mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Okay, maybe you didn't demand it. 

Because you demanded it, and because I had a little free time...here you go, some banners declaring your love for the absolutely fantastic, and desperately misunderstood, All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder (shortened here to All Star Batman for clarity's sake):

Download 'em, upload them to your own image host, and post them proudly, proudly I say, on your weblogs, message boards, business websites...wherever appropriate. (Just don't hotlink them, please.)

No, there's no need to thank me. Your tears of joy are enough.

Friday, December 28, 2007

How to make the entire internet hate me. 

Yes, as I posted in that Twitter doodad yesterday afternoon, former employee, podcaster, and bon vivant Kid Chris filled in when I found myself shorthanded at the shop, with Employee Aaron in the drunk tank recovering from the flu and Employee Jeff working his second job as a strip-o-gram unable to make it in. However, the call went out, and Kid Chris, from his secret lair somewhere 60 miles south of us, jumped into the Kid Chrismobile and sped his way up to the store to answer my call.

And as usual, when you give Kid Chris and I a chance to put our brains together, we generate some solid ideas for a better future and a stronger America.

To wit:

We've developed a comic book rating system based on how many All Star Batmans something is worth. You know, like "this comic is as good as two All Star Batmans." However, I'm sure you already see the problem, since All Star Batman is itself the pinnacle of comic book excellence. Anything being equivalent to two or more ASBs is only theoretical, and quite impossible given our current level of comic book technology. Like the speed of light, you can only approach the 1.0 of ASB, but never exceed it.*

Therefore, items are ranked by percentages. For example, let us take All Star Superman, the second-best All Star book. No one denies that All Star Superman is swell, and personally I think it nearly achieves perfection. Therefore, under our ASB scale, it's ranked as follows:


Then let's take something, like, oh, Incredible Hulk #112, a perfectly acceptable, but not outstanding, superhero book. It's competently done, and entertaining enough, but not a top-flight example of the medium. Nothing to be ashamed of, certainly, but not compelling reading unless you're already reading the book. So, it gets...


And then there's something like, say, Countdown Presents Search for Ray Palmer: Superwoman & Batwoman, where the title is about as long as the plot outline for this issue. Now, I kinda enjoy it, but it only exists for DC Multiverse continuity fanboys, and doesn't do much to really advance the actual "search for Ray Palmer" at all. As I noted before, every issue is pretty much the same...our team pops in, looks around, "hey, things are different here," get into a fight or two, find out they just missed Ray, move on. As I said, only DCU fanboys need apply, but that's me, I'm afraid...I know it's no good, but I like revisiting these Elseworlds anyway, which is why it gets this high a score:


Now let's take Ultimates 3 #1:


It was stapled, and the pages were in order. I think.

Hopefully, you get the idea, here. It's better than my "is this comic better than the tree the paper came from" idea, anyway. And best of all...who's going to argue about the standard used? Everybody loves All Star Batman.

As if that's not enough, Kid Chris and I determined that, using the properties of Shade the Changing Man's M-vest, we can retroactively insert a reason for the actual separation of the Vertigo universe from the regular DC universe, and perhaps use it to reintegrate them together again.

Oh, and Kid Chris has rescinded his statement that Jack Kirby was the Rob Liefeld of the '70s. In case you were wondering.

* Okay, I know there's some theoretical scientific discussion about some faster than light effects, but until I have evidence of quantum entanglement of All Star Batman comics, just go with me here, okay? Though I suspect discussions of light speed is not going to be the thing folks will object to in this post....

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Turok: Son of Stone trailer. 

(thanks to my Canadian twin for pointing it out)

This just kinda snuck up on me...I wasn't aware this was even happening, but apparently it's a real project. Huh.

Some YouTube commenters only appear familiar with the video game/Valiant-era versions of the character:

"Many people assume Turok started out as a videogame, but in actuality it was comic book series that was very bloody and gory."

"Everything looks great, except Turok's voice sounds nothing like what it sounded like in the game."

I like this comment the best:

I can't wait!!!!
I don't mind iff there's no Futuristic weapons or that, but The only thing I'd comment on is that when the guy says 'I am Turok' It doesn't sound the best.
Other than that, It looks ausome!!!"

Well said!

Movie books, and a couple questions for you

Tim O'Neil recently posted about the variety of cover images used for Philip Jose Farmer's novel To Your Scattered Bodies Go, and the, shall we say, varying levels of quality represented.

In his introduction, Tim talks about how, by and large, covers for sci-fi books are pretty bad, the worst being the book covers that tie into their film adaptations. And that reminded me of my "favorite" (i.e. "most appalling") movie tie-in book cover of all time:

Nothing against Mr. Smith, who manages to be entertainingly watchable in even his terrible movies. Mostly I'm just amused given that any similarities between the I, Robot movie and Isaac Asimov's I, Robot novel are largely coincidental. I mean, c'mon, Dr. Susan Calvin suddenly becoming a gun-toting action hero? That gave me a start.

