mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, March 01, 2008

"I like the Green Lantern Corps but I think you should add Zatanna." 

I wonder if that person's posting on message boards now. But dude, honestly, he ripped a page out of a Green Lantern comic, wrote his missive on it, and mailed it in. That's...that's something else, really, but I bet that sort of thing wasn't all that uncommon. At least it wasn't, you know, part of a dead animal or anything sticky.

That letter was from Green Lantern #167 (Aug '83), and at that point, editor Ernie Colon was doing his best to, if not run, at least mention every letter that came in to the Green Lantern office. Which meant dealing with the occasional person whose power ring wasn't fully charged, of course, but that also meant running nice, simple, and sincere letters from children:

Even a jaded old grumpypants like myself can appreciate the enthusiastic innocence present here, as well as Colon's friendly and amusing response (that Zatanna is "too busy" -- sorry, kid, she's all booked up at the moment). It also seems that young Mr. "K. S., Age 11" was at just the right age to begin realizing that there ain't no comic that can't be improved by an appearance by Zatanna:

Though looking at the letter again...at the time, the Green Lantern Corps comprised the back-up stories in the book, so I assumed that K.S. meant that he wanted to have Zatanna stories as back-ups instead.

But...what if...what if...he actually meant that he wanted Zatanna to join the Green Lantern Corps? To borrow a Chris Sims-ism: great idea, or greatest idea?

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Ides of Mike. 

I've been kinda sorta occupied lately, reducing my time to post big and mighty like strong warrior on this here weblog, though I made some space in the schedule (i.e. got fewer hours of sleep) to get the End of Civilization out on time. Yeah, I know, boo hoo, poor Mikester had trouble finding time to goof off on the internet.

The tragedy is even greater, he said half-sarcastically, since I barely found time to read any of this week's new funnybooks. Unread new funnybooks, with more than 24 hours having passed since their arrival? Oh, the nerdity! But, you know, I figure I've waited six months, more or less, to read Nexus #100, what's another day or two?

But by God, I made sure I read All Star Batman and Robin #9. Is there a more beautiful comic? (The answer is "no, there is no more beautiful comic than All Star Batman and Robin," in case you were wondering.)

In other news:
  • For my money, of which I have none but go with me here, there may be no wiser commentator on the state of comics, comics fans, and the comics industry than this man. He brings a dose of levelheadedness, reality, and, well, adulthood, to a world too often dominated by hysterics, hyperbole, straw men arguments, and just plain lack of knowledge about the very things these alleged commentators are most passionate about.

    This post, in particular, very neatly dissects some recent fanboy hoohar in entertaining, and enlightening, fashion.

  • So Graeme on the Newsarama blog noted a message from Mark Millar about his new Marvel comic Kick-Ass, who was worried that the book would do poorly due to a lack of customer awareness, as "we have no Marvel marketing machine behind us here."

    Here's the thing. If your comic is getting published by Marvel Comics, "buyer awareness" isn't an issue. Being published by Marvel is having the Marvel marketing machine behind you. Sure, if you're being published by A Very Small Comic Book Company Run Out of the Garage, Ltd., you're buried in the back pages of Previews, and trying to get comic fans to be aware of your book is a challenge. But at Marvel...like Kevin said, you're getting plenty of push from Marvel, not to mention comics news site mentions (like, oh, say, that very post on Blog@Newsarama), and, if you're Millar, your own highly-trafficked website. And, since Millar just came off writing a best-selling mini-series event for Marvel, an event that impacted pretty much every title Marvel publishes, it's not as if he's some unknown quantity. He's a Big Name Comics Writer at the moment, so anything he works on is going to attract some amount of attention. Particularly if it's coming from Marvel.

    So, in short, if your Marvel comic doesn't sell, it's not going to be because no one's aware of it. It'll be because no one wants it.

    However, Mr. Millar will be glad to know that our customers apparently do want it, because we've already sold through all our copies. So stop bellyaching, you old worrywart. And get Marvel to do a second printing on this comic, instead of second printings on comics that don't need 'em.

