Saturday, February 02, 2008
So I am to understand that a person by the name of Sluggo may have been here at some point in the recent past?
from Four Color #1034 (Sept-Nov 1959)
1. If you're gonna name your cabinet the "Cooky Cabinet," you're just asking for trouble. Okay, even if your name's "Cooky" because you're, you know, the cook, any kid poking around in the camp kitchen is gonna see that and go lookin' for cookies.
1a. Then again, the "Cooky Cabinet" could mean that, within its confines, things are completely kooky and wacky and crazy. I mean, don't you wish you had a Cooky Cabinet like that in your house, that you could reach into at any time when the situation demands it?
2. I don't even want to know how Sluggo was distracting Camp Director Mr. Simply so that he could write "Sluggo Was Here" across Simply's knees.
3. Speaking of those knees, let us consider this image:
Either Sluggo's lettering is defying physics, or Sluggo used his expert lettering technique to create foreshortened and otherwise distorted writing to make the lettering appear as normal from this angle, even as it goes around the natural curves of the legs. Like, if you were to look at, say, that "G" from the side, it would look all stretched out, but from where we readers are looking, it looks like a standard "G."
Or maybe Mr. Simply's flabby leg-flesh just slammed together into a flat and clammy wall upon which Sluggo could make his mark.
Or maybe, while Mr. Simply was distracted, Sluggo wrapped Simply's knees in cellophane, and....
...Okay, I'll stop.
Friday, February 01, 2008
"You sure that's not Wonder Woman?" "No, no...I'm pretty sure that's Batman."
Here's something I should have mentioned in yesterday's "End of Civilization" post:
"I Think It's Batman" strikes me as bit of an odd name for this shirt, if the one they're offering is in fact the image shown there. Well, it's a guy dressed as Batman, behind a giant logo that reads "Batman" -- I'm reasonably certain that is, indeed, Batman. Unless it's some guy other than Bruce Wayne just dressed up as Batman, which would be a weird thing to put on a shirt.
Also, the other day we received our copy of Dave Sim's newest comic Glamourpuss:
Complete with personalized message and autograph...here's the message:
I've given this a read-through and...well, it's certainly not like any comic I've read before. It's part Dave discussing art of past comic masters like Alex Raymond, part exploring how and why he's following his Cerebus epic with a comic about fashion, and part brief introduction to the fictional narrative, following the internal reflections of fashion model N'atashae, along with a couple parodies of fashion-mag type columns/articles. It certainly keeps your attention, even as you're trying to grasp just where Dave plans on going with this.
For another review, here's one I found through Mr. Spurgeon where the fellow worked off his memories of reading a preview copy at his shop, since the store wouldn't let him take it home. I have the comic right here in front of me as I'm typing this, and I don't think I'm able to do better than this person's review. Unlike that reviewer, however, I am sufficiently intrigued to see what's gonna happen in #2. Even if it's more of this unusual mix of personal observation/reflection, art history, and an ongoing fashion narrative, rather than traditional funnybooking, it's unique and interesting enough to bring me back.
In other news:
For no good reason, other than I've been looking for an online copy of this for quite a while, and, at last, here it is...the Conan O'Brien "Lincoln Money Shot" bit.
Not Safe for Work, likely, and Not Respectful to Lincoln in the slightest, but boy, it makes me laugh:
I'm terribly, terribly sorry...by which I mean, "not sorry at all."
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Progressive Ruin presents...the End of Civilization.
Here you go...the 36th monthly installment of the End of Civilization! Yes, that's right, I've been doing this catalog round-up for three years, kids...staying up late nights the day the Previews arrives, foregoing sleep and putting off reading my new funnybooks, just to do this. Why? Because I'm a masochist, that's why. I thought you knew that.
Anyway, whip out your February 2008 Previews and follow along...by the way, when I say that, do any of you actually follow along in your Previews?
Well, here you go. Let the carnage begin:
p. 176-7 - Spawn: Age of Pharaohs:
That would be Warrior Isis, the Only Figure That's Gonna Sell from This Set. Well, okay, maybe Sebek (as he's called in the catalog...he's called "The Crocodile King" on the website) will, too.
p. 182 - Witchblade/Devi #1:
Now, I'm not a regular reader of Virgin Comics' Devi or anything, but it seems to me she usually wears slightly more clothing than that, at least judging by the covers. If I'm wrong, let me know...but if I'm not, see what teaming up with Witchblade does to you?
p. 187 - Wanted Graphic Novel (New Printing!):
It says "Soon to be a major motion picture" in the ad, but the only movie called Wanted I can find is this one, and it doesn't look a darn thing like this comic. Is there another movie called Wanted in the works?
