mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Some Friday happenings. 

Friday at the store:

  • A fellow comes in shortly after we open, and hands me three comics...'90s Marvels, nothing special, even if they'd been in mint condition, which they weren't. I politely decline, saying we have these particular comics in stock already. He asks what they're worth, and I tell him that they aren't really worth much of anything, as they're very worn, and mint copies of these books are easy to come by. He thanks me, and leaves.

    A few hours later, a fellow from the thrift shop down the street comes in. Says he just acquired some comics and was wondering if they had any value. He shows me...

    ...you're way ahead of me...

    ...the very same copies of those three comics I'd seen earlier in the day. Hoo boy.

  • Took a moment to go through the new Overstreet guide, and saw that they're still presenting comics in the CGC plastic slabs on the "Cover Gallery" pages. Now, the fun of the gallery pages is being able to see nice examples of various comic book covers. Presenting them inside the slab means that the size of the cover is reduced so that the CGC box is freely advertised plainly visible. I don't want to see the fancy plastic box your comic is in...I'd rather have a better look at the cover.

  • Reorganized the multiple manga shelves we have at the front of the store. Well, Employee Jeff did a lot of it...I was "supervising." But we were thinning out some of the now-dead stock for eventual price reduction or eBay sale, and making room for some of the more popular titles, and now people will hopefully be able to find things on those shelves.

  • Conversation Employee Aaron had on the phone:

    Customer on phone: "Did any new female action figures come out in the last couple of weeks?"

    Aaron: "Yes, we have the Golden Age Wonder Woman...."

    Customer on phone: "Oh, really? ...Is she hot?"

    Aaron: "Uh...it's not a bad figure...."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Or maybe we're in the "Downloadable Torrent Age." 

Whenever the new Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide arrives, as the 38th annual edition did this week, my usual ritual is to go immediately to the House of Secrets listing and see what #92, the first Swamp Thing, is up to.

$1,000 in Near Mint. Hokey smokes.

Haven't had much time to peruse the rest of the book, but, boy, it does seem larger. And heavier. The print doesn't look any smaller.

I did look in the glossary, if only because I happened to flip right to it when I was glancing through the volume. I know I've spoken about this before, but I remember when Overstreet used to say that "Bronze Age" was...well, let's refer to the glossary in the 28th edition from ten years ago:

"Non-specific term not in general acceptance by collectors which denotes comics published from approximately 1970 through 1980."

There ain't no "not in general acceptance" qualifier in the new guide, which means that "Bronze Age" has been used in enough ads as a marketing term that everyone's finally used to it, I guess. We've even used it around the store once or twice, without any measure of sarcasm. But I'm resisting "Copper Age" (allegedly books from about '84 to '92) with all my might.

"YOUNGBLOOD #1 Liefeld art - Key book from Copper Age" - Sounds more impressive that way, doesn't it?

Anyway, here are the generally accepted "ages" of American comics, and my entirely unfair definitions that I'm sure somebody will take offense to even though I'm obviously speaking tongue-in-cheek:

Victorian Age/Platinum Age (sometime in the 1800s or so, running until Superman came out): nobody cares.

Golden Age (1930s - about the mid '50s): the stuff you can't afford, which is okay because a lot of it isn't as good as you seem to think it is. And that stuff that is good you really can't afford, so don't even bother.

Silver Age (mid '50s 'til about the late '60s): the origin of 90% of scans on blogs. Remembered by the general public via the Batman TV show from this period.

Bronze Age ('70s, more or less): the other 10% of blog scans. Also, you can't believe that comics from this period are being priced this high. I mean, who's gonna pay more than a dollar for Stalker? I mean, honestly.

Modern Age ('80s onward): all that crap everyone's got too much of. Has the virtue of finally lumping Watchmen and Deathmate into a shared category, aside from "Things Made of Paper."

And there have been other "ages" to divvy up the Modern Age stuff even further, like the aforementioned "Copper Age," and some wag came up with "Polybag Age," plus there's "Chromium Age" which may have existed only in my head, but it's oddly appropriate. If you're cynical, like I know I am, "Final Age" may be a good one, too.

Er, anyhoo...I'm gonna try to finally sit down and give the new Overstreet a good goin' through in the next day or two, and see if there's anything else of note I can bring up.

Hmmmm...how much are all those Nancy and Sluggos now...?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Just a few links for today... 

