mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, February 09, 2008

So it's not an exact match. 

"...The odd, deep creases in the sides of his neck made him seem older when one did not study his dull, expressionless face."

"He had a narrow head, bulging, watery-blue eyes that seemed never to wink, a flat nose, a receding forehead and chin, and singularly undeveloped ears."

"...In places the surface seemed queerly irregular, as if peeling from some cutaneous disease."

"A certain greasiness about the fellow increased my dislike. He was evidently given to working or lounging around the fish docks, and carried with him much of their characteristic smell. Just what foreign blood was in him I could not even guess."

"...I could see why the people found him alien. I myself would have thought of biological degeneration rather than alienage."

(Text from The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft. Aqualad images from Teen Titans: Year One #2 by Amy Wolfram, Karl Kerschl, Serge Lapointe, and Steph Peru. Post suggested by Employee Aaron...blame him.)

Friday, February 08, 2008

If I actually show up in that costume, you have my permission to beat me senseless. 

Okay, enough of the '50s and '60s Batman comics. For now, anyway.

  • So what would Lost star Josh Holloway look like as DC Comics' Jonah Hex? Darned frightening, that's what he'd look like.

  • See, I did manage to sell a copy of Gene Simmons' Zipper. Okay, not at our store, but still...

  • I've seen a couple of links, here and there, to this article about Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonists contributing to a forthcoming issue of Mad Magazine. The bit of the article that gets me is near the end, where representatives of the mag claim the average age of its readers is 26 years old (median 19).

    My initial reading period of Mad was from when I was about 7 years old 'til I was about 11 or 12 years old, and I guess, because of that, I'd assumed that's about the same period most kids discover and read Mad, and thus made up the bulk of its readership. I suppose nowadays there a lot more folks like me in their readership, who read Mad as a kid, and just (relatively) recently started picking it up again, and not as many people getting exposed to it, and picking it up, at an early age.

    Or maybe it was always something older kids read, and much younger kids (like I was, once, centuries ago) were the exception. I really don't know.

  • If you happen to be in Santa Rosa, CA this coming Saturday, why not drop by the Schulz Museum and say "howdy" to pal Nat, who'll be the Cartoonist in Residence for that day. Check that second link for details.

  • Apparently there was yet another discussion about lightsabers vs. Superman, and a commenter there with a long memory linked back to my post about finding a fantastic message board discussion on the topic. (Or, rather, a "Jedi Vs. Superman" discussion, which, inevitably, brought us to the brilliance of the "Kryptonite lightsaber.") After the debate continues in the comments, someone worries "you're really trying to get Mike Sterling to laugh at us," but he needn't worry. At this point, there's nothing left but tears.

    I'm reminded, in a way, of a minor plot aside in an episode of (I believe) Angel, where two characters go on and on arguing about who would win in a fight...cavemen or astronauts. This apparently was based on real behind-the-scenes activity on the show, where that topic was brought up, decried as being "a really stupid thing to talk about," and yet, the concept wormed its way into everyone's head, and everyone suddenly had a strong argument for their position, pro-astronaut or pro-caveman.

    I think "Superman Vs. Jedi" has the potential to be another one of these mind-grabbers. Something you don't want to have an opinion on, but sooner or later...you will.

    And if you have to discuss it on my site, for God's sake, continue in the comments section for my original post.

  • Dafna at the Bispectacult recently posted a Youtube video featuring a musical adaptation of a Jack Chick religious tract. It's not too much different from the actual comic.

  • Employee Aaron (looking through the preview copy of Millar and Hitch's Fantastic Four comic...due out next week, effendi!): "So, what's the big deal about this comic again?"

    Me: "It has a lot of splash pages."

    Aaron: "Oh."

  • Happy Blogiversary to my Blogging Neighbor only about 45 minutes north of me...Carla at Snap Judgments!

  • Tim O'Neil comments on a couple of recent quiet moments in superhero books.

  • Ken has a few words about super-fans (i.e. the ones who lack any sense of perspective and self-awareness, not people like me or you, my fine, upstanding, intelligent, Mike's-Amazon.com-link-using readers), and Bitterandrew also has a few allegory-tastic words along those same lines.

  • At the shop, I mentioned in passing that I may -- may -- be going to the Los Angeles Wizard World convention in March, and a customer asked if I'd be going in costume. I replied "Yes...I'll be dressed as a Klingon who's dressed as a Stormtrooper."

