mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, October 27, 2007

From the other end of the spectrum. 

Me: "You know what action figure line Todd McFarlane should do next?"

Employee Aaron: "What's that?"

Me: "'EXTREME BIBLE' action figures."

Employee Aaron: "Oh, no."

Me: "Oh, sure...there could be a special 'Last Supper' series, where each of the thirteen action figures comes with a piece of the Last Supper table that you can assemble."

Employee Aaron: "...Where do you get these ideas?"

Me: "They're divinely inspired."

Employee Aaron: "'Divine?'"

Me: "Yes...the spirit of Divine, from the John Waters films, comes to me at night and whispers these ideas into my ear."

Employee Aaron: "I quit."

The comic supplies of the beast. 

Restocking the comic supply shelves on Friday, I discovered the case of comic book bags...from Hell:

Yes, that's right, it's Carton #666. BEWARE THE BAGS OF BEELZEBUB.

Then again, it's just as well...I do have some appropriate comics around here that need some bagging:

Okay, maybe that Hot Stuff won't fit into a current-sized bag, but these are demonic comic bags. Perhaps one of their hellborn powers is to fit any comic, thus luring in the unsuspecting collector, who uses more and more of these bags...until he loses his soul and finds himself sealed in a flaming CGC case...for all eternity!

And perhaps they have other mysterious and nefarious powers as well. Maybe if I bag up back issues of Brigade, those'll finally start selli...nah, even the Devil has standards.

Friday, October 26, 2007

You know Starro would be fantastic

Here's something from the new Previews I missed for yesterday's "End of Civilization" post:

From the newest assortment of Star Trek Minimates, it's...Good Lord A'mighty, it's a Spock's Brain figure! Based on the greatest classic Star Trek episode!

It's apparently a "variant" figure, so it'll be a little harder to find...but c'mon, look at it...it's worth the search.

(Additional linkage...when I Googled up "Spock's Brain," I found this page detailing a stage production of said episode, including video clips. Oh, this looks like it was a hoot.)

I've been meaning to note some anniversaries of fellow webloggers (comics 'n' otherwise) for a couple days now, so I hope they don't mind my belated congratulations.

First is Chris "Lefty" Brown, entertaining writer and all-around swell cat, who just celebrated his four year anniversary in the 'blogging biz. Chris is also one of the very few people in the comicsweblogosphere that I eventually got to meet in person. So to you, Chris...thanks for the years of good readin', and here's to many more!

Next is Aquaman's Pal Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag, who just hit the very impressive five year mark. She's been having kind of a rough time of it lately, what with her vehicular troubles, so along with my congratulations I want to send her my best wishes, and to tell her to hang in there. Things'll get better, honest!

And then there's Johnny Bacardi, who also just hit the Big Five. Alas, he's retiring from comics blogging, which is too bad...I don't think there's anyone with an interest in comic blogs who doesn't respect and admire JB's work. We're losing one of the cornerstones of comics weblogging with his departure, and this little hobby of ours will be the poorer for it.

Okay, okay, he's not dead or anything...he still has an online presence, and he has another project or two he's working on, but to see him make semi-official his retirement from comics talk...well, nobody wants to see that. Hopefully we can cajole him into returning soon.

The more I hear (rumors and otherwise) about the apparently forthcoming live-action Justice League of America movie, the more of a crazy mess it sounds like.

According to the rumors in that article:

"Maxwell Lord and Ra's al Ghul are currently expected to be the major villains of the movie, with a third baddie to be revealed in a major twist during the course of the film. Making up the Justice League will be Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter."

I don't...I don't know, really. Fanboy Mike says "yes," Rational Adult Mike says "oh, dear." Depends on who the alleged third villain is. I say Starro. I mean, what the hell...you've already got a half-dozen or so guys 'n' gals in tights with superpowers on screen. You're gonna draw the line at a giant telepathic extraterrestrial starfish? C'mon.


God bless Chris Karath. I love his photographs of his recent action figure acquisitions, showing their packaging, posing/comparing/contrasting them with other similar figures, et cetera. In this case, he even reproduces the Spidey/Mary Jane "rain kiss" with his figures. Chris's showcasing of his figures in this manner is both lighthearted and informative, and I appreciate the effort he continually puts into it.

Oh, and happy birthday, Junior!

Okay, I hadn't been paying attention to the Marvel costume contest, and I didn't go look until Kevin sent the link around. But, now that I've checked it out...some of those costumes are pretty good, others are...well, they certainly put some effort in. But really, when it comes down to the vote, you might as well stop counting right now, because this guy?