...and, of course, a picture of Nancy:

from Nancy and Sluggo #123 (June 1955)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"...The only thing he doesn't want cold are his women." 

from The Amazing World of DC Comics #8 (Sept. 1975) - written by Carl Gafford,
spot illos by Carmine Infantino

Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - 2008). 

So long, Arthur.

All four of those scans are of books from my personal collection. The first, 2001 A Space Odyssey, was a hardcover library discard that I bought circa 1979/1980 at a neighborhood garage sale.

It cost twenty-five cents. Rarely has a quarter been invested so wisely.

Thanks for the stories, Sir Arthur.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In case you didn't hear enough about Wizard World L.A., here's more about Wizard World L.A. 

I think I've mentioned before that what I usually do here on this site is write something up at night, timestamp it at a minute past midnight, and post it before going to bed. Then, in the morning, I can check and see all the comments, hate mail, etc. that my post had gathered in the intervening hours.

The one downside of that particular habit is that sometimes I'm too tired to really write anything, but find myself writing anyway, and that's when the typos creep in. Well, sure, a typo here and there ain't no big deal...everybody makes 'em. But that Wizard World post of mine from yesterday...woo boy, clearly Mr. Sandman was trying to drag me off to Dreamland when I was putting that post together, because every time I look at the damned thing, another stupid typo leaps out, slaps me across the face, and calls me "stupid." For example, I used "write" when I meant "right." I used "tales" when I meant "tails."

So, any of you folks out there who popped by to read my thrilling tails...er, tales of convention adventure, and, after seeing all my stupid misspellings and typos and such, wondered "what the hell is this guy's problem," I apologize. I'll try knot two due that again.

Let me get these last bits of convention stuff out of my system, if you all don't mind.

For example, here's some video footage from a previous convention of that Drunk Boba Fett that I apparently missed. I don't know if it's the same Drunk Boba Fett, but honestly, can there be more than one in the world? Thanks to "FoldedSoup" for cluing me in.

CW asks if that Hulk #1 Wizard variant was just a new cover, or if there was any new material. No, it appears to be the first issue as originally published, just with a new cover image and an ad for yet another Wizard World convention on the back.

Dwayne asks if the "crooked drunken Mounties" from the upcoming Jonah Hex illustrated by Darwyn Cooke is "triply redundant." Hey, he said it, not me. I'll direct you to a post by my Canadian twin for further information on crooked drunken Mounties, my friend.

And, Matt, Matt, Matt...you looked fine in that pic. Any problems with that photo are my fault. "It's not you, baby, it's me." Also, thanks for describing me as the second best-dressed comics retailer you know. There's no shame in being second to that natty James Sime.

Jimbo noted that I'd better not be jerkin' him around on the Congorilla in the new Justice League thing, or there's gonna be trouble. Well, okay, he didn't put it like that, exactly. But, yes, as far as I can tell, James Robinson means it. I did have some day-after second thoughts, as thinking back on it, the reveal went something like this. They first said it was going to be a 90-year-old man named Bill. Then they said it would be Congo Bill. Then they dropped the Congorilla bomb. My confusion arose because I wasn't sure if they simply mentioned Congorilla in the context of "yes, this is the same guy who used to be Congorilla, not that he'll be in Congorilla form in the series," or in the context of "he's totally going to be Congorilla in the series...Batwoman and Congorilla, fighting side-by-side." The latter is what we all want, of course. (Looking at this interview...by golly, that's what we're getting! Huzzah!)

And, yes, Nathaniel -- CONGORILLA!

Other stuff:
  • Pal Dorian posted more photos from the con, including one of the guy dressed as Superman. I don't think he looked that bad...certainly not deserving of the dickitude of that one guy at the costume contest I mentioned yesterday. He certainly looks better than I would in spandex.

    The other photos include another shot of that great Wolverine outfit, and possibly the most menacing image of Electro and Hellcat from that con that you'll see. Oh, and he's got his Todd Nauck Wildcat sketch up.

  • Dan Didio, as he usually does with at the end of his DC panels, I gather, had his "lightning round" of yes/no questions from the audience. When he tried to wrap things up on "the best question you guys got," some wag asked if Bob Wayne would be writing a Time Masters 2. Only if the trade sells, came Wayne's reply...who then encouraged said sales by whipping a copy of the book out of his pack and made sure everyone in the audience got a good look at it.