  • Kevin Church has apparently invented the 48-hour day, as he's begun yet another blog project for himself. At least this time he's gone the group blog route to lighten his load a tad. Go, visit, be appalled.

  • My visit to Wizard World Los Angeles next month appears to be a "go," so if you're in the L.A. area on March 15th, and you've been waiting for your chance to find me and beat me up, that'll be your big day. "Et tu, Progressive Ruin reader?"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Progressive Ruin Presents...the End of Civilization. 

Once more unto the breach, my friends, as we plow together through another Diamond Previews catalog. Pull out your copy of the March 2008 edition, pour yourself a frosty drink...and hey, get me one, too, while you're at it...and follow along as I document the horrors within. (Previous installments, as always, are located in the sidebar somewhere, beneath all the ads.)

p. 183 - Top Cow Summer Reading Set:

"Get a grab bag of 10 awesome Top Cow comics in this mystery pack and kick off your summer right! Plus get at least 1 limited edition variant cover in each pack!"

"They've been gathering dust on the warehouse shelves, so it was either this or the recycler! Enjoy your copies of Hunter Killer and Universe!"

p. 216 - Fathom #0:

"Michael Turner's Fathom makes its triumphant return for the thrilling third volume!"

And once it hits about, oh, issue fourteen or so, when this series peters out, too, I'm sure we'll see the fantastic fourth volume of Fathom, with yet another number 1. Excuse me, number 0.

The day a Fathom series hits issue #25, I may drop dead from the shock.

p. 252 - The Man with No Name #1:

Oh, hey, a comic based on the old Clint Eastwood movies! Cool! Hmmm, what's this variant cover, here....

A...a zombie variant? You're kidding me, right?

"Featuring covers by regular artist Richard Isanove (Dark Tower), as well as a special 'zombie' cover by Arthur Suydam...."

Oh dear. Why, why?

p. 398 - 500 Essential Graphic Novels SC:

I hope that's the actual cover (a panel from Watchmen, in case you didn't know), because I find it amusing that a book about this "fascinating and innovative form" is being sold with an image of an old man about to be beaten to death his one of his own trophies.

p. 399 - Native Americans in Comic Books: A Critical Study:

Oh, my. This won't end well, will it? ("Positive portrayals of Indians in comics: Turok. Now, onto the other 250+ pages of this book....")

(Yes, I know there were other positive portrayals. Don't poop on my joke.)

p. 406 - The Men's Underwear Kit:

"This complete kit contains all the essential underwear-repair power tools a man could need, including needle and thread, iron-on patches, two safety pins, an elastic waistband, duct tape, white-out, and a 32-page Instruction MAN-u-al that clearly demonstrates the ins and outs of proper maintenance and repair to turn that one pair into an ever-wear."

Not stocking this book, because...well, look, I love my customers, but the last thing in the world I want to think about is THEIR UNDERWEAR.

p. 410 - Seagalogy: A Study of the Ass-Kicking Films of Stevan Seagal SC:

Solicitation includes warning that the writer of this book is "known to millions for his hilarious [sic] reviews on the Ain't It Cool News website." So consider that before you order it, Sims.

And besides...on this very page is a book about a man who holds more knowledge about ass-kicking than Mr. Seagal could ever hope to achieve:

There is nothing wrong with you that the Shat can't fix...with his hands.

EDIT: Okay, apparently I picked on the one person at AICN with actual talent, judging by some of the response I've been getting. I mean, honestly, what were the odds of finding the one guy? Anyway, here's his site, so read up, you.

p. 411 - Facebook Book SC:

"...Full of anecdotes (true and semi-true), tips (useful and useless), and other insights, including chapters on the Ethics and Etiquette of using the 'Book, what your profile really says about you, and a Facebook dictionary."

