mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lies, damned lies.... 







Friday, January 25, 2008

Don't mess with Alvin. 

The Little Lulu story "Boy Cannon Ball" (as featured in this week's Dark Horse release of Little Lulu Vol. 18: The Expert) contains some of my favorite little gags from the series, where Alvin, in the audience for Tubby's alleged human cannonball trick, continually declares "FAKE!" Like so:

He's paid his nickel for the privilege, he insists on sitting through the trick multiple times, and he's entirely unconvinced, shouting "FAKE!" or otherwise heckling the festivities.

And when there's activity away from the main stage, our man Alvin doesn't care, because he's too busy being pissed off and glaring distrustfully at the cannon:

Of course, Alvin is right, and it is a fake...but once the trick's exposed, suddenly he's happy and can't wait to see Tubby "get shot out of the cannon again."

The focus is primarily Lulu and Annie trying to figure out how the boys are pulling off this stunt, which I'm sure in the able hands of John Stanley and Irving Tripp would have been enough to form an entertaining story. But the willful contrariness of Alvin just kills me, every time, and adds yet another dimension of humor to the shenanigans. I mean, just look at him:

That kid's got no time for your shit, so don't even try it.

And he's right not to trust Tubby, because check this out:



I mean, between that and this, I think that young man has some self-control issues.

In other news:
  • If you work in, or shop at, comic book stores, and if you're already in kind of a downer mood, I don't recommend you read Tim O'Neil's comic shop manifesto, because you'll turn to the drink. I've been in shops like he describes. It's depressing. (Though I have to admit our shop used a cigar box for transactions...like, over twenty-five years ago, when the store was just a hole-in-the-wall inside another store. We've improved slightly since then!)

    For some related reading, here's a post of mine from a while back.

  • Nothing quite like checking the ol' answering machine and having a message from none other than Dave "Cerebus" Sim, promoting his forthcoming funnybook Glamourpuss and offering to send us a promotional item. Even better: getting to call him back and give him our correct address, since he had an old address and couldn't quite make out the new one from our machine's message. (Not Dave's fault...I need to rerecord it. EDIT: Not because we have the wrong address on there...just the playback's a bit garbled.)

    Alas, I didn't get to talk to the man himself, but I did get his answering machine, featuring a message from a woman portraying "Glamourpuss," plugging the series. Fantastic.

  • Speaking of creators doing some promotional legwork (and believe me, nothing quite gets your attention like Dave Sim calling YOU), comics weblogger and all-around swell guy Matt Maxwell has the first chapter of his forthcoming graphic novel Strangeways: Murder Moon up for your perusal. Good stuff, give it a read.

  • You know, I put in this fourth spot without really having anything in mind to put in it. So, what the hell, here's more Sluggo, repurposed from this post by reader The Mutt:

    What more is there to say, really?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Let's see if this post gets me on the work 'n' school internet filters. 

The big news for this week's batch of new funnybooks is the surprising return of Walt Disney's Comics & Stories (#686) and Uncle Scrooge (#371) to the stands, after months of being AWOL. An official statement on the updated schedules for Gemstone's Disney releases may be found here, though no reason for the delay is given. I can't seem to find one in that newsletter archive, and the only thing I've seen is a mention of some printer issues on a message board somewhere. But, whatever the reason, I'm glad they're coming out again, so people will stop blaming me for the delay.

Other new arrivals:

  • It's the comic everyone is talking about...MILFs on Mars. Yes, I said MILFs on Mars. And yes, we ordered it for the store. From the makers of Housewives at Play.

    I'm a porn merchant. YAY!

  • Marvel Zombies 2 #4 - I noted before that the bloom is seemingly off the rose for the Marvel Zombies franchise, as it's not selling with quite the frenzy the first series did. It's still a very solid mid-range seller, so I can't complain too much.

  • Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #5 - it's not quite the photostat/Photoshop-fest of the previous issues...or, rather, the artist manages to hide it marginally better this time. But when you do see it...man, that's distracting.