  • Another amusing moment from that panel...when Robinson was talking about his forthcoming work, Didio (and, well, everyone else) was slightly baffled by the loud "banging" microphone noises. Until, eventually, it dawned on Didio that it was Robinson popping his "Ps" too close to his microphone, causing that obnoxious sound. Upon being notified of this, Robinson began speaking about his "purple Plastic Man figure." Well, we all thought it was funny.

  • Someone asked at the panel what the difference is between this new proactive Justice League title and the Batman and the Outsiders title was, since apparently both have similar concepts. My initial reaction was "the Justice League one would actually be good," but that's because I'm a jerk. The answer given was that the Outsiders were more about persuing Batman's agenda, whereas the League would be more wide-ranging. Or, you know, something like that.

And that's pretty much that. I'll be back to my normal "all Nancy and Sluggo" format tomorrow, with any luck.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wizard World L.A., the shocking aftermath. 

Well, that was certainly a convention.

So Saturday morning, pal Dorian, his boyfriend Pete, my girlfriend Nora, and I all piled into a car and made our way down to Los Angeles for the Wizard World convention, and aside from a minor incident involving a nasty bump in the road and a blown tire, it was a reasonably uneventful trip. (We didn't notice a problem at first...there's nothing quite like driving along and having everyone who passes you on your left honk at you and point in the general direction of your front left wheel.)

Anyway, we made it to the convention, waited in line for about five minutes to get our badges and our freebies...well, Pete and Nora got the freebies, since Dor and I had the comp tickets I got through the store...that was freebie enough, I guess. Which is okay, since Nora gave the freebie (a Hulk comic with a convention-exclusive cover) to me anyhow. You know, now that I think about it, I just realized I haven't even looked at the comic, since I just tossed it in the bag on the way into the show. Lemme go take a look at it.

Oh good heavens.

Michael Turner, you've done it again! But, what the hell, it's free. I was told by customer George, who had also attended the show, that there was a dealer there offering $10 to attendees for their copies of this comic.

It's been a while since either Dor and I have been to a full-on comic book convention, so we were both a little overwhelmed at first. We just sorta wandered around aimlessly, poking in the occasional back issue box, looking at the folks wandering the convention in their Star Wars costumes (and there were a lot of Star Wars costumes), and seeking out the people we knew at the artists' tables. Speaking of whom, I got to see longtime customer, now comics pro, Weshoyot at the Archaic table, sketching her little heart out. And I got to see this guy:

Because I take photos like Uwe Boll makes movies, I totally got a glare on the book, so here you go:

That man there is Matt Maxwell, comics blogger and writer, and he was nice enough to sign a copy of his book for me, as well as put up with my request to take a picture of him for my site. Anyway, everyone go look at the preview for Strangeways, and look for it on the shelves of your better comics shops by the end of this month.

My few passes though the artists' alley netted me no appearance of Bob Burden, sadly, and I don't think I ever spotted Keith Knight at his table, which is a shame. I met Knight several years ago at one of the Alternative Press Expos in San Jose, and we got to chat for a few minutes. He was a swell guy, and I wanted to say hello to him again at this con, but no luck. Ah, well. Just bad timing on my part, I think.

Once we settled down and stopped the aimless wandering, the delving into the actual comics began. I decided before even showing up I wasn't going to spend a lot of money...I was going to look for cheap old stuff, which...yeah, okay, stop laughing out there, I know that "cheap old stuff" is a contradiction in terms when it comes to comic book conventions. Usually it's the "antique shop" mentality at work: "Hey, it's old, it's gotta be expensive," which I saw an awful lot of at the show. But I did find a few things, poking through some Silver Age and '70s boxes which were marked down to 50% off (which in some cases meant the prices came down to what the books probably should actually have been selling for in the first place). I found a few Nancy & Sluggo books, as well as a nice copy of Turok #99. At another table I found a Fritzi Ritz #25, and my big splurge of the day was an Amazing World of DC Comics 'zine for $15...probably too much, but I never see them anymore, and I don't feel like competing in eBay auctions for them. Oh, and I also grabbed a DC Comics Presents #65 (Superman and Madame Xanadu) out of a dollar box, since I've been meaning to buy the stupid thing for years for the great Gray Morrow art.