And so long as I'm talking about Marvel...regarding the solicitation for this new Hulk title:

Okay, I like the look of the Red Hulk. That's pretty neat. And it's being drawn by Ed McGuinness, so it'll look great, big ol' weird purplish "tree root" veins and all.

And it's being written by Jeph Loeb, so it probably won't make a lick of sense, but it'll probably be goofy fun anyway. Think those early issues of Superman/Batman, only with more smashing. That's what I'm hoping for, at any rate.

According to Employee Aaron, a customer saw that Red Hulk image on the cover of the Marvel Previews and remarked "Hey, I'd like to see a blue Hulk someday!"


Aaron's gonna have to point this customer out to me when he comes back in, because I'm makin' this sale!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Progressive Ruin Presents...the End of Civilization. 

Welcome, younglings, as the 33rd monthly installment of the End of Civilization, this is. Your November 2007 edition of Diamond Previews you will read, and follow along, you wi...oh, okay, I'll stop. Anyway, the previous installments are, as always, in the sidebar, so let the bad merchandise, silly products, and the objectification of the female form begin!

p. 45 - Judge Dredd Alien Statue:

In case you needed to confuse any of your friends and family..."why does your Alien statue have the face of a helmeted man with a deformed chin?"

p. 131 - Showcase Presents Series 1 Action Figures:

As I mentioned here...ALTERNATE RED KRYPTONITE HEADS. The real fun will come in as you try to fit them onto other figures. (I have some likely prospects....)

p. 164 - The Godfather Action Figure:

Okay, I know the "action figure" description is a misnomer, but I suppose that helps the item sell better than calling it "only barely-articulated plastic statue." But I can't help picturing neighborhood kids playing with their toys:

"Okay, so my Luke Skywalker uses his lightsabre to cut off Snake Eyes' head."

"No way! Snake Eyes totally dodged that lightsabre."

"The Godfather has ordered a hit on both of you, and his thugs gun you down in cold blood. Your bodies lie on the ground, almost looking as if you were sleeping, save for the red sticky pool of viscous liquid forming beneath you."


"...My mom says I can't play with you any more."

p. 174 - Witchblade Takeru Manga #11:

Okay, let's be honest here. This is a stroke book, pure and simple. And by "stroke book," in case any of you are confused, I mean "a magazine featuring images of prurient interest for use as visual stimuli during masturbation." It features an assemblage of barely covered breasts and vaginas (bottoms being generally free of clothing) being posed in a variety of ways. I suppose there's dialogue, and some pretense at a plot, but the star of the show is female body parts.

I didn't think they could outdo the cheesecake factor of the original Witchblade comic, but here it is.

p. 209 - Archie Comics:

Dear publishers of Archie Comics:

Screw you, you incredible pricks. (1, 2 for how Archie is trying to drop Dan DeCarlo, creator of Josie and co-creator of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, into the memory hole.)

p. 242-3 - Red Sonja comics:

Speaking of stroke books....

It's a two page spread of Red Sonja's rear end! On the left hand side is Alex Ross' illustration of Red Sonja's butt:

And to the right are two more Red Sonja behinds, presented for your perusal:

Okay, those two are more or less the same image, one being a comic cover, the other being a 3-D representation. But BAM, BAM, BAM, it's butt, butt, butt across both pages. Enjoy, boys!

p. 369 - Captain Kirk's Guide to Women:

At last, we have a replacement for The Bible:

Publishers, shutter your doors. Printers, halt your presses. The book industry has reached its zenith, and human knowledge has achieved its greatest accomplishment. If there is any knowledge in the world not contained within these pages...it's not worth knowing.

p. 398 - Mounted Cthulhu Head Plush:

You know, after Santa Cthulhu, and Elvis Cthulhu, and so on, I keep thinkng that there's nothing more that can be done in the stuffed Cthulhu genre...

...but apparently there is.