(Note: That would be "sarcasm.")
p. 197 - Wizard Exclusive Marvel Zombies Spider-Man Bust:
You know, there are a bunch of Walking Dead zombie statues later in the catalog...I'd imagine having those on display throughout the house would raise far fewer questions than having this thing glaring at you from the china cabinet.
p. 282 - The Silence of the Lambs Minimates:
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, given the rather wide range of licenses that have appeared in Minimate form. But given their prediliction for variant figures, look out of the Pantless 'n' Tucked Dancing Buffalo Bill Minimate.
p. 403 - Iron Man Teen Novelization MMPB:
That there has to be a special "teen" edition of the book based on the Iron Man movie, a Hollywood action movie (traditionally not the most intellectually-challenging of entertainments) based on a Marvel superhero comic book...honestly, I don't know how much more dumbed down it can get. Maybe the word "shit" appears in the "adult" novelization, and goodness knows no teenager has ever heard the word "shit" before, so we'd better put out a special version of the book for them. (Or, more likely, to keep their parents from complaining that they found a dirty word in a superhero book their precious snowflake was reading.)
Just to go off on a slight tangent here...honestly, "shit" barely even counts as a swear word any more. It's not any worse than "damn" or "hell." And every English speaking person on the planet says it. And plenty of non-English speaking people say it, too. And the people who say they don't say it really say it far more than you do, just not where anyone can hear them. It's used so much it can't possibly have any kind of impact, any more. Plus, it's Comics Code-approved.
So, "shit." Say it to your teacher during class. Drop it into conversation with Grandma. Spice up the hymnal a little. And if anyone complains, just let them know your special internet friend pal Dorian said it was okay!
p. 430 - Batman/Superman Foiled Duct Tape Symbol Grey T-shirts:
I don't even know what to say about this. "Hi, I look like the upholstery in my college roommate's 20-year-old Datsun 280Z!"
p. 431 - T-shirts:
"Say, do you have anything that combines an ancient video game with a movie that was sorta popular last year?"
"Why, yes, I do...I have this stylish 'This Is Zeldaaa' shirt that combines 300 with the Legend of Zelda:"
"Ah, and do you also have a shirt that lets people know that I can't tell when fads are on their way out?"
"Well, I'm out of my 'Underwear Perverts' shirts, but I do have this snazzy 'Zombie Crossing' number."
"Oh, I hope it's a black t-shirt!"
"Today is your lucky day, friend:"
"Okay, now I need something to let women know I'm an absolute pig undeserving of the touch of the fairer sex."
"Here's just the thing....the 'Girls Gone Wild Camera Crew' t-shirt, guaranteed to enforce that celibacy:"
"Wrap 'em up...I'll take 'em! And make it snappy...I've got a hot date tonight!"
"No, you don't."
"Sigh. No, I don't."
p. 440 - Tonner "Justice Protector" Wonder Woman Previews Exclusive Doll:
Well, I guess it's kinda Wonder Woman-ish. And is that a bird on her head?
p. 453-4: Star Trek "Amok Time" Action Figure 2-pack:
Oh, look, Kirk's pecs are smiling at you!
If this set doesn't come with a sound chip that plays the time-honored Star Trek "fight music," then mister, color me uninterested.
In fact, let's have a little taste of "Amok Time," complete with said music:
Ahhhh...that's good Trekkin'.
p. 468 - Lord of the Rings: Dark Galadriel Mini-Bust:
Okay, I'd ordinarily not bother with the LOTR busts, since they're been scraping the bottom of the barrel for a while now...it's only a matter of time before we're back to Gandalf statues that can hold your, ahem, "incense." But, according to the full-page ad for this bust two pages later...THIS BUST LIGHTS UP. That's just the right amount of "tacky" to gain my admiration.
p. 474 - Lord of the Rings Balrog Monument:
And they ain't yankin' your chain about "monument" -- 48 inches long, 40 inches high, 26 inches deep, and PURE FREAKING EVIL:
Dropping the required $2000 on this item will cement your reputation as the neighborhood Satanist. I mean, look at that thing. Holy freakin' cow.
p. 486 - Dr. Hofmann Glow-in-Dark Edition 8-Inch Toyer Qee:
This is just such a weird conglomeration of pop culture elements that I had to note it. Nothing weird to say about it...just, you know, let it sink in a little. Stare at it. Let it occupy your thoughts.
p. 500 - Doctor Who The Face of Boe 5-inch Figure:
If it's just a face, does it really count as a figure?
