mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, June 07, 2008

"The Wolverine newsletter provides you with the inside scoop on the 'ol canuckle head' himself...." 

[x] Since you're already publishing two monthly X-Men books at this point as it is, just go ahead and make a weekly title out of them. You know you want to.

[x] Yes, but not in the same places they were before.

[x] It should be undone, made "never was," in the worst way you could possibly imagine. Maybe even Mephisto can be involved.

[x] Pikers! I'd like to see at least THREE monthly Wolverine titles by, oh, say, 2008.

[x] He was a hero? Man, the '90s are weird.

[x] Only if it does not conflict with my 54-chapter Rogue/Gambit marriage fanfic. In fact, I'd be willing to let you adapt my stories into comic form.


Please tell me one of you took this survey and received a copy of the results.

And for those of you intrigued by the idea of a Wolverine newsletter, like I know I am, here's a blow-up of a tiny scan that accompanied this survey:


Ad says the newsletter was quarterly...does anyone know if it made it past a year? It was produced by the mail order firm American Entertainment, so I'm guessing that it was an even mix of actual editorial content and ads for stuff you can buy from the company. If anyone knows better, set me straight.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I believe I may have found a new motto for this website. 

"I don't need a jetpack -- all I need is hate." If those aren't words to live by....

Actually, I've been poking through a bunch of Punisher 2099 comics as they've been getting processed for the bargain bins...and they're kinda darkly funny. I mostly dismissed the 2099 line as something I wasn't interested in at the time they originally were released. I sampled the first issues of each of the initial series and not one came even close to grabbing me. But now that I look at Punisher 2099, years after the fact...it was co-created and written by Pat Mills, the co-creator of one of the greatest anti-superhero comics ever published. (EDIT: New link...sorry, that other link was working last night, honest.) It's just...so over the top with its grittiness and the lead's hardboiledness and just plain craziness. I was chatting about this with internet pal and professional G4 TV watcher Chris Sims about this very topic, and he sent me a link to this image one of his readers sent him. In it, the Punisher is asked how old he is, and he responds with "thirty-six...caliber!" which is both insane and wonderful.

So I may have to reconsider Punisher 2099, and give a look to the other Pat Mills (and Tony Skinner) issues of the series. I'm intrigued, at any rate.

Also, in the letters page for this issue, mention is made of a coloring choice that I'd noticed in another Marvel title as well:

Okay, if you're gonna claim you're a "bad dude," I'd like to see some documentation to that effect. But that's not what I want to talk about. I first noticed the "black blood" phenomenon when Groo the Wanderer made the transition from PC Comics to Marvel/Epic (yes, with a pitstop at Eclipse Comics along the way), and the sprays and pools of red blood we used to see in Groo's earlier adventures were now suddenly colored black. I don't know if they were absolutely consistent about it, but I certainly remember noticing it at the time.

I'm sure it's all Comics Code Authority-enforced, and it's no big whoop. Or as Employee Aaron said: "They're all comic book characters; of course they'd bleed black ink" -- who can argue logic like that? Not me, brother.

One more thing from this ish of Punisher 2099: the Circulation Statement:

Boy, weren't the early-to-mid-1990s a fun time? Some awfully big numbers there (yes...including the returns; by and large, those returns were higher in number than the print runs of many titles today).

images from Punisher 2099 (Jan 1994) by Pat Mills, Tony Skiller, Art Nichols & John Nyberg

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Don't irritate me. 

Well, it was another pretty busy Wednesday, with a boatload of funnybooks and a parade of customers, and me cracking the whip on employees Aaron and Jeff to ensure that NO FUN was being had, lest we offend the thin-skinned with our lack of professionalism. It was NO FUN DAY: "EMPLOYEE-BOT JEFF-1000 IS PROGRAMMED TO PROVIDE COMICS TO THE HU-MANS. PLEASE CONSUME AND ENJOY."

Received was our reorder of the mighty Hembeck Omnibus, frightening the lily-hearted and the weak-willed with its enormous girth, and yet nearly selling through by the end of the day anyway.

The first installment of DC's newest weekly comic Trinity is out, and it's interesting, amusing, clever...so the online comic fans are likely complaining about it. "Oh no, 'quality' -- we hate that!" But it's a nice beginning for what looks like a fun Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman adventure. And the back-up, featuring Jack Kirby's verison of Morgaine Le Fey, is, if anything, better than the lead. Certainly intriguing, making for some above-average superheroing.