    Employee Aaron was apparently amused enough by this concept to knock out a quickie preliminary sketch:

    I really need to give that boy more to do at the store.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

At some point in your life, you will find yourself needing these exact same things... 

...so be prepared:

from Batman #160 (Dec. 1963)

"It's made of two baseballs and some fishing tackle!" 







(from Batman #125, Aug. 1959)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

"Teacher from the Stars!" (from Batman #137, Feb. 1961) 

After encountering a group of alien creatures wandering around Gotham City and causing disturbances, Batman and Robin try to get to the bottom of things:

Blish is apparently under the assumption that Batman is to give his class a tour of the city. Batman's not sure why, but he plays along just to keep an eye on these beings, in case there's more trouble.

And that was a good idea, it seems, as the students continue to make mischief. Assorted pranks follow, including this rather spectacular example:

The extraterrestrial student's "Virgil Partch Ray" terrifies the populace:

...And finally gets on Blish's last nerve:

After gathering the kids, a little Bat-spanking justice is applied:

Having learned their lesson, the three students decide to help out when they witness a bank robbery in progress:

However, they bypass the bandits and lay an alien whammy on the boys in blue:

Batman's had enough, and he's on the verge of kicking all their asses off the planet when Blish comes to a sudden realization:

Things apparently work a little differently there on that other planet, which not only explains why the kids protected the bank robbers, but why they assumed Batman was their tour guide:

Sounds a little convenient, but that's okay, I guess.

The class finally departs, leaving behind a token of their appreciation for their caped and crusading friends:

Now that's a trophy that needs to be put back on display in the modern-day Batcave. Forget about showcases containing costumes of minor supporting characters....we need to petition DC editorial for more photos of Batman's alien pals decorating the place. There's an effort I can get behind.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

All aboard the S.S. Batman! (from Batman #133, Aug. 1960) 

It's the most unique sailing ship on the seven seas...the S.S. Batman!

Only one man can pilot this ship, and that man is Captain Batman:

The people rejoice at the coming of the S.S. Batman:

Please note Robin's presence in the "Bat's Nest," oddly never referred to as such in the narrative, though the gag seems plainly obvious.

A replica of the Batcave is squeezed below deck, somewhere:

The guy shouting "gosh, it's just like the real Batcave" -- either he's the annoying know-it-all in this crowd, or he's dealing with a Batman who's a heck of a lot less secretive than his modern "Mr. Urban Legend" counterpart. I'm picturing photo spreads in Look, after taking the photographer there blindfolded, so he wouldn't know the cave's location.

Much of Batman and Robin's crime-stopping equipment is on display as well, such as their crime lab:

Now, are those prop file cabinets, or are they actually filled with copies of their crime files? I'm guessing the latter...DC superheroes, particularly about this time, were pretty obsessive about that level of detail.

Look out, S.S. Batman! There's an unwelcome guest aboard!

Turns out that "Batman" is actually part of the S.S. Batman's high tech security system:

So long, S.S. Batman! We may never see the likes of you again!

From the letters page of this issue, a type of missive that the Bat-editors probably don't see a whole lot of nowadays:

Oh, I'd give almost anything for a return to the "Batman's Time Travel Crimes on Venus" era of Bat-comics.

Monday, February 04, 2008

More racial sensitivity in comic books, selling out, shameless shilling, on becoming a tool for big media, and the menace of Arcane's hair. 

From Detective Comics #355 (Sept. 1966):

Man, our Native American friends are always getting it in the shorts thanks to our old funnybooks. I'd like to think that, maybe, the comic is commenting on the short-sighted, stereotyping attitudes of some of the wrestling match's audience members, but since the story also gives the Arizona Apache an "AIEEEEE" battle cry, well....

On the other hand, maybe it's a subtle criticism of the usage of stereotypes within, not just the world of pro wrestling, but entertainment in general, which is a layer of metatext too great for some dumb mid-'60s Batman comic (which clearly just used these clich├ęs to sell the character's Indian-ness) to support without collapsing into a black hole of overanalysis.

Didn't stop me from trying, though, did it? Sigh...such is the burden of the comics blogger.

In other news:
  • I mentioned it here, and I gotta tell you, after the weekend, we're down to one copy of Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters. Okay, we didn't start with too many to begin with, but that we still managed to move copies of this book is just mildly stunning.