  • Speak of the Devil #4 - I was warned that things were going to get remarkably violent after the relatively benign early installments...and boy howdy, here you go.

  • Legion of Super-Heroes #38 - Jim Shooter's second issue in his return to the title, and it still remains fun and action-packed. His attempts at creating "future slang" in this issue grate a little, but I can live with them.

  • Army@Love #11 - It's nothing short of a miracle that this comic is still coming out, since it's witty and strange and satirical and adult and it's not easily pigeonholed. We're guaranteed at least 18 issues, I understand, but in a good and fair world, it would get a good Sandman or Preacher-length run.

  • Countdown to Mystery #5 - My favorite of the Countdown spin-offs, and contains a far better Spectre story than that Tales of the Unexpected mini. And the Dr. Fate story is absolutely prime Gerber...funny, cynical, and creepy, in just the right mix.

  • Jack Staff Special #1 - There is apparently some doubt out there that this was actually released. I assure you, I held this comic in my own hands. It exists. It's real. Trust me.

  • Gold Digger #92 - I've never had the foggiest idea about what's going on in this comic, but it's certainly been coming out for a long time, and its fans are quite loyal, and bless 'em all for it.

  • Hellblazer #240 - A new revelation about Constantine and his place in the world pops up in this issue, along the lines of Alan Moore's revelation about Swamp Thing way back when. (No, John isn't really just a plant.) Interesting, and I'll enjoy seeing what writer Andy Diggle does with it.

  • Little Lulu Vol. 18 - The Expert TP - Haven't even cracked the cover yet, and I already know this is going to be the best thing I'm going to read this week.

In other news, of the MST3K variety:

The Mystery Science Theatre 3000 DVD license has moved to Shout! Factory. They do promise more releases of previously unreleased episodes, but, you know, what else were they going to do? (C'mon c'mon c'mon Escape 2000!)

Also, Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie, previously only released in a barebones bargain-DVD from Image Entertainment (lacking even an "interactive menu"), is finally being reissued in a new barebones DVD release. Well, it apparently is going to include the trailer, and a new anamorphic widescreen transfer, and maybe even that interactive menu...but it's a shame that the deleted "host segment" scenes won't be included, as long as they're going through the trouble of putting the film back out.

From the "It's An Ill Wind..." department. 

Found on the eBay:

"LIMITED EDITION Heath Ledger Tribute Poster"

"This 20"x30" Full-Sized Limited Edition Heath Ledger Tribute Poster is designed to pay tribute to the Man and the Actor. Featuring an artistic rendition of Mr. Ledger himself and his latest role in Dark Knight as Joker, this Limited Edition Printing is certain to become a collectors favorite and be cherished for years to come."


"As the first non-American actor to portray the Joker, we pay tribute to Heath Ledger and this acting legacy.

"This Limited Edition Print is accompanied with an Authentic LE Certificate. This registered document contains your print set number and a Seal of Authenticity to verify that your print is NOT A REPRINT!"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

They might want to double-check the spelling of Davy's name on the tent. 

The copy in the lower left-hand corner reads:

"Double-barrelled, super-powered 2 cell
Davy Crockett flashlight...with red top
that glows when light is on!
Solid steel case, Ivory finish, with 2
color Davy Crockett illustration."

ads from A-1 #139 (1955)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Really, that is an awesome caricature of Steve Ditko. 

I personally own a total of four funnybooks published by Revolutionary Comics: two issues of Dennis Worden's Stickboy, and the above two books.

Now, I can understand why I bought Rock and Roll Comics #30 (July 1991), featuring the Cure. Beneath this punk rock/industrial exterior is a sensitive gothity-goth, bleak and moody. Well, okay, maybe not, but I've always liked the Cure (even saw them in concert a couple times), and when this comic came in, I thought, "eh, what the heck" and picked it up. As Rock and Roll Comics go, this one was okay, with the premise that Cure frontman Robert Smith has a near-death experience, and is taken on a tour of his life by Death. No idea how accurate it all is (by which I mean the biographical details, not the NDE), but the art's not bad, and it all has a sense of humor about it, which makes it go down nicely.

