banner submissions.

Again, thank you to you folks for your contributions. They've all been a lot of fun, and I truly am grateful for your time and effort.

Plus, a lot of you seem to think I'm some kind of Swamp Thing fan. I have no idea from where you got that impression.


Haven't done a "let's look at DC's solicitations" post in a while, but this time around I found a few items I wanted to comment upon:
  • Finally, finally being released is the Teen Titans story by Bob Haney, Jay Stephens and Mike Allred (as Teen Titans: The Lost Annual), delayed for...well, quite a while, actually. I have a desktop wallpaper featuring Stephen's pencils for the story on my computer, and the file is dated from August of '03.

    And sure enough, some quick Googling turned up this 2003 post from Stephens on the Mike Allred message board about the cancellation (that I originally saw on an old Newsarama posting that I can't get to load at the moment):

    "They say the story, written by original Titans CREATOR, Bob Haney, is simply 'too weird' and contradicts the current, highly successful, efforts of the new Titans monthly. In fact, they actually argued that the timing was bad, and that releasing the comic when the Titans weren't so popular would be a better idea. This is the first time I've heard the argument that a tie-in to a hit project is uncommercial."

    Whatever the reason for it finally being unleashed (probably something to do with the Teen Titans Year One mini), I'm just glad it is. Some lost Haney craziness is most welcome, especially if the powers that be thought it was "too weird." That's like a badge of honor...can't wait to see it. And what I've seen of Stephen's pencils look wonderful, so this is going to be one fun and good-looking package.

    Here's the Nick Cardy cover:

  • Batman #673 - For some reason, this sentence lodged itself in my head:

    "This special flashback tale also revisits Batman's life-changing Thogal ritual in the caves of Nanda Parbat!"



    This makes for a good personal mantra. Repeat that sentence to yourself in times of need.

  • Legion of Super-Heroes #38 - Reading this description:

    "Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf and Star Boy's mission on the moon of Triton goes awry as Invisible Kid leads them into a lethal predicament. Meanwhile, Lightning Lad's duties as team leader aren't going any easier as he's forced to sit through a painful tryout session for new Legionnaires."

    ...and knowing that Jim Shooter is responsible fills me with some small measure of hope. It just sounds like an old-fashioned Legion story, so let's just say I'm cautiously optimistic.

  • Okay, The Spirit #14...this part had me sold:

    "Written by Sergio Aragones & Mark Evanier"

    I liked Darwyn Cooke's Spirit stories at first, though I got a little weary of them after a while, for no real good reason I can name. But those two creators have rekindled my interest in the title.

    And this next bit just absolutely clinched it:

    "Art by Mike Ploog"

    Anything that gets me new Ploog funnybook art on a regular basis is a must-buy.

  • Trials of Shazam #11 - Holy frijole, is this comic still not done yet?

  • Batman: The Killing Joke Special Edition HC - Not too thrilled that it's an eighteen buck hardcover, but at least it's available outside of that Alan Moore trade paperback. Not that the Moore book is bad (especially since they've finally fixed the errors), but judging by the number of first printing Killing Joke prestige format comics we've sold lately, there's still demand for just the one story on its own.

    Then again, a new first edition hardcover will likely attract more attention from buyers (and orders from retailers) than reprint #17 of the old prestige format edition.

  • Time Masters TP - I liked this series, and I'm really hoping the coloring is vastly improved. Not that the original colorist was bad or anything, just that the reproduction in the original comics seemed a little shaky.

  • American Virgin #23 - Whoa, final issue? I know it wasn't a huge seller, but it seemed to be doing okay, at least for our shop. Was this a planned ending to the series or was it, um, decided for them?

  • Jack of Fables #19 - They're really really really trying hard to make Babe the Miniature Blue Ox a wacky cult favorite character, aren't they?

  • Batman: The Killing Joke Collector Set -

    The last thing we really need is yet another Batman figure, but that Joker figure is fantastic.

  • Showcase Presents Series 1 Action Figures -

    YES: Finally, a Jonah Hex figure. (Alas, no Hex variant.)

    NO: Please, no more Superman or Hawkman figures.

    MAYBE: Variant "Red Kryptonite" heads for Superman. I don't want more Superman figures, but, but...RED KRYPTONITE HEADS.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I'm very sorry about the Popeye thing. 

Hey, you. Yeah, you. Do you like funnybooks? Do you like funny funnybooks? Do you have even the slightest interest in the history of comics?

Do you have twenty-five bucks?