Otherwise, it was a lot of window shopping...looking through boxes of '40s and '50s horror and romance comics was a lot of fun, seeing those great "Bride Romance"-type photo covers and wishing I had the cash to spend to bring them home with me. Oh well.

I've discovered, too, that I don't have quite the patience I used to have to go through the countless boxes of bargain books. Maybe seeing the endless parade of Wolfpack depresses me. I did find a few random things for a buck each for the shop, however...some later Hellblazers, the first issue of the Married with Children...hey, it wasn't much, but I can use 'em.

As a retailer-type person, I did have some concern on the behalf of some of the sellers here, particularly those who had hundred-dollar books just sitting out there, in the front of boxes at the edges of their tables, just waiting for someone to stroll on by and yank the comic when the guy behind the counter wasn't looking. I know they have to have the books out for people to look at, but I can only hope they all kept a close eye on their stock. It made me nervous, and these weren't even my comics.

And then there's the new stuff, the recently-released comics that are still on most stores' new arrivals shelves that some dealers have marked up at...adventurous prices. The new X-Force #1 at $6.50 surprised me a bit, and that one fellow who had Terry Moore's new funnybook Echo marked at $6.00...wonder how many he sold. A Hulk #2 "variant 2nd printing" was also at the six buck mark. And the guy who had Locke & Key #1 at $5 -- man, don't get me started. Pal Dorian noted this too, but there was at least one table with the most recent issue of Buffy Season 8 marked at five bucks, with a little sign that read "BUFFY IS GAY!" Hey, you stay classy, comics industry.

The actual events and such at the show, we didn't much take part in. There was a huge line for the Alyssa Milano appearance...I didn't see her myself, but my girlfriend spotted her at some point and let me know that Milano was a tiny little wisp of a petite person, which, well, in case you were wondering. And I happened to see Lou Ferrigno wandering the floor, and I looked right at him and thought, "huh, I know that's a famous person of some sort, but I wonder who it is?" Yes, that's right, I didn't immediately recognize Lou Ferrigno. I'll turn in my nerd card right away. (But I did spot Jeph Loeb walking by while I was looking through a back issue bin...go figure.)

We did catch the costume contest, which was fairly entertaining. Alas, I was too far back in the crowd to get many photos, but Dorian got plenty of good ones, so I'll link to his Flickr pages as appropriate.

The costumes on these two guys ruled:

That Jawa costume with the glowing eyes was disturbingly awesome, and that Optimus Prime get-up...that was the clear favorite of the crowd, and why he didn't win the prize is beyond me. Some website or TV show or whatever interviewed "Optimus" after the contest, and ignored the actual winners as far as I can tell.

And who did win, you ask?

These cats:

Okay, granted, they were funny, and they totally played up the fakey Italian accents, and there was a nice bit where Luigi there was comparing his tiny mallet to the HUGE FREAKIN' MALLET being wielded by a young lady dressed as Harley Quinn (whom you can see here smacking Peter in the stomach).

Other people I didn't get good photos of, but Dorian did:

Elektro and Hellcat - "Elektro" actually had little electric buzzing/shocking/light-up bits in his fingertips which was a little scary and probably not entirely legal, but still looked neat. (You can kinda see it in action here.) And Hellcat's costume worked out quite nicely as well...when they came onstage, there were a few cameras out for Elektro's appearance, but the picture-taking came on full-force when Hellcat showed up, so I imagine you'll be seeing some of those photos on your finer "mature interest" websites.

Green Hornet had a nice costume, I thought. Simple but elegant.

And here are Iron Fist and Harley.

We don't have a photo of the guy dressed as Superman, but he was a...thinner fella, but he was game enough to show up in costume and have fun, but that didn't stop some wag in the audience from shouting "more like Superboy!" which we all thought was kind of a dick thing to do.

There were a couple guys who didn't take part in the costume contest, but were sort of hanging around it, like this excellent "Desert Storm" Wolverine:

Here's another pic, this time posing with Dorian. No, Dorian isn't doing anything salacious with Wolvie in the photo.

And then there's this guy in the Hulk outfit, which just plain cracked me up:

And this fella was just part of the people wandering the convention in Star Wars costumes, but as long as I'm talking about costumes, I'll put it here:

I mean, anyone can go to a show dressed as a run-of-the-mill Stormtrooper, but a Snowtrooper? That's commitment, my friend.