A new release from the "Direct to the Remainder Table" library, apparently.

p. 412 - Star Wars Holocron Pop-Up Limited Collector's Edition:

"Last chance! Less than 50 still available" out of a 500 copies print run, says the solicit. Hmmm...wonder why...oh, wait, it must be the three hundred dollar price tag.

p. 425 - Elvis Is Trading Cards:

p. 428 - Silly Supermarket 2008 Stickers Trading Cards:

"...The affordable and easy-to-complete 30-card die-cut set pokes fun at some of todayís most popular brand names, including 'Spite,' 'Small Bark Franks,' 'Chef Poor-Artie,' and more!"

I wonder if the set includes a parody of Wacky Packages?

p. 438 - Wolverine Enameled Cufflinks:

"On those rare occasions when Logan, the X-Man better-known as Wolverine, needs to dress up for a formal event, he uses these cufflinks to give his dress shirt that extra touch."

So Wolverine wears cufflinks...with his own face on them? Does anyone else do this? I mean, aside from Donald Trump?

p. 456 - The Princess Bride Fezzik the Giant Talking Plush:

Dude, this is totally an André the Giant plushie doll. That talks. In a fair and decent world, this would have it all over those Elmo things.

p. 468 - Mandrake the Magician Statue:

For the eighty-year-old in your life.

Oh, okay, fine. To be fair, he does have a killer expression:


p. 474 - Star Trek Icons Commander Spock Bust:

Sigh. Okay, here we go...obvious joke in 3...2....

"Captain, it appears something has happened to my arms. I find it most...illogical."

No, I'm not proud.

p. 476 - Star Wars Kustomz Sandcrawler Rotocast Figure:

As it says, that pick is not the final version of the product, as they apparently need to pour more jugs-full of ABSOLUTE CREEPINESS into this item. GAH.

p. 517 - Predator 20th Anniversary Edition Machete:

I have to say, when I reflect upon my fond memories of the initial Predator movie, what comes to mind generally isn't the prop machetes they were wavin' around.

p. 520 - Nintendo NES Controller Belt Buckle:

I shudder to think of the number of nerdy and inappropriate sexual advances this thing is going to be responsible for. "Hey, baby, wanna enter your cheat code?"

p. 523 - Sweeney Todd Shaving Kit:

In a strange way, this is sort of brilliant.

Also, there's two full pages of Sweeney Todd stuff in this catalog. This would be known as the "Hot Topic Restock Section."

And as long as I'm on a bit of a tangent, there sure is a lot of merchandise for last year's movies in here. How much more Pirates of the Caribbean stuff am I going to sell? Is now really the right time to order Cloverfield one-sheets? Yes, I know there are DVDs still being (or about to be) sold for these properties, but that doesn't seem to drive the merchandise frenzy the same way an actual film in an actual theatre does. I can't help but think this is a lot of stuff of the "well, couldn't sell 'em in real stores, let's dump 'em on the comic shops" variety.

Or, again, it's all there to restock your local Hot Topic.

p. 523 -Tin Motorcycle with Rider:

"Slightly chubby and very charming, this roguish motorcyclist enjoys the ride on his tin motorbike."

Only noted because "Slightly chubby and very charming since 1969" will be added to my rotating taglines.

p. 529 - Hulk board games:

I can't decide which is my favorite...the "Hulk Smash" board game:

"Smash your way through a cityscape, Hulk-style, in this Make 'em, Move 'em, and Mash 'em constructive (and destructive) board game!"

The "Operation Hulk" board game:

"Poor Hulk is sick, so you better operate quick! Combining classic Operation game play with the Incredible Hulk, this board game features light-up and 'roaring' effects."

But I think it has to be the Don't Wake Hulk" board game:

...if only because you apparently play various Marvel Super-Heroes doing their damnedest not to stir the wrath of a groggy Hulk from his mid-afternoon nap.

p. 534 - Monopoly Peanuts Edition Board Game:

Well, crap, I suppose it was only a matter of time before they finally hit upon a Monopoly variation that I'm going to want.