However, I'd be lying if I said I didn't love this particular variation on Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, scanned from my personal library:

"Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty vampires!"

In other news:

Well, actually, I don't have any other news at the moment. No new comics yet this week, and I haven't had time to follow any big comic book news goin' on, if there is any.

So, I'm going to ask you a question. I showed you mine, now you can show me yours. Did you get any comic book swag for the holidays? Any good stuff you desperately wanted? Or how 'bout any stuff obviously purchased for you because "hey, s/he likes comics, this is comic related, s/he'll love it!" regardless of whether you're interested in it or not? (Yeah, I know, "it's the thought that counts," but it still might be good for a laugh or two.)

And did you give any comic book stuff to anyone? To fans or non-fans? Please let me know in the comments section!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A little bit of the crass commercialism. 

I received one of these for Christmas:

Pretty nice, ain't it? Now I have statues of both of my favorite comic book characters...Swamp Thing and Uncle Scroge McDuck. Yes, I know that's weird. No, not the "owning statues" part, but that my two favorite comic book characters are Swamp Thing and Uncle Scrooge McDuck.

Well, okay, the "owning statues" part is weird, too. Have I mentioned that I have two Swamp Thing statues?

I was also gifted with that new Futurama direct-to-DVD movie, so all you folks asking me if I've seen it...yes, I will be seeing it shortly. And I finally got a copy of Black Books series 3, which will surely help me improve my shop management skills.

And because I know you all want to know...pal Dorian, after returning the Cute Galactus he'd planned on giving me until it turned out that, well, I bought one for myself, presented me with something nearly as terrifying: CUTE LEX LUTHOR:

Alas, no cutesy descriptions of Luthor's personality and/or abilities on the packaging, like Cute Galactus had, but he does come with a badass springloaded injury-to-eye Kryptonite cannon, so there's that.

I swear my discussion of these presents wasn't just an excuse for Amazon links. But, you know, so long as I was talkin' about 'em...what the heck, right?

Also, I wanted to mention to you folks that I'll likely be going through the links in my sidebar and deleting sites that haven't updated in a while...or may very well be gone completely. It's been a few months since I've done a thorough checking. Remember, kids, check and wash your sidebar on a regular basis! It's just good hygiene.

Anyway, if you have a link in the sidebar, there, and you haven't updated since, say, last June, your link's gotta go...unless, of course, you e-mail me and swear up and down you're gonna get going on your site again, in which case, because I'm a soft touch, I'll leave the link up.

As a reminder: GO SPEND MONEY AT YOUR COMIC SHOP THIS WEEK. You know that ten-spot Aunt Cynthia always slips into your Christmas card every year? What are you gonna spend it on? Food? Clothing? Rent? Pshaw! Go buy some funnybooks, friend. As I noted a couple days ago, the new releases this Friday (delayed from Wednesday due to Christmas) are going to add up to a not-so-pretty penny, so please lend a hand, and some coin of the realm, to your local retailer. Who knows...there might even be some kind of after-Christmas sale there to make up for the late arrival of the new books (hint hint nudge).

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

We wish you a Swampy Christmas. 

from Swamp Thing #115 (Jan '92) by Nancy Collins,
Tom Mandrake & Kim DeMulder

Monday, December 24, 2007

Pal Sean gave me Toy Dolls: The Complete Singles for Christmas, and that's what I'm listening to as I write this. 

  • You know, it seems to me that the period around Christmas and the New Year was traditionally a time when Marvel and DC would kinda scale back the new releases a bit, giving us a small end-of-the-year breather and taking into consideration the fact that, maybe, folks might be interested in doing stuff other than keeping up on the latest funnybook releases.

    Well, this coming New Comics Day (Friday, not Wednesday, remember) will feature 24 new DC releases (not counting the Wildstorm imprint) and 28 new Marvel releases (assuming I counted correctly), not to mention an onslaught of other new comics and books being unleashed on us this week. The result...probably the largest distributor invoice we've had this year, outside the week we received all the Free Comic Book Day giveaways.

    Part of the problem is late shipping...over the last few weeks I've been noticing a few items we ordered for summer sales finally arriving in time for...well, Thanksgiving. This latest invoice has a handful of items with June item codes, which should have been in our hands sometime in September, ideally. And the other problem is the $3.99 price point on those comics that you have to order a lot of to meet demand. A couple hundred copies of Amazing Spider-Man #545 at $3.99 a pop, even with the distributor discount, still adds up to a sizable chunk of change you gotta dish out. They should pay for themselves, but then there's the stuff that doesn't perform to expectations that invariably arrives with every shipment, and add in the fact that the delayed shipping schedule will adversely affect sales...well, let's just say if you get a lot of Christmas money this year, please share some of it with your local retailer, because he or she's gonna need it.

    Here's hoping the stuff arriving the week of the New Year doesn't amount to much.

  • I notice one of the titles coming in this week is Iron Man, sales for which, at least for us, are barely negligible. It used to be a solid mid-range seller, at least until around, more or less, the period surrounding Marvel's Civil War event.