But this Contemporary Bio-Graphics #1 (Dec. 1991) -- I couldn't tell you why I bought this. Was I in that much of a need of an "unauthorized and proud of it" biography of Stan Lee? It's not nearly as polished, either in its art or its writing, as the Cure comic, with misspellings throughout, and going with an ugly font rather than hand-lettering, or even Comic Sans, was a mistake. But I suppose it's worth it for these two panels:

One, a young Stanley Leiber plays his flute (EDIT: yes, I know it looks like he's playing a clarinet, even though the caption in the panel says "flute"):

Two, this awesome caricature of Steve Ditko:

I'm pretty sure Steve Ditko didn't look like this (judging by the photo and self-portrait on steveditko.com). But if he doesn't look like that caricature, he really should.

I do have a Revolutionary Comics story...I was at some convention or other talking to one of the dealers, and apparently the fact that I worked in a comic shop had come up. Some fellow overheard and the subsequent conversation went like this:

Fellow: "Hey, you work in a comic book store?"

Me: "Yes, I do."

Fellow: "What do you think of Revolutionary Comics?"

Me: "Well, they sell okay, but they're kind of amateurish."

Fellow: "Uh...I draw for Revolutionary."

Me: "Um, wow, hey...how ya doin'."

And we uncomfortably parted ways. Well, you ask a question like that without introducing yourself, you should brace yourself for an answer you might not like. It's not like I was totally harsh on Revolutionary or anything, but I still felt kinda bad for insulting some guy I didn't have anything against. So if he's reading this...hey, sorry man, nothing personal.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Some store stuff. 

I'm not a gamer by any means, and though I've collected a few Heroclix figures of characters I've liked over the years, I've not been keeping up with them.

So when Employee Aaron showed me this Mirror Master piece:

...my first reaction was "is Wizkids cheaping out on their figures? Are they using cardboard standees on the dials now, instead of the plastic sculpts?" And then about 0.5 seconds later, I felt incredibly stupid because I realized "OH! He's in a mirror!"

I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, sometimes.

A few store sales notes:
  • Star Wars trade paperbacks are selling well - the books featuring the villains tend to move the quickest. The demand for anything featuring Darth Maul still remains high. Even the Episode I adaptation is selling well. All the prequel movie adaptations are selling well, for that matter.

  • Back issue demand for the "Sinestro Corps" Green Lantern event is still strong, and interest in GL continues to push good sales on new issues. The most recent post-Sinestro War issue of Green Lantern Corps has even gone to a second printing due to demand and, likely, reorder activity at Diamond, even though no more copies were to be had.

    People seem to like these smaller crossover series that restrict themselves to a single "family" of books, like Sinestro War and, on Marvel's side, the "Messiah Complex" series in the X-books. With the company-wide sprawling events, like "Civil War," folks bought all the books, but usually grudgingly. "Well, I better buy 'em so I know what's going on," that sort of thing. The smaller events seem to encourage a little more excitement and enthusiasm among my customers, without the slight amount of resentment at feeling "forced" to buy multiple tie-ins.

  • On the other hand, I'm getting plenty of requests for Countdown: Arena...I've had to reorder issues several times.

  • Oddly, the Roman Dirge hardcover It Ate Billy for Christmas is selling better now than it did at Christmastime. Go figure.

  • Every time a new Spawn comic shows up on the stands, I usually have a customer or three express surprise that it's still coming out, that McFarlane is even still bothering with the comics end of his toy empire. I wonder how much the funnybooks contribute to the overall financial intake of his business...about 0.000001%?

  • IDW's Angel: After the Fall series is moving well, with even the variants selling strongly.