Of course, now that we've achived Mounted Cthulhu, it's only one more step to incorporate Big Mouth Billy Bass technology to make him talk. Imagine some unsuspecting guest at your house admiring your Mounted Cthulhu, when it suddenly recites "That is not dead which can eternal lie / And with strange aeons even death may die." Big laffs!

p. 400 - For A Few Dollars More Minimates Box Set:

Is the world ready for a Clint Eastwood Minimate? I don't really have anything smart-alecky to say about this. I'm just stunned it even exists.

p. 420 - She Dragon Variant Edition Statue:

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this statue before, but, after doing this End of Civilization thing for nearly three years now, I'm running short of ways to say "the things you people make statues out of." I mean, honestly:

But, in all fairness, Mr. Glum totally rules. This should be sold this seperately:

p. 430 - Lord of the Rings Snaga Ringbearer Bust:

Okay, now, this needs to stop. Gandalf statues, fine. There'll always be hippies to buy 'em. And Gollum? Who doesn't love Gollum? But this guy:

At this point, with the movies well over and done with, "scraping the bottom of barrel"-level characters may be a tough sell.

p. 448 - Marvel Bearz Series 1 Vinyl Figures:

From the solicitation info:

"Each Marvel Bearz features a colorful, hidden button on the back of it's [sic] head. Some of these buttons are rarer than others, and are covered with a safety cap, so until you have purchased your bear, no one knows what color (or limitation) your button will be."

Okay, leaving aside I have no idea what they mean by "what limitation your button will be" (I'll Google it up later, if I still care), does everything have to have some kind of artificial collectible/trading aspect to it? Can't these just be weird superhero bears? Can't we enjoy the simple sublime beauty of the concept just as is?

Well, "beauty" is a relative term. This Carnage Bear is just pure nightmare fuel:


p. 452 - Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 - Lei Fang ArtFX Statue:

"I'm ready for my exam, Doctor!"

p. 482 - Smallville Kryptonite Metal Key:

At $39.99, that's one expensive coaster. Because WHAT ELSE CAN YOU POSSIBLY USE THIS FOR? Leveling out table legs? Paint it red and make a very small stop sign?

p. 482 - Horror Playing Cards:

I'm not sure what's so horrific about the Vivid Girls cards (though I suppose the implants are terrifying), and I was all set to poke a little fun at these, but...well, I kinda want a set of the Nightmare on Elm Street cards. And I bet they'd sell like gangbusters, especially at five bucks a pop.

Hmmm...I think I need to add "playing cards" to the store's merchandise shelves....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mike's New Comics Day Lunchtime Update 3003. 

1. Good Lord, 23 boxes from Diamond this morning? And none of them "cheater" boxes (like the entire Diamond box for just, say, the Comic Shop News flyers). Oy. We'd better sell some comics this week.

2. Dear customer: please try to let your scent of marijuana dissipate slightly before coming to our store. I don't need the contact high. Thank you.

3. Right at opening time, a huge U-Haul truck parked right in front of our store, blocking all visibility of our shop from the street. It didn't stay long, and bonus: when it pulled away it broke off that long low-hanging branch from the tree out front.

4. Is anyone buying that Gene Simmons' Dominatrix comic? Our customers just kinda point and laugh at it.

5. BUYER'S NOTE: There's a page of Fred Hembeck in the new What If: Planet Hulk comic.

6. FIRE FOLLOW-UP: The skies are sunny locally, but the air is still ashy...we're keeping the doors closed for the time being. Employee Aaron notes that the evacuation notice out where he lives (Fillmore) has been canceled, though as of last night he can still see flames over the hills near his house.

7. CUSTOMER: "Do you have this comic? I've been looking for this comic forever, and I've asked you for this comic before, but you guys never have it. Do you have it? Have you even heard of it? I really want this comic."

ME: "Oh, you mean --" (whips comic out of back issue bin) "-- this comic?"

CUSTOMER: "Yes! That's it! That's the one I've been looking for!"

ME: "Okay...should I keep it at the register for you?"

CUSTOMER: "Oh, no, I'm not going to buy it today."

Little short on time at the moment... 

...so here's a panel of Swamp Thing fighting some robot dogs:

from Swamp Thing #17 (July 1975) by David Michelinie & Nestor Redondo

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Smoke got in my eyes. 

So as you may have heard, big chunks of Southern California are ablaze, driven by strong winds. Most of that activity is quite a bit south of the store, so we're not in danger, though I'm surprised we haven't yet had our semi-annual brushfire just over the hills behind us yet.

However, on Monday I'd gone to a grocery store very near my house, and between going in the store and coming out of the store, a grassy embankment on the other side of the parking lot had caught on fire. It's right there next to a freeway offramp, and I'm guessing the culprit was "tossed out cigarette butt." Thankfully, the fire department was right on top of it and took care of the fire in short order.

Employees Jeff and Aaron live much closer to the Piru and Fillmore events, so think kind thoughts for them, as well as for everyone else affected by these fires.