    Now, it could just be a coincidence...maybe our clientele just decided that the current Iron Man book just wasn't to their tastes. But a part of me can't help but wonder if making Iron Man, for all intents and purposes, the bad guy in the Civil War series somehow impacted sales on the Iron Man title. I could be reading too much into it, but it's something to think about.

    I'm also curious if the producers of the Iron Man movie know what Marvel did to their character. Given the tail-wagging-the-dog nature of the relationship between comic books and their film adaptations, I wonder if the film's producers, if they're taking notice of the comic book at all, will insist on some character repair prior to the movie's release.

  • In my continuing efforts to keep you updated on Mystery Science Theatre news, which has precious little to do with comic books, I realize, but I loved that show and I'm gonna use my weblog to talk about it...er, that sentence got away from me a bit, so let me throw a period in here somewhere and start fresh. There. Okay, MST3K creator Joel Hodgson, along with other original cast members, have finally launched their first Cinematic Titanic DVD release The Oozing Skull, the trailer for which you can see right here, and you can read more about the project (and where to order it) at the Cinematic Titanic weblog.

    Here's a still I took from the trailer, to give you an idea of what it's like:

    Like MST3K, the folks doing the riffing are visible onscreen, but unlike MST3K, they're standing at the bottom corners rather than sitting along the bottom. And judging by the trailer, there appears to be more gag interaction with the film's image, with the CT cast using props to, say, scrub a character's face or, at one point, lower chandeliers into the picture. Not sure what the chandelier thing is about, but I can't wait to see.

  • Due to the Friday release of the new funnybooks, which also includes the newest Diamond Previews catalog, my monthly "End of Civilization" post may be delayed 'til Monday. Sorry about that, but trying to get EoC done in one night is enough of a task during the week. Trying to squeeze it in on a Friday or Saturday night may end my civilization, frankly.

    So, civilization ends next Monday. Tell your friends, warn the neighbors.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year. 

An actual exchange at the store today:

Me: "Oh, boy! Boy!"

Employee Jeff: "Yes, sir?"

Me: "What day is it, boy?"

Employee Jeff: "Why, it's Christmas Day, sir!"

Me: "Excellent! Boy, take this crisp twenty dollar bill, and take it next door to the game store, would you?"

Employee Jeff: "Sir?"

Me: "Please exchange it for twenty singles. I wish to go the strip club this fine holiday!"

Employee Jeff: "Right away, sir! And Merry Christmas!"

Me: "Same to you, lad!"

"There's no beer here." 

I was poking through some '70s and '80s DCs at work on Saturday, and I realized that I really miss Bob Rozakis' old "Ask The Answer Man" columns from the editorial pages. Here's a good example from March 1979, with a bunch of really short, to-the-point, and only occasionally slightly-evasive - yet still true! - answers:

Now that I get questions like this at the shop all the time, I have as much empathy as I do nostalgia for those columns.

'Course, I get questions like this, too:

Eventually poor Bob got so many value questions that they were spun off into a second Answer Man column. The values always seemed to be in the under-a-dollar range. I don't think I ever saw a response that read "Holy crap! That's worth $3,560!"

In other news:

  • Pal Dorian sent along a quote from DC's Dan Didio in this interview which seems to confirm at least half of my supposition regarding events in the Death of the New Gods series:

    "...But the New Gods' story…they're gods. They're [sic] story's not even close to over. It's the advent of the Fifth World, and what's the point of a Fifth World if we don't have New Gods in it?

    "It's funny for us – I think we've telegraphed so much that the New Gods are coming upon a rebirth, and the story that we're telling with them now is a continuation of the story that was established when Kirby first conceived the concept. Talk about death – Kirby blew up worlds at the start of the series. The story started with, 'The Old Gods Died!' which made room for the New Gods – we're picking up that thread and launching the DCU into the future."

    Okay, they're not dying, a point made almost explicitly clear in the series itself...the Source isn't reacting to their deaths, so either the Source is having problems, or whatever is happening to the New Gods isn't death. My guess was that they're undergoing a transformative experience, which appears to be what Didio is saying...that they're being reborn.

    Unless of course it's a whole new batch of Newer Gods popping up, replacing the previous, and dead, New Gods entirely, then never mind.

    Still think Shiloh Norman is responsible, though. Guess we'll find out soon enough.

  • As I noted in the Twitter, a bunch of drunken folks dressed as Santa Claus were walking through town, carrying on and having a good ol' time. One woman was shouting incoherently in her megaphone.

    They ventured into our store for just a moment, long enough for one guy to exclaim "There's no beer here," followed by their mass exodus.

    Ha! Little did they know.

  • Speaking of dress-up, we had a guy in the shop that looked like a gothity-goth version of Serifan from the Forever People:

    Honestly, the thought that went through my head was exactly "Why does that guy look like Serifan?"

    That I was able to immediately pull up the name "Serifan" out of the memory banks to describe another person and his manner of dress is a bit on the upsetting side.

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