I think the Face of Boe would have made a good Boglin toy.
p. 517 - Kit Rae Black Legion Battle Axe:
It's described as having a "false-edged finish," but I think that'd be small comfort if that thing's swinging your way, false edge or not. That's a beheading waiting to happen.
p. 549 - Comic Book Pencilling with Stephen Platt:
"...Comic illustrator Stephen Platt [Moon Knight] covers how to create a fully pencilled page from beginning to end. [...] In addition, he discusses industry conventions as well as advice on portfolios and earning a living in professional comics."
Weren't those Moon Knights 15 years ago? I know he did Prophet and Soul Saga, too, but I don't know that he's done any comic book work in recent years. I was just surprised to see his name, after all this time, and on a $49 instructional DVD. Certainly wasn't inspecting that.
p. 549 - DC Comics 52 Audio CDS:
"DC Comics' epic comic book mini-series, 52, is brought to life with this pulse-pounding, multicast 'Movie in your Mind' audiobook featuring professional actors, scoring, and digital effects!"
Okay, I shouldn't buy these, but I want to. One of you out there needs to stop me...before it's too late. But then again, maybe it'll provide inspiration for my forthcoming amateur stage production of "Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man." "His webline" -- dramatic pause -- "advantageous!"
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Sometimes I'm a tad testy.
Due out today in your finer funnybook establishments:
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
In which I go on too long about Doctor Who.
I had a couple questions in my comments sections recently that I thought I'd address in the main body of the site, rather than just have 'em languish in the Haloscan archives, unseen by God and Google.
First off, commenter Dario asks:
"Hey Mike, it's been a while since you blogged about Superman... any thoughts on Busiek's run?"
I've been quite enjoying Kurt Busiek's run on Superman...his stories remind me, in a way I can't precisely define, of the Cary Bates and Elliot S! Maggin stories I grew up on in the '70s and '80s. They're straightforward, the characters are all clearly defined, the stakes in each story are solidly established...they're just plain fun, serious enough without being too serious. And they're not bogged down by excessive subplotting, which I appreciate. For most of the post-1980s revamp era of Superman, it felt like each issue had to split time between whatever this month's A-plot was, and the B, C, D, and E-plots that continued from issue to issue, establishing the serial nature of the Super-books. Now that Superman doesn't have to cross over with three or four other Super-books a month, we can get stories with beginnings, middles, and ends, with little subplot noodling gumming up the works.
So there's not really a whole lot I can say about Busiek's run, other than he's writing good Superman comics that I've been enjoying. If you all need a sample, try the Up, Up, and Away trade paperback (co-written with Geoff Johns). It features a depowered Superman (from the events in Infinite Crisis) slowly regaining his powers, the threat of Lex Luthor, and a nice portrayal of Clark and Lois' married life...which goes to show you that some comic creators know how to handle a married superhero. Pete Woods and Renato Guedes provide the clean, attractive artwork, which of course isn't on the cover of the paperback. Ah, well.
Normally I don't post Amazon links to comics...I want you to buy them from me, me, but if a bunch of you want this book all at the same time, I don't have enough on hand to fill lots of orders, so here's that Amazon link below. And if you like that book, the rest of the Busiek run has been just as good.
Commenter Chris had this to say:
"Are you watching Torchwood? I'm not sure if you have written about Doctor Who stuff before [...] but I would be interested to read your take on the series and related shows."
Well, it's not as if it's really off-topic or anything, since God knows I've gone on about Star Trek and Star Wars on this site. But I'm more of a casual Dr. Who fan...pal Dorian is the big Whovian in my circle of roustabouts and ne'er-do-wells, but I've been following the latest iteration of the Doctor's TV series via the DVD releases. I've not seen minute one of Torchwood, but I imagine I'll probably give it a go via the Netflix (and in fact, I just now added it to my queue, so long as I'm thinking about it, and the first disc has "a very long wait" - sigh).