Ultimate Origins #1 - No, I didn't buy this...don't really care about Ultimate-anything, anymore...but it does seem like the Ultimate books are a lot thinner now for some reason. Not less pages, but, like, thinner paper stock. Is it just me?

Thor: Search for Odin - reprints issues 7 and 8 of the current Thor series. Not sure why we ordered it...though I suppose we'll sell at least one or two to the completists, so that's reason enough to get some. Were enough stores out of 7 and 8 that a reprinting was necessary?

Grimm Fairy Tales #27 - I'm never quite sure what to make of this comic, but darned if it doesn't sell reasonably well. Near as I can tell, it's about large-breasted women who reenact classic fairy tales, more or less. No wonder it sells well, I guess.

From the cover of Marvel Spotlight: Secret Invasion:

I believe it was Employee Jeff who pointed out that he misses this type of Skrull, with the goo-goo-googly eyes. EDIT: Okay, it was actually Employee Aaron. Hell, I don't know, all these employees begin to look alike after a while.

A THING THAT SURPRISED ME: Tom Strong Volume 6 showing up this week. I'd totally forgotten it was coming, or that ABC still had more comics to collect. EDIT: It's a softcover version of a hardcover from a couple of years ago. Probably should have noted that.

If you all are still looking for a prestige format version of The Killing Joke, there's one in the Killing Joke action figure set, complete with Joker in Hawaiian shirt. The comic has the green lettering on the cover...which the first printing had. I know these aren't first printings, but maybe someone who bought the set can identify what printing it is, and whether the letters are embossed (didn't look like it to me).

Robin/Spoiler Special - Okay, will this make all those Spoiler fans happy, finally? (Yeah, I already know the answer.)

American Splendor Season Two #3 - And now, my favorite cover of the week. If Harvey hosted a TV talk show, that'd be his logo.

Scream Queen #1 - A little...bloodier than I expect from Boom! Studios, but, still, what was I expecting, right? Flipping through it felt like I was watching one of those cheap '80s slasher films that cropped up in Halloween's wake...and I mean that in a good way.

We never seem to order enough of the Fables trade paperbacks (of which volume #10 was out this week). We keep bumping the orders up, we keep selling out.

Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #1 - Richard Corben? Illustrating H.P. Lovecraft stories? Sure, count me in.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Raising Cain #2 - Wow, we're down to ordering two copies of this for the store. Surely these must sell somewhere.

Star Wars Omnibus: Droids Vol. 1 - The Droids comics and trades were always the poorest sellers out of the Star Wars books, at least for us. Even the SW newspaper strip reprint comics outsold it. Kinda curious if we'll have any bites on the Droid comics in this new format.

Jonah Hex #32 - Gorgeous art by Jordi Bernet...really one of the best looking titles on the stands. The writing's pretty good, too...it's no Hex, but what is?

Legion of Super-Heroes: 1050 Years in the Future TP - Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the teen superteam with a bunch of stories I already own in Archives or in the original format. But it looks like a reasonable overview of various points in the Legion's history, so if you're looking for a sampler, here you go. It includes issue #300 of Legion of Super-Heroes, which is a blast.

Golden Age Sheena Queen of the Jungle - Okay, this actually came out a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to mention its inclusion of pre-Code and post-Code versions of the same Sheena story, showing how a comic was rescripted to be more kid-safe and mother-approved. Though I doubt Mother would want Little Billy leering at Sheena's shapely gams, regardless of how tame the dialogue was.

Anyway, I love these post/pre-Code comparisons. I think one or two popped up in the late and greatly lamented Tales Too Terrible to Tell as well. I'd dig a full book of these, I think.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The one time I really got a customer angry... 

...was when I asked "Hello, sir...is there anything you're looking for?"


This was after he'd entered the store, looked around a bit, and began peering into the glass case.

I know I told that story before, but just thought it bore retelling.

By the way: yes, I know that nobody wants to shop at a store where the employees have taken the Kevin Smith and/or High Fidelity model to heart and treat their customers as the audience for their "funny" performances. That's fine. I fully understand that.

That's not what this is, but that's how people are reacting to it. And really, they shouldn't.

It's clearly not typical behavior. It's clearly a situation unusual enough that Kevin thought it might make a humorous story for his website, and wrote it up as such. It's an example of a customer catching, for a brief moment, Kevin and his pal Heather with their professional guard down. It's also an example of Kevin stopping the behavior and gettin' to work. And, by the way, making a sale and establishing a relationship with said customer.

