mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Superman won't give in. 

from Action Comics #514 (Dec. 1980)
by Marv Wolfman, Curt Swan & Frank Chiaramonte

Friday, December 14, 2007

"You'll Be Delighted!" 

From Justice League of America #93 (Oct/Nov 1971) is this full page house-ad ballyhooing the Shazam! awards DC won:

Giordano's sporting sideburns of heroic proportions, I must say. I also like that they had a comic awards category for "dramatic division," meaning, of course, dramatic superheroes. Are there any other kind?

And, presented here for no good reason, from the very same book is this ad, complete with a misused "it's," for Venus Flytraps:

Hell, a buck? That seems like a bargain, now. A quick, sloppy, non-comprehensive search on the Google turns up individual plants currently for sale at about six or seven bucks each, and a full "Venus Flytrap Kit" for $19.95 (includes terrarium).

This Venus Flytrap is, of course, priceless.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


...proof that someone once subscribed to Punisher 2099:

Okay, calm down there, I know you all had subscriptions to Punisher 2099 and are just itching to tell me so in the comments section. Just a joke, pals.

But, really, Punisher 2099? You subscribed to th...no, no, no, I didn't say that. Just ignore it.

Anyway, we picked up a collection recently where the seller had apparently, abruptly, stopped reading comics, to the point where he had about a half-dozen comics received via subscription, still sealed in their mailing bags.

I seem to recall some ballyhooing, by either Marvel or DC, or likely both, that their subscription comics were shipped in protective bags with backing boards, and I'm assuming this is what they meant by that. I don't remember the exact wording of those ads, and I'm going entirely off memory since I'm writing this at about midnight and I'm too tired to go digging through the vast Mikester Comic Archives for research. But as backing boards go, this piece of paper sealed in there with the comic barely counts...it flops around like uncooked bacon. You can't argue with success, though, since most of these comics look like they're in pretty good condition. Some minor spine wear, of course, since the board doesn't prevent bending in the slightest. It's certainly a vast improvement over how my one comic book subscription, circa the early '80s to Amazing Spider-Man, was packaged...one thin strip of paper, with mailing label, around the middle of the comic, leaving three-fourths of the comics naked, exposed unprotected to the harsh elements, with nothing between it and inclement weather, a mailman's spilled coffee, nibbling by otters, et cetera.

But these comics from the recently-acquired collection, what with their fancypants bags and boards, were from seventeen years ago. How are they mailed now? Is it about the same...sealed in a baggie, with a thin board inserted to hold the mailing label/subscription info?

I do like the look of the boards, so here are a handful of images of them from the collection:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Also known as vibrator." 

from World's Finest #170 (Oct/Nov 1967)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cut-ups and questions. 

I know, I've talked about this before, but I was preparing a bunch of these cards for the eBay, and I was struck by it again. Now, most of the costume cards we get nowadays are from recent shows...you get a costume (generally a shirt or a pair of pants) worn by Supporting Actor #2 or Guest Actor or, even sometimes, the Lead Actor in one episode or 'nother, chop it up, glue the pieces into these extree-thick trading cards, and disperse them out to the non-sport trading card masses.

When they do this to costumes from recent shows and movies, it doesn't seem so tragic. But when they do it to a thirty year old costume like Lt. Ilia's up there, taken from a...well, I hesitate to call Star Trek: The Motion Picture a classic, but we all know it, I'm sure the majority of you folks reading this have seen at least a bit of it, and we all recognize Persis Khambatta and her bald head and her gray uniform. So this costume, a recognizable piece of film history (to overstate it only slightly) has been sitting around in storage since the late '70s, only to be pulled and and cut up and distributed on trading cards. That seems a little sad to me...sure, it's neat that the fans can get a piece of something that appeared in a movie they liked, but I think I'd rather have seen that costume (and the other costumes destroyed for this set) remain intact.

Then again, that's easy for me to say. I didn't have to store these costumes for thirty years. Not everything is meant to be kept around forever.

And while I say it seems less tragic to do this to costumes from newer shows, who knows? Maybe in thirty years fans will look back on what we were getting up to today and exclaim "I can't believe they cut up Buffy's Doublemeat Palace pants for trading cards! What a loss to television history!"

Okay, that's a bit of a bummer, so here's something we can all enjoy: a signature card from the guy who played Young Spock in Star Trek III:

A few follow-up response to comments left recently:

Bill asks

"So is there any bit of that Elseworlds 80 Page Giant that hasn't been reprinted somewhere by now?"