Hey, you know what'd be funny? "Monopoly - The Das Kapital Edition." Well, okay, maybe not that funny. Look, I'm writing this at one in the morning after a New Comics Day...you're lucky you're getting complete sentences out of me.

Marvel Previews p. 35 - The Invincible Iron Man #1:

Hey, you know what we're not going to need after the Iron Man movie comes and goes from general release? Yes, that's right -- multiple ongoing Iron Man series...how'd you guess? Especially since no Iron Man comic sells well at our shop, after Marvel spent the better part of a year making sure fans no longer liked him.

Well, at least this series looks pretty good. Maybe this one can stick around when they cancel the rest.

Marvel Previews p. 108 - Essential Rampaging Hulk Vol. 1 TPB:

Just so I'm not Mr. Gloomypants McGripealot, I will say this collection of the stories from the Hulk magazines will be absolutely fantastic, even if Mr. Shooter's absolute nadir as a comics writer won't be around 'til the next volume. (Yes, Jim Shooter wrote something worse than Warriors of Plasm. Hard to believe, I know.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Scribbler the Bad Trip Owl sez... 

from Turok Son of Stone #112 (Nov. 1977)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Comics' Greatest Palindrome. 

Congratulations to the granddaddy of comics webloggers, Neilalien, on the occasion of the eighth anniversary of his site!

Not only has he been an inspiration in his excellent news linkblogging, his occasional extended commentary, and the periodical bit of silliness, but he was the first comics blogger that I know of who sorta "adopted" a character as a focus of his site. You folks reading this know I like Swamp Thing, and you're probably aware that pal Dorian has a thing for Wildcat, but it was Neilalien who blazed the trail with his Dr. Strange-centric weblogging. But it isn't just a fansite...the Dr. Strange-related links and info are just a backbone upon which Neilalien hangs his industry observations. Not that the good Doctor is always the focus of every post, but rather just a thread that runs throughout his entire site, tying everything together with a thematic consistency that people like, say, me, with my more scattershot presentations, can only hope for.

Plus, on a more personal note, Neilalien offered his assistance in my early weblogging days, giving me tips on image posting and formatting and so on, which I appreciated greatly. And I know several other bloggers who benefited from his advice and wisdom.

So thank you, Neil! Thanks for the eight years of quality weblogging in your unique voice. Here's to many more years!

In other news:

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Turok Son of Stone DVD. 

So I watched the Turok Son of Stone direct-to-DVD cartoon over the weekend, and...well, overall I enjoyed it, though it's a bit different in tone from the comics I grew up with.

For one, Turok is a lot more angry and violent and moody in the cartoon than he ever was in the original Dell/Gold Key comics. There's a whole lot of him in the cartoon lookin' like this:

In the comics, Turok was more of a rational father figure to his young companion Andar, attempting to teach by example, and often presented as a civilized counter to the savage Lost Land and its primitive inhabitants. However, in the movie, Turok is...well, I already said. "Angry and violent and moody" - cast out from his tribe, nearly everyone he loves dies, etc., so I guess he's got good reason to be a bit on the miffed side.

And did I say violent? There is a surprising amount of blood and violence in this cartoon, with lots of graphically depicted knifes in chests, spears through bodies, gunshots to stomachs, the occasional head and limb flying here and there. To wit:

Which, for some odd reason, reminded me of an Eternal Warrior cover (issue #35) from later Turok-publisher Valiant Comics:

Yeah, that's the comic that came with the "protective" white wraparound cover warning of the "graphic image" hidden therein. Yeah, we all thought it was dumb then, too.

Er, anyway, back to the Turok movie. On the good side, once the gang is in the Lost Valley, there is plenty of Turok-fightin'-dinosaurs action. For example, AXE TO THE HEAD:

And there's a nice sequence with Turok fighting a bunch of these critters, though realistically that arm would have been yanked right out of that socket, there:

Yeah, I'm demanding realism from my "Indians fighting dinosaurs" movie.