Doctor Who is just one of those things I feel like I've always known about...I can't remember a moment in my childhood where I said, "Huh, wonder what this Doctor Who thing is." It just seems like I've known the basics of the character, even without being a particular fan of the show, much in the same way I feel like I've always known that Superman was from Krypton, and Kirk was the Federation's most badass captain, and so on. It's like nerd instinctual memory. But for Doctor Who, I do remember catching glimpses of the TV show on public television here and there, but I never sat down and watched an episode straight through. When I was a young teen, some U.S. publisher or 'nother started releasing a whole bunch of Who novels, and I read more of those things than was probably healthy. But, I was (and still am) a voracious, and fast, reader, and those Who books were about as thick as a CD case, so it didn't take long to read a lot of them. And that's where my knowledge of the character(s) comes from...not the TV show, but the tie-in novels. And somewhere, a Who fan is crying out in pain at this revelation.
But, aside from that brief obsession with the novels (which I probably read since the Star Trek books didn't come out fast enough), I didn't go out of my way to pursue Doctor Who material. Over the years, I'd catch articles in Starlog (which is how I found it was a really big deal for Peter Davison to be taking over the role from Tom Baker) or glimpses of the occasional episode on TV...and once I started doing the funnybook selling thing, I had the comics around, too, though I wasn't a reader. "Oh, I guess the Cybermen are some of the Doctor's enemies." Basically, I'm telling you that even without being a huge fan of the character, I more or less knew what he was about, what his backstory was, who some of his bad guys were, etc.
Prior to the beginning of the newest incarnation of the show, my last major exposures to the world of the Doctor were:
1. The Curse of Fatal Death, a comedic take on the character with Rowan Atkinson in the title role. I went searching for this particular video, not because of the Who connection, but because by this point I'd just mainlined four seasons of Black Adder and wanted more Rowan.
2. That made-for-TV movie, giving us the filmed adventure of the Eighth Doctor. Don't remember a whole lot about it, though I seem to recall liking it well enough.
When the new show started...well, it seemed like most people I knew were downloading the BBC broadcasts via torrents and watching it that way, rather than waiting for the Sci Fi Channel to broadcast the shows several months later (and if I recall correctly, there was some worry whether the new show would ever get broadcast in the U.S.). Even when it started airing on Sci Fi, I didn't bother watching it, primarily out of my desire to not get beholden to yet another TV series. But, once they made it to DVD, that's when I began to watch them.
Overall, I do enjoy the series...it's not deep or meaningful, but it is clever and fun, with some sharp dialogue and strong acting that can help sell some of the more ludicrous events, and doesn't have to worry about selling the low-budget effects. Tom Baker had to convince the viewers that the cardboard 'n' rubber thingie suspended by wires and wrapped in green bubblewrap posed some kind of threat. That's not so much a problem any more...now all they have to do is convince folks that the Weakest Link parody is a serious danger, which may be as difficult a job, if not more so.
The lead actors have done wonderful jobs on the show...Christopher Eccleston as the ninth Doctor was lean and angry, quite a contrast from the Tom Baker version that tends to dominate the perception of the character (though Baker's Doctor had his angry moments, too). When David Tennant took over the role, I wasn't quite sure, having gotten used to Eccleston's portrayal...but he quickly won me over with a Doctor that was just slightly more round-the-bend, while maintaining that undercurrent of anger and...disconnect that has characterized the Doctor in these newest shows. Maybe I'm just reading too much into the performance, but Tennant's Doctor feels a little more alien to me...there's the occasional expression, or pose, or look in his eye that tells you "this isn't a normal person." Which is good, since the Doctor isn't a normal person, and the occasional reminder that this character is not a human being, and is dangerous to be around, is what gives Doctor Who that additional level of gravitas that keeps it from being just another sci-fi superhero fightin' the aliens-of-the-week.
Plus, if there's a more terrifying hour (well, forty minutes) of television than the Who episode "Blink," I don't want to see it.
And it's got me watching some of the classic Who adventures via Netflix. Man, that Davros...what a card!
And I promise, I'll get around to watching Torchwood. I understand it has a lot of the sexy in it. And who doesn't like the sexy?
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sometimes you just need a picture of Cable leaping at you, guns blazing.
He's shoutin' at Magneto, in case you're wondering.
And here, also for no good reason, is a shot of the cast from the first page of this comic:
There's a happy bunch, he said sarcastically. Well, okay, Boomer's smiling behind those "I just had an eye exam" shades. And Sunspot might be smirking a bit. But the rest of those folks look like a bunch of poutypants. And if my name were "Rictor," I'd pout, too.