Well, I took a quick look at the Wikipedia listing of contents, and I think of the stories listed, only Superman's Babysitter story and the Super Sons story escaped their pulping fate. As far as I know, anyway...if I missed one, let me know.

Michael Jones queries

"Just out of curiosity, how are back-issue sales on the first dozen Original Watchmen comics?"

So far, not too much action. Right now people are just interested in reading the story, so they're going for the trades. However, as the movie approaches, people will start asking for copies of the comics for "investment potential" and such, much like how we were wiped out of every copy of Amazing Spider-Man #252 (1st black costume) prior to the third Spider-Man flick. As you can infer from my statements yesterday, none of this demand will continue past the film's release.

Joe G. relates:

"It made me wonder just how many hardcore, long time comics readers have never bothered with Watchmen and that's why it keeps selling."

And that's something I need to remember when I think "how can there be anyone who hasn't yet read Watchmen?" Not everyone has been buying and reading comics for 30+ years like I have. Some people new to the hobby just haven't got around to it. Some people old to the hobby haven't got around to it. Some people in the hobby were born long after Watchmen was completed. There's still plenty of potential audience for the book within the hobby, as baffling as that may seem, but that's good. I'll be happy to sell it to them.

LaRue wonders

"Was that issue with Arcane as a half-spider strangling Swamp-Thing on the cover part of the Pasko era?"

Yes...that would be issue #19 of Saga of the Swamp Thing, which was Pasko's last on the series. That issue is also discussed in my old post about comic book Easter eggs.

And Jack T. asks

"where can I get more Herbie? ????"

Well, I can point you in the direction of this post at Again with The Comics, with a full Herbie story, but since he was linked by Boing Boing, I suspect you already know about that.

As for actual reprints...well, a few years back A+ Comics published several black and white comics reprinting Herbie stories in no particular order, and of varying printing quality. But it was better than (a fat little) nothing.

And Dark Horse attempted a 10(?) issue color mini-series reprinting classic Herbie tales along with new Herbie back-up stories by current creators. Alas, only two issues made it out the door, and the series was canned.

I should also note Herbie guest-starred in issue #31 of Flaming Carrot. If anyone can "get" Herbie, it's FC's creator Bob Burden.

A full chronological reprinting of all of Herbie's adventures, recolored, on nice paper, perhaps in Archive-style format, would be ideal, if perhaps nearly, but not quite, as unlikely as that long-awaited Absolute Edition Sonic Distruptors hardcover and slipcase, complete with unpublished ending. But someday, perhaps...someday.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"In prime condition - a real bargain." 

  • As reported on my Twitter-thingie last week, some local upright citizen decided to beautify our backdoors:

    Or at least attempted to, since he was apparently interrupted and didn't get to finish. Hmmm...that's definitely an "S," and that looks kind of like he was going to paint an "I" -- so, Sims, where were you the night of December 1st?

  • Pal Dorian sent around a link to this article, forecasting big, big sales for the Watchmen trade paperback as the movie looms ever closer.

    Longtime readers of this site know my experience with this...movie-related comics tend to peak in sales just before the movie's release, before dropping down to pre-movie hype sales (or even lower) upon or shortly after the film's debut. It happened with V for Vendetta, the first Spider-Man movie, From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and so on. And, judging by customer demand, trade sales could have been bumped upwards by the Sin City and Hellboy movies, but since Dark Horse was incapable of supplying those books to the direct market during peak demand, that's all theoretical.

    The Watchmen movie is the real test, however. The Watchmen graphic novel has been a consistent, constant seller for years. I don't have the numbers right in front of me, but I imagine it probably outsells several new graphic novels from Marvel and DC in any given month. It has a legendary status within the hobby, and at least some minor amount of recognition outside the hobby. I'm still reordering copies every week...and just when I think that there's no possibly way everyone hasn't read this book by now, I sell more copies.

    Now, at this point there's little chance that this movie is going to sink without a trace. It's a big-budget superhero movie, and it's gonna get noticed by the general public. Sometime late next year, and especially early '09, we're gonna be sick of seeing that smiley-face-with-blood-splash symbol all over everything advertising this flick. So, this movie will almost certainly enter the public consciousness.