All his "Dateline:@#$%" strips, all his Fantaco magazines, many fanzine illustrations, and lots, lots more. I don't throw the phrase "Highest Recommendation" around too often, but I'm using it now. This book has my absolutely HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION...Hembeck is one of the comic industry's great comedic treasures, and to have this much of his work in one place is almost too good to be true.

So tell your local retailers that you must have this book. And any retailers that are reading this? Order a few less copies of some of those titles currently warming your shelves, and order some copies of this instead. God will smile favorably upon you for doing so.

(A certain Mr. The Dog and a Mr. Doane have a few words on the subject as well.)

I've had some links from a message board lately to my memories of the '90s comic market crash...so if you're coming here from there...hello! How are you? Some of you may not agree with some of my conclusions, or may not like my observations, but this is how I saw it, and your mileage may vary.

If you want to read more of my '90s crash memories, here are some links:

Turok #1 and Adventures of Superman #500 and their roles in the crash

My readers' contributions as to which comics had a part in the crash

A brief follow-up to release dates of certain '90s titles

The tragedy of Deathmate

I welcome questions re: the market crash, and I answer: 1, 2, 3, 4

And now, a stupid thought I had after dealing with a bunch of copies of Marvel's Champions comic:

I wasn't a reader of that title, so I'm asking...did a scene like this ever happen in the comic?

Angel: "So, hey, Ghost Rider...what's your deal?"

Ghost Rider: "Sold my soul to the devil."

Angel: "Huh...tough break. Anyway, what're we going to do about that Nazi bee-guy?"

Did any of the Champions ever try to get Johnny Blaze out of his satanic contract? You'd think they'd attempt to help out a teammate who was, oh, I don't know, in danger of losing his immortal soul to Old Scratch.

Then again, I suppose the conversation could have gone like this:

Angel: "So what's your deal?"

Ghost Rider: "Sold my soul to the devil."

Angel: "Uh, yeah...that's tough." (THINKING: "Yeah, sure, buddy...I know you're just another closeted mutant.")

So if they think Ghost Rider is just, I don't know, Vanilla Ice-ing them, trying to be all tough and saying he's "from the streets" (or "fueled by Satan"), I can buy Ghost Rider's teammates not going out of their way to help.

But then again, most Marvel heroes tend towards the "credulous" side of the scale...plus the Champions met Zeus face to face in one issue I looked at, so I'd have a hard time believing they wouldn't accept a deal with the devil, too.

So, I don't know...just some random blathering. Don't mind me. 'Course, it's all moot if the Champions did try to help out their flaming skull-headed pal....

More random nuttiness:

Following the odd Popeye-esque arms on the Punisher that I spotlighted a few days ago, I had a very, very strange vision:

Swee'Pea, Olive Oyl, and Poopdeck Pappy's bulletstrewn and bloodied bodies, laid across the grass of Central Park, with Popeye, sailor suit stained with red, falling to his knees and wailing in despair "NOOOOOSK!"

He then enters his mission of vengeance as the Pop-isher, heavily armed (in more ways than one), his black shirt featuring a white skull with one eye squinting.

("Stars and Stripes" starts playing)

"I've had all I can stands..."

(cocks shotgun)

"...and I can't STANDS NO MORE!"

Supporting cast: Bluto as Jigsaw, Wimpy as Pop-isher's assistant Microwimp.

Yeah, yeah, I know..."up the medication."

Employee Jeff: "Next time I go to a convention, I want to see Dan Didio and Joe Quesada get into a fight..."

Me: "...Wearing Speedos."

Employee Jeff: "GAH! No!"

I'm still accepting contributions to the "Mike's Lookin' for New Title Banners" drive...in fact, there's no deadline, so as long as this site is active, feel free to send 'em in as inspiration strikes. Remember: 825 by 100 pixels, "mike sterling's progressive ruin" all in lower case monospaced Courier font. Prizes probably won't be awarded, no money will change hands, fame and fortune will probably not be yours, there's no guarantee I will use your banner, or for how long. I'm simply exploiting your goodwill for my benefit, and I thank you for it.

Seriously, though, you folks have been sending in some fun banners, and I do appreciate the time and effort you're taking. I plan on beginning to showcase them sometime this week.

NOT COMICS, as Mr. Spurgeon would say: I've been listening to an enormous amount of Jack Benny lately. Nothing cheers a fellow up quite like Jack, Mary, Rochester, Don, Phil, Dennis, and the rest.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

No post today... 

...aside from this cool Halloween-ish ad from a '70s Marvel comic:

Real content presumably resumes tomorrow.

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