And apparently there was someone at the show dressed as Drunk Boba Fett (wearing a leisure suit, carrying an ersatz martini, and wearing the Fett helmet) but I never saw him. Alas. Plus there was the assortment of catgirls, with the fuzzy ears and safety-pinned tails, some booth babes for a horror movie site who, I suppose, were technically clothed, and that one person who perhaps was a little too into The Matrix, and not only had the overcoat get-up, but even had a computer port tattoo on the back of the neck. Egads.

Also, no Klingons. Dammit.

We all wrapped up our day attending the DC Comics panel, where DC executive editor Dan Didio headed a discussion, accompanied by James Robinson, Bob Wayne, Darwyn Cooke, and, for some reason, a pretty young woman dressed as Evil Mary Marvel. Of note:
  • New Justice League title, written by Robinson, featuring a more proactive team, and starring the Hal Jordan Green Lantern, Green Arrow (the Oliver Queen version), Ray Palmer (but not as the Atom), Supergirl, Freddie Freeman (as whatever he'll eventually be called), Starman (not Jack Knight, but the blue one), Batwoman, and...believe it or not, Congorilla. Freakin' Congorilla, man. Robinson promises that this will be everyone's favorite character on the team within six months of the series' debut. (EDIT: Though the name "Congorilla" was thrown out there, specifically he was originally described by Mr. Robinson as a "90-year-old man named Bill" -- later revealed to be Congo Bill, "yes, Congorilla" as I believe Didio said. Dorian recorded the whole thing...we'll check the tapes.) No artist announced, despite someone waving a ten dollar bill in the audience in an attempt to bribe the info out of Didio.

  • Cooke will be drawing a Jonah Hex story set in Canada, featuring, quote, "crooked, drunken mounties."

  • The Arthur Curry Aquaman may reappear this year, as they're trying to cook up a version that "works best for fans."

  • When Manhunter returns, they'll have enough material in the can to avoid publishing delays. In fact, Didio specifically addressed the publishing delays issue they've been having, saying measures are being taken to correct this problem. I'll believe it when I see it, frankly.

  • It was hinted that some of the fake covers in the New Frontier special may actually become real published books.

  • When Didio noted that they're trying to create a "cohesive continuity," Cooke openly laughed at him. "These panels are a gas," says he.

  • The Dr. Fate regular series is a no-go at this time, as it was to be written by Steve Gerber, spinning out of Countdown to Mystery. Didio felt it didn't feel right to simply hand the title off to a new writer so soon after Gerber's passing.

  • Some plot points from Justice League of America #0 may be addressed in the 50-cent DC Universe #0, among other places.

  • Someone asked if, with the current popularity of Sinestro, if the mini-series Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II will be reissued. That resulted in an emphatic "NO" from pretty much the entire panel. They're trying to forget that story, apparently.

  • Question about Barry Allen's return: Bob Wayne says, "if I say 'yes,' you'll be disappointed, if I say 'no,' you'll be disappointed. So, 'no comment.'"

  • And there was some fun had at Cooke's expense, regarding his affinity for older material. When current DCU plans were being discussed, Cooke piped in saying he had no idea what anyone was talking about. "We send you a box [of comp books]," Didio said -- "Do you even open it?"

Anyway, those were the things that stuck out. I imagine one of the comic news sites will have a more complete transcript of the events.

I honestly tried to think of a question to ask, but my brain kept revolving around Swamp Thing queries, and I didn't really have any. It wasn't until the drive home that I realized I should have asked: "Since All Star Batman and Robin is the finest book currently being published by DC, is it possible to keep Frank Miller and Jim Lee on the title for ever and ever?"

I'm sure I have more to say about the con at some point, but I've already gone on long enough for this installment. Overall, the show was fun, but I'm glad it's over and done with. In the meantime, here's Kid Chris' con experience, as well as he and Dafna Trekkin' out.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Just another Sluggo Sunday. 

Back from Wizard World L.A., and pal Dorian and I survived the experience. It was a day full of costumes, comics, miles of long boxes, poop, loud music, spandex tragedy, lots of walking, a couple of nice places to eat, and brushes with certain death.

Still in Low Content Mode this weekend. Expect my full Wiz World report Monday.


from Nancy & Sluggo #125 (Oct. 1955)

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