    If the movie's good, the comic will become superfluous. "I've seen the movie...I don't need to read the comic." If the movie's bad, it'll be people in the store pointing at the book on the shelf and saying "Oh, yeah, Watchmen...that was a crap movie. Look, there's a comic based on it!" And then they'll laugh. (This is also known as the "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Effect.")

    I exaggerate slightly, but not much. V for Vendetta still sells, for example, but not nearly at the numbers it used to. I expect something similar to happen to Watchmen. Hopefully the movie will be at least watchable, so I don't have the additional burden of trying to convince customers that, yes, this comic is good, no really, it's not like the movie. (This is known as the "Howard the Duck Effect.")

  • Kid Chris has my back on the movies/comics thing. Also, speaking of Kid Chris...sort of, since he's absent from the podcast again, the Bispectacult has a new podcast up, entitled "Mary Jane Must Die!" Oh, goodness me. And that darn Dafna has the potty mouth, mind you, so keep those speakers turned down at work.

  • Here's what may be my favorite last line of a comic book, ever, from Barbaric Tales #1 (1986). A barbarian sneaks into a stronghold to confront the sorceress who killed his people. She says to him:

    "You seek your revenge with twisted words! An ill-phrased epitath [sic] for an ignorant savage! [...] Behold, barbarian...I will slay you as I did your clan...with words!"

    As she begins to cast her spell, the barbarian runs her through with his sword, slaying her. And, as he departs, he rubs it in with a little clever wordplay:

    Employee Aaron dug up this comic while filing some books, and showed me this story. I was literally flabbergasted, and I do not flabbergast easily.

  • Comic creator insults Ragnell, then begs for a review and link, proceeds to get what she was asking for.

  • I was poking through the recent Super Sons trade that DC put out, reprinting the Bob Haney "Sons of Superman and Batman" adventures from the '70s, and noticed that it included the Super Sons story from the Elseworlds 80 Page Giant. You know, the Giant that was ordered pulped by the publisher, because someone was a big ol' girl's blouse and was afraid that an element in the story where a baby Superman is babysat (baby Supes sitting in the microwave) would be imitated by the theoretical and mostly imaginary children who'd be reading this comic aimed at men in their 40s. So, being reminded of that just annoyed me, particularly since DC was later shamed into printing said Superman's Babysitter story (by Kyle Baker) when it won an Eisner award or two, thus making all the brouhaha kinda moot anyway.

    Another thing the Super Sons book reminded me of, and I'm sure someone out there in the comics internet already pointed out...in current DC continuity, we have Chris, the Kryptonian kid being raised by Clark and Lois...and we have Damian, the son of Batman.

    Dude...NEW SUPER SONS STORIES. Surely this must happen.

  • Wha...what...? I didn't see this in the latest issue of Star Wars Insider, did I?


    Though, God help me, I like the R2D2 shirt:

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Swamp Thing Week is over, but I'm about to make you wish it wasn't. 

And now, selected dialogue spoken by the super-villain Genocide from Brigade #2 (October 1992) by Rob Liefeld, Marat Mychaels, Hank Kanalz, Eric Stephenson, Paul Scott, and Norm Rapmund:

"Brigade! Bring me the heroes you call Brigade, lest I am forced to rip this city apart brick by brick until I find them!"

"Quickly! I grow impatient -- only the arrival of Brigade shall stem my wrath -- the wrath of Genocide!"

"Bah! What do I care of your puny city! I am Genocide! Your petty civilization means nothing to me!"

"I expected more from a warrior of your caliber!"

"...Months of study have allowed me to anticipate your every move...which is why you, Stasis, must be the next to fall!"

"While your immense size is a considerable asset -- it is an equally considerable liability!"

"...Your insignificance could not be more overstated! A true warrior transcends dependence on mere weapons...."

"AARRGHH! I can't move! What manner of cowardly ploy is this?! Have you no honor?!"


"Off, you insolent maggots!"

"...I am Genocide! The mere utterance of my name causes entire civilizations to quake with fear!"

"I have laid low cities of such grandeur the likes of you could never imagine! But always with honor! Always with respect!"

"Insignificant gnats!! I've toyed with you for too long!"

"And once I've squeezed the last breaths out of your wretched frames, I'll slaughter your people like cattle!"

"Contemptible fools! Did you truly believe you could withstand the sheer might of a warrior of the blood?!"

"Wha--?! No! They can't have found me --"

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