  • Also following up on that Wednesday post of mine, we sold through all our Captain America #34s, but solely to our regular comic buyers. In our area, at least, all that real world coverage just preached to the converted, if it influenced them at all. So it did sell a little better than normal, just not "crazy better" like the "death" issue did. So, basically, it sold like we thought it would.

    I've noticed that some of the real world coverage is still rolling out, here and there, so I suppose there's still the possibility of a new customer or two curious enough about this here new Cap fella to make it to the shop and inquire after copies. 'Course, they'll have to wait until the "variant cover" 2nd printing, or the dreaded "Director's Cut," if they're still interested.

  • With that Project Superpowers #0 priced at a buck, people are a little more willing to buy two copies in order to get both halves of that Alex Ross connecting cover (pictured at the top left right here. It would have been nice to have one wraparound cover instead, however.

  • If I may direct your attention to the sidebar for a little shameless shilling, I'd like to point out that due this week is the animated Turok Son of Stone DVD...I've only seen this trailer, which makes it look like it's sticking, more or less, with the original concept of the character, and none of the sci-fi "dinos with guns" trappings tacked on later. Well, maybe with a lot more blood, but close enough. No idea if it's any good, but thought some of you would like to know that it'll be unleashed this Tuesday.

    Also, I missed that the new Ms. Tree novel Deadly Beloved and the latest Wild Cards novel Inside Straight have been released. So, I thought I'd pass that info along (as well as Amazon store sidebar links, nudge wink) in case any of you missed that, too.

  • So at the store, we regularly get free merchadise bags from a promotional company that produces said bags advertising various movies and TV shows. We've had Torchwood bags, and South Park bags, and, currently, we have a bunch of bags advertising the Terminator TV show. The box they came in was getting a little ratty, so I decided to move our stock of these things into a new container...and in the process, I found this little doodad, packed in among the plastic sacks:

    It was a little Terminator flashlight keychain, which I thought was kind of a neat thing, so I threw it in my pocket and continued the repacking of the bags.

    When I got home later that evening, the porch of my house was pretty dark, and I remembered that I had the flashlight on my person. Instead of briefly fumbling with the keys, trying to get the right one into the keyhole, I thought I'd save myself that one whole extra second and shed a little light on the matter. And I was surprised to see this:

    I though it was just a plain ol' flashlight, but it instead projects an ad for the show. That pic's a little blurry, but you can see the Terminator skull and the logo. Cool!

    I know, it doesn't take much to amuse me. Also, it hasn't inspired me to start watching the show, so I guess as a TV show promoter, it makes a good dark porch illuminator.

  • For those of you that were wondering, and I bet you were...my copy of the Swamp Thing TV show DVD set came in the mail a couple days ago, containing two full seasons of wonder and beauty. Well, okay, actually it just contains the Swamp Thing TV show. There are a couple special features, interviews with the character's co-creator Len Wein, and with the actor under the rubber swamp outfit, Dick Durock.

    I only just started watching the episodes themselves, and I'd forgotten just how...metallic and gravelly, if you get my meaning, Swamp Thing's voice sounded on this show. Also, I have lots and lots of footage of Arcane's Dennis Miller-esque hairdo to look forward to.

    I hadn't seen the show in years, and for some reason, my brief exposures to the show left me with the impression that there were lots of shots of Swampy standing in bushes, behind walls, etc., all to save the cost of having to get poor Mr. Durock in the full get-up. I guess I'll be seeing if that impression was true.

    And remember, kids...do not bring your evil here, or face...


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Sunday, February 03, 2008

"Pointy, fleshy Bat-ears." 

The "ape" half of DC Comics' Angel and the Ape, Sam Simeon, was a cartoonist when he wasn't helping Angel in her detective work. As a filler page in issue #6 of their series (Sept/Oct 1969), an alleged sample of Simeon's work was presented:

Reminds me a little of this issue of Batman (#294, Dec. 1977):

But Sam's version has the little pointy, fleshy Bat-ears, which makes me a tad queasy, frankly.

The logo for Sam's cartoon is also oddly disturbing:

Giant hairy letters with paws moving of their own accord. Please enjoy this nightmare fuel.

Special programming note: Dafna and Kid Chris have a new Bispectacult comics podcast up for your enjoyment. It's an hour's worth of silliness, and it's free! Free Tell them Mike sent you.

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