    Speaking of Angel variants, here's one from a previous Angel series that we had floating around the store:

    AHHH! Too close, too close! (Though I understand that your mileage may vary.) This cover would fit right in with the vinyl sleeve heads (link via Poor Mojo).

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"How can you look up to a sexual bum like him?" 

From Flash #7 (Dec. 1987):

"I am perplexed and disappointed that this magazine contains so much sexual content. No, it is not blatant, graphic, or obscene. Just tasteless. [...] Wally's 'bed romping' is something I don't need to be let in on."

From Flash #9 (Feb. 1988):

I am very disturbed, even disgusted, that the fine attributes of the new Flash are being cheaped by the inclusion of exploitative sexual encounters. Not only is Wally West's [sic] exploiting the women he is so casually 'falling in love with,' but DC is exploiting its pubescent readers by tantalizing them with a 'hero's' sexual conquests of curvacious women.


"....If you are going to portray 'realism' rather than idealistic heroism [...] then you should also write about the broken hearts, despair, loneliness, anger of the women who feel 'used' when he leaves them behind after having his 'way with them.'"

From Flash #11 (Apr. 1988):

"I'm really peeved about Wally's one night stands, too. Don't you think he's gotten AIDS yet? Isn't he supposed to be a HERO, someone to look up to? How can you look up to a sexual bum like him? That's what he is - a gigolo!"

From Flash #12 (May 1988):

"Now that he [...] has his own book, Wally needs character. Instead of a heroic and intriguing person like, say, Batman, Wonder Woman, most of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and the Teen Titans, the powers that were turned Wally into an immoral, musical bed-playing adulterer.

"This is a personality I absolutely loathe: in life, on TV, and in books. Such a character uses his sex partners as objects and is unable to control his own urges. The term is gigolo, an unpaid whore. He deserves nothing more than a good, retributive come-uppance: like jail, death, disease, or emasculation."

Number of women Wally West has apparently been intimate with in the Flash series, as of issue #12:

1. Francine Kane (Wally's girlfriend at the beginning of the series, leaves in issue #3)

2. Tina McGee (introduced in issue #3)

Number of one-night stands presented in the Flash series, as of issue #12: EDIT: none apparently one, in the first Flash annual, which I still haven't found time to read. Still, that doesn't mean the above writers aren't overblowing things a tad.

Number of women apparently used by Wally as sexual objects, without regard for their feelings, as of issue #12: none (Francine's relationship with Wally seemed fairly normal, as superhero relationships go, and he and Tina, at this point in the series, are having some issues, but the two appear to be on equal footing...no one's being used as an "object")

In reference to Tina McGee...yes, she was a married woman, but separated from her abusive husband for quite some time. This is a little different situation from Wally waiting for the husband to leave the house so he could sneak in and have a little slap 'n' tickle with the wife. The fact that she was still married, legally, did cause some consternation for Wally, and the topic was brought up several times during the course of these early issues. So it's not as if any of the possible moral issues were ignored.

In other words, Wally wasn't speedin' around town, flashing from one bed to another and shtupping every gal he saw, which is what the above letter writers apparently thought he was doing. I don't know what comic they were reading, but it wasn't The Flash, where Wally went from one monogamous relationship, which had ended, to another monogamous relationship. Okay, the timing between the two was pretty tight (like, hours), but this is the Flash...like he's gonna take anything slow.

The problem these fans had was apparently that Wally was having any sex at all, which, I guess, compared to the relatively sexless Batman or Superman or Wonder Woman (but not Robin, the Randy Wonder), Mr. West looked like Mr. Manslut McSluttyslut.

Oh, and when Wally was trapped in another dimension during the Chunk storyline, one of the women who had been stuck there for a while tried to seduce him, and Wally nearly kissed her, but luckily there was some Flashus Interruptus and nothing came of it.

Another caveat: I haven't reread the first Flash annual yet, which came out during the first year of the series. If it's "The Flash's Sexy Adventures in the Land of Bikini Girls," I take it all back.

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