One minor complaint -- at no point does anyone refer to a dinosaur as a "honker."

On second thought, maybe that was a good thing.

Also included on the disc is a 20-minute documentary giving an overview of the character's history, focusing mostly on the comics and cast/crew interviews for the film, with only passing mention of the video games. At one point it is mentioned, with a straight face, that the first Valiant Comics issue of Turok sold 1.7 million copies, leaving unmentioned that many of those copies ended up unsold and dumped in bargain bins, as the comic was over-ordered for an investor market that had mostly abandoned Valiant by that point. Or maybe is was mentioned...there were plenty of obvious edits in the interviews. But there's a lot of talk about the origins of the character, with several contributions by comics writer/historian Mark Evanier, and there are even a few words from the Native American advisor on the film, who made sure the costumes and weapons were reasonably correct.

Overall, I did like the cartoon...it packs a lot of action into a fairly short runtime (about an hour and a quarter), and while the plot holds no real surprises, it all moves along entertainingly enough. And while this is not quite the original Turok character, there are several undeniably cool moments of Turok-vs.-dinosaur badassery. Older Turok fans may be taken aback a bit at the amount of blood splashing around, and you may want to screen it first before unleashing it on any kids. But, if you're an older kid, and if you're an old Turok fan who can handle some minor adjustments to the premise, give it a shot. At least a rental, or, ahem:

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Your daily required dosage of swamp creature news. 

So inside one of the books from that huge collection of sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks we recently acquired was one of these:

That's the front side of a trading card-sized checklist for Marvel Comics' crossover event "Operation: Galactic Storm." Here's the checklist part:

The "I.D./membership card" aspect of the checklist is fun, and I kinda prefer that to the postcard-sized checklists Marvel's doing now. Though I suppose the postcards look better when attached with magnets to your refrigerator door.

...What? Maybe I do, what's it to you?

In other news:
  • Culumon over at Deviantart has posted one of his images presenting a couple candidates I could really get behind.

  • Reader David informs me that the Mountain Goats have a song on their new album entitled "How to Embrace A Swamp Creature," which they somehow composed without consulting me. Anyway, the image presented at the link there is kinda/sorta Swamp Thingy, and that's close enough for me.

  • Pal Ian has e-mailed me with some "word in the street" going around at Wondercon, running this weekend in San Francisco. It's second-hand info from folks at the DC Comics panels that Ian didn't make it to, but apparently Swamp Thing may be making an appearance in the main DC Universe, as opposed to his usual Vertigo stomping grounds. Ian also says this may be happening in an Ambush Bug comic, and if so, this will be about as "main DC Universe" as any other Ambush Bug comic, I guess.

    Here's what they say in this con report:

    "Asked if Swamp Thing could be returned to the DCU, (Sales VP Bob) Wayne said that Dan (Didio, DC Executive Editor) has often asked Karen Berger if the character can come back to the DCU, 'And believe us, we would never try to bring him back in a comedic book without their knowledge.

    '"So look for Swamp Thing in Tiny Titans #4,' Wayne deadpanned."

    Here's a previous encounter between Swampy and, um, Ambushy.

    Related: Carla sent a Twitter post my way, indicating that there was no Swamp news to be had at the Vertigo panel. Thanks for checking, Carla!

  • So pal Cully sent me a scan of this in-house ad from Marvel Super-Heroes #20 (May 1969):

    ...with the comment "Who's this loser? ...He had to have been so bad that Marvel went with reprints in the next issue instead."

    It clearly wasn't the Guardians of the Galaxy Starhawk, and he certainly wasn't familiar to me.

    Well, I turned up this entry on the character, which provides a little more information about who he almost was, and how he never quite came to be (though part of his one and only completed story saw print in the last issue of the Marvelmania fan club 'zine).

    Well, if you're only gonna make one official appearance, at least in was the coolest issue of Marvel Super-Heroes.

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