On Sunday, the winds had blown lots of smoke and ash our way, turning the skies orange, and I took a couple photos outside the shop:

I didn't color correct this image, or alter the contrast or brightness. I took these photos at about 3 in the afternoon. It cleared up later that day for a while, and it was actually sunny, but since then the skies have been consistently cloudy, the air thick with ash and smoke.

As long as I was out there takin' photos, I grabbed a pic of that tree the city planted in front of our shop:

The tree had grown crooked, so the city employees in charge of this sort of thing set up an elaborate system of wooden poles and rubber straps to set the tree straight, to no real avail.

And that branch that sticks out way to the left, there...it's just the right height and length to poke at the doors, or rest on the hoods, of any car that parks there. I've spoken to one of the city guys to do something about trimming that branch, but no go so far. I'm thinking about doing it myself, but I can just see me doing a nickel up the river in the ol' graybar hotel on the tree vandalism rap.

Also, if you take a close look in one of those street photos, you can see where our shop was from 1983 'til 1990:

Yes, it's a massage parlor now. It was a massage parlor before we were in there, too...there was even a working shower in the back. Could have used showers in our later locations, come to think of it. "Sold...POGS...must...wash off...shame...."

And just look at that...their tree isn't deformed. Man.

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Doom to anyone who steals me gold!" 

So a customer recently unloaded his collection of funnybooks on us, as he's moving, and isn't taking the books with him. As is usually the case when we receive collections in bulk like this, the vast majority of the books is going straight to the bargain bins, but a few items are being kept aside. An Albedo #2 (the first appearance of Usagi Yojimbo), a couple copies of Tales from the Tube (the comic-sized edition and the one from the surfing magazine), and not just one, but two New Mutants #87, second printings, signed by the man himself, Rob Liefeld.

However, also in this collection was three copies of this bit of horror film history, about which I was previously unaware:

It's a magazine-sized promo for the film's release, only twelve pages long, and in color...sort of. I'll explain that in the moment.

In what will likely come as a shock to most of you, I've never actually seen any of the Leprechaun films, despite my love for cheesy-yet-great horror films. I mean, I've even seen The Gingerdead Man (starring Gary Busey as an executed killer who comes back in the form of a murderous animated gingerbread man cookie), and yet I've never seen a Leprechaun film? Not even Leprechaun 6: Back 2 Tha Hood. Ah, well...Netflix, here I come, I guess.

Anyway, here are a few samples from the book, such as this panel with the Leprechaun in question:

As the Leprechaun zips through these few pages seeking his lost gold, he spends some time causing mischief and delivering ironic, or at least rhyming, punishments:

The artwork for the most part is a tad on the amateurish side, but serviceably cartoonish. There's at least one terrifying full-page image of the Leprechaun's face, which reminded me a bit of the heavily photo-referenced pin-up pages from the old Partridge Family comics.

And there are a couple bizarrely creepy panels like this in the mag:

Those two panels along the bottom there show the Leprechaun's hand reaching out for the lady in the first panel, and the second panel shows the woman, presumably stripped of her clothing and her hair, in case you couldn't see what was going on in the scan. Geez, Lep, what'd that lady ever do to you?

I mentioned the book was "sort of" in color a few sentences back, and that's because this is some of the worst printing I've ever seen. Dark, muddy, blurry...here's a sample of what the art looked like without my fiddling around with brightness and contrast:

The inside covers were both full-page ads...one was for the Sci-Fi Channel, and the other was for this frightening thing. Rick Dees! AIIIIIIEEEEE:

The back cover was a reproduction of the movie poster, with the blurb "LOOK FOR THE 'LEPRECHAUN' BOARD GAME" at the bottom. I did a brief Googling, and looked at Boardgamegeek.com, but couldn't spot it. I hope it does exist. I'm picturing a Monopoly-type board, where every square, and every Chance and Community Chest card, has the Leprechaun's face on it, with a word balloon that reads "WHERE'S ME GOLD?"

Anyway, for some good scans of the entire story, this Angelfire site has full-color images donated by the artist himself, and unencumbered by the horrible printing job. (And since it is an Angelfire site, it'll likely have pop-ups and bandwidth issues, so if it's down, check again later.) The main page is located here, last updated eight years ago. There's a link to what is apparently a more up-to-date Leprechaun page by the same person, but I couldn't get it to load. Well, it has been since 1999 when that link was presumably posted.

Because I know some of you wouldn't believe me...here's the trailer for The Gingerdead Man. Some dialogue Not Safe for Work:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Brian's Decision. 

From Spider-Man, Storm and Power Man (1992):

Here's what I think Brian would say:

How's 'bout you?

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