Sometimes I've been caught off-guard at the store...it happens. I have been doing this for a long time. And when I had my library job before that...I saw fellow employees get caught off-guard there as well. As I said in Kevin's comments...people aren't robots. Shit does indeed happen. And if it does, you go "Whoops, sorry," get your shit together, and help the customer out, or whatever. Yeah, I know one should probably keep up their professional demeanor all the time, but it slips, sometimes. We're only human.

No, it shouldn't happen. But sometimes, it does. Maybe only for a split second. But the point is that this isn't consistent behavior. Mistakes happen.

And let's take Kevin's particular example. I would have found it amusing and a little cute had I been the customer. Had they kept it up instead of actually addressing my questions, then yes, I would have been a bit put out. But they stopped what they were doing almost immediately, and helped the customer.

Doesn't seem like a big deal to me. But then, I seem to have a surfeit of common sense and a sense of perspective, which almost always puts me in conflict with certain folks on the internet. And, by the way, that store's owner doesn't think it's a big deal, either. If what Kevin and Heather did was really that big of an issue, really that big of a turn-off...well, you must have a remarkably problem-free life, is all I can figure.

So, yes, misbehaving employees can be a problem for a store. Persistent goofing around can be a turn off for the customer.

Kevin's story isn't an example of this. Folks need to pick their targets a little more carefully if you're going to go after comic shops with bad customer service. Like this kind of store...I didn't make any of that shit up, friends. A little friendly arm-punching ain't a patch on some of the fuckwittery I've experienced in some shops.

But then, maybe this is all just a bunch of "nerd posturing." After all, I've only been doing this for twenty years...what the hell do I know?

An incomplete list of silly and completely unprofessional things we've done at the store over its 28 year history. 

  • Played Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" 28 1/2 consecutive times, keeping track on a posted piece of paper

  • In-store Tetris competitions

  • Made up half-baked musical numbers on the spot ("The Leprechaun Punisher" - "Priority Mail - The Musical" - "Mike Racer")


  • Used a megaphone to announce special deals at our "Midnight Madness" sales

  • Used a megaphone for pretty much any other reason we could think of

  • Displayed Crack Comics and Speed Comics together in the glass case (well, I thought it was funny)

  • Recounted, in excruciating detail, our Trade Wars 2002 adventures

  • Set fire to a comic out in the parking lot (don't remember which comic...oh, okay, it was West Coast Avengers)

  • Picked up another employee and twirled him around in the air, making him scream like a girl

  • Read Kitty Pryde's dialogue from the Kitty Pryde & Wolverine mini-series in a gravelly voice (a la The Venture Brothers' Doctor Girlfriend)

  • Learned a lot about gay porn (thanks, Dorian...I think)

  • Put up a promo poster for Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt up by the register with other new promo posters, some 20 years after the series was over

  • Debated, at length, the DC Universe timeline, and how the presence of the Teen Titans screws it all up

  • Got a wandering balloon-sculpture expert to make us all kinds of cool balloon-sculpture-type stuff (sword, hat, etc.)

  • Had conversations entirely in tough-guy gangster-type voices with former employee Corey

  • Played "Makin' Bacon" by the Pork Dukes on the store stereo (trust me, that's entirely inappropriate)

  • Had a "Suit and Tie Day" (ironic, no?)

  • Wore this

  • Mom jokes. Lots of them

  • Stood on the roof, wearing no pants (may be apocryphal)

  • Hired Kid Chris

  • "Mike's Super Disco Party Dance-Off!"

  • Occasionally brandished The Peacemaker in a friendly-yet-threatening manner (The Peacemaker: wooden baseball bat with a peace sign scratched into the handle)

  • Knowingly and willingly sold copies of Youngblood to customers

  • Played the circle game

  • Kept around a ziplocked bag filled with former employee Rob's lengthy shorn locks

  • Did impressions of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street

  • Allowed myself to be one of the objects of a county-wide scavenger hunt

  • Gathered material for weblogs

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

And now, one of the last words you'd ever expect Gambit to say. 

"Wonky?" Really?

This mini-comic, measuring only 4 by 6 1/2 inches, was packaged in one of Pizza Hut's "Creators' Choice" X-Men cartoon videotapes from 1993. It came packed with a trading card and a mini-poster, neither of which, alas, are still present. Here's the cover, by Bill Sienkiewicz, of the one from which I scanned that first image:

The interior pencils, on this issue at least, are by Alex Saviuk. You can see the cover of the second issue, along with other Pizza Hut comic book promos, here.

The inside covers feature brief messages from the writer (not of this particular comic, but of the X-Men in general, at the time) Fabian Nicieza, and from Marvel Comics presenter Stan Lee:

ME: "Whoo hoo! Stan says it's okay to not like you!"