Anyway, these images are from X-Force #25 (August '93), a comic I've discussed before, and you can read that pulse-pounding story, featuring Canadians and toilet paper, right here. But at the moment, I have a stack of funnybooks I'm processing for sale in our eBay store, and one of them happens to be a copy of X-Force #25 from one of those companies that offered autographed copies (with "certificate of authenticity") directly to retailers for premium prices.
This particular comic is signed by artist Greg Capullo, and is numbered 5903 out of 7,500 copies. I always try to picture what that's like, the poor guy with 25 or 30 cases of these comics crammed into his studio, spending hours each day slapping his signature on comic after comic. I wonder how many copies end up getting spoiled, with accidental smudging of the ink, spilled drinks, pet cats, or maybe the signature just gets mangled as it's being written...distracted by a phone call, or just had a brain fart, or something. And then someone has to come along and number each cover "n/7500," which is probably an even bigger drag.
At this point in comics history, the early '90s (just after "The Comics Boom," and just before "The Burning Times"), "insta-collectibles" were the big thing, so pre-autographed books were (and still are, actually) a common sight in the order forms. We ordered some, here and there...didn't carry a huge stock of them, but occasionally we'd get some that we thought might do okay in our shop.
Now there a number of X-comics in mid '93 that were extra-sized tie-ins to the "Fatal Attractions" X-crossover, each with a trading-card sized hologram affixed to the cover. That signed-comic company offered autographed editions of all these oversized "Fatal Attractions" comics, and we thought "Hey, kids like the X-Men...they like autographed books...they like the holy-grams...let's give these a shot." There were $24.95 a pop, but these were special X-books, after all...they were certain to sell. And given the kinds of things people were buying at the time, a $24.95 autographed edition of a popular comic book series seemed like an easy sale.
Fifteen years later, I still have two of these "Fatal Attractions" books left (the other being X-Factor #92, signed by Joe Quesada). The other three I've managed to sell on the eBay at vastly reduced prices in recent years. I'm not so anxious to move the last two for too cheap, so I'll ponder some kind of price I can live with and put 'em in the eBay store.
In our brick and mortar store, the unsigned "Fatal Attractions" tie-ins remain popular, particularly the Wolverine issue. But the signed ones? Nah, too expensive, and probably should have dropped the prices sooner on them...but just never seemed to get around to it. Seemed like there was always something more important to do, and those last two comics managed to avoid my attention. Until now, when hopefully someone online will be willing to pay the price I want.
Nowadays the only "pre-signed" comics we get today are the "incentive" ones, that show up if we hit certain ordering plateaus. And, of course, any that our customers asked for (like that $70 signed Dark Tower hardcover we got in -- good gravy!).
The moral of the story? "Collectibles aren't," maybe, or "Don't order overpriced pre-signed X-Men books," which may be unnecessarily limiting. But I'm sure we learned something here at the funnybook shop from these signed comics, even if it's just "thank goodness for online auctions, (theoretically) clearing out our dead stock."
Sunday, January 27, 2008
"Why suffer the mortification of foul smelling bedrooms...?"
excerpts from comic book ad, 1953
1. I once heard that you can tell what a publisher thinks of the readers of certain magazines by the kind of ads they run there. Just sayin'.
2. When I showed this ad to pal Dorian, he immediately noted the quotation marks in the ad's header and asked "I wonder what 'bed wetting' is a euphemism for?"
3. Most of the folks in the "case studies" section seem relatively pleased to be there...which is only natural, since DRY-TABS apparently solved their problems. But Case #2 appears to be showing the proper amount of shame, and Grandma in Case #6 just makes me feel sadness and pity. "Please don't leave me out in the woods...I promise I'll stop!"
4. You know, if you're a kid, and you're suffering from a little late night liquid leakage, well, URINE LUCK! Ha ha! No, seriously, if you've got troubles with wee hours weeing, seeing the phrase "if your loved ones suffer the humiliation, the disgrace, insecurity and helplessness" doesn't help -- there's "pointing out a problem," and then there's piling on. I'm sure the kid (or Grandma) feels bad enough without having to bring "YOU'RE SHAMING YOUR FAMILY AND FILLING THEM WITH DISGUST -- why aren't you dead?" into it.