EMPLOYEE AARON: "Awwwww...."

If you'd like to learn more about Pizza Hut's X-Men promotion, here's something that'll take thirty seconds of life away from you...just click on the next pic for the YouTube video. No embedding allowed on this video, so you gotta click through to see it:

Apparently there was a time when large Bishop cardboard stand-ups roamed the Earth, at least in places other than comic book stores:

Monday, June 02, 2008

"Good Lord! They're already loose!!" 

Loaned to me by pal Tom (not that pal Tom, but by this pal Tom) are a couple of the Joe Kubert School-produced 'zines from when he attended there. The first is Manticore, published in 1976:

The jam cover design is credited to Steve Bissette, and drawn by the students.

This next one, Parade of Gore, came out in '77 and features a Bissette-drawn cover:

Here's a closer look at part of the Parade of Gore logo. I love the expression on the left-hand A:

Other contributors to these mags include Rick Veitch, Tom Yeates, John Totleben, Rick Grimes, Ron Randall, Dave Dorman, pal Tom...it's a fun look at some early work by these creators.

Tom also told me that there were tons of these 'zines floating around the school; that they would use them for toilet paper (probably an exaggeration) and that they'd use them for traction to get stuck cars out of snowbanks (probably not an exaggeration). All together now...AAAAARGH!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

In which Mike speaks about just a few things very briefly, and then plugs his eBay auctions. 

  • So you may remember a while back, during my Swamp Thing/blogiversary week, when I wrote a bit about Darkseid's appearance in Swamp Thing. Well, the man what wrote 'n' drew that funnybook, Rick Veitch, has a few words to say about it as well, particularly about his motivation behind introducing the characters into the book.

    And though I said it before in that old post, I just want to say it again: I love Veitch's use of the phrase "academic chicken." It still tickles me.

  • Speaking of Mr. Veitch, his new collection Heartburst and Other Pleasures is now in stores. Included is the title work, originally a Marvel Graphic Novel; "The Mirror of Love," written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Veitch and Steve Bissette; and other short pieces of lovable dementia. Highly recommended, as are all his other recent collections (Abraxas and the Earthman and Shiny Beasts).

    Other new items of note this week:

    Final Crisis #1 - perhaps you've heard of it...I went for the "sliver" cover, because I'm obsessive enough to want all my Final Crisis covers to be the same type, and the "classic DC hero" variants have a creepy Flash cover coming up that I'm not going to want staring back at me.

    Oh, and the insides are pretty good, too. Very beautifully drawn by J.G. Jones, and Grant Morrison sets things up quite nicely for the shenanigans that are to follow.

    Comics Journal #290 - contains quite possibly more discussion and debate about that recent Charles Schulz biography than any normal human can stand. Includes a lengthy essay from son Monte Schulz. There are also some reprints of 1950s horror work by Bob Powell, including the unmissable "Wall of Flesh." Honestly, it's worth buying this issue of TCJ just for that story. But you should read the rest of the mag, too.

    Have I mentioned the Hembeck Omnibus yet? It's fatter than your mom and twice as funny, and well worth every penny (the book, not your mom). There are spots here and there where the lettering is just a tiny bit too cramped and a little muddy, but still perfectly readable, if eyestrainable. But trust me...it's great! Buy two! Also - contains naked Hembeck! Who wouldn't want that?

    Speak of the Devil #6 - the last chapter of Gilbert Hernandez's story of...well, dysfunctional relationships and murder, murder, murder! Fun for the whole family. It's a fast and wrongly-entertaining read, and if you didn't get it in the single format, get the inevitable collection. Also, there's a short interview with Gilbert, where he says a thing or two about this series.

    King Size Hulk #1 - Marvel was nice enough to "double-cover" this comic, so that you get both variant covers instead of having to choose. The stories inside...well, it's half Red Hulk hijinks which, if you like the Red Hulk stuff (which I do, actually), here's more of it. The other half is reprints, including the first appearance of Wolverine which, frankly, as Hulk comics go, isn't all that. But if you don't have the story already, here's your chance to finally own it.

  • It's the CROSSOVER OF THE AGES: pal Dorian meets Bully the Little Stuffed Bull, and the horrific carnage is documented in bloodcurdling full color right here.

    And where did this pulse-pounding confrontation take place? At the Bookexpo America 2008 in Los Angeles, and you can read Bully's report starting here, and continuing here.

  • I do intend on going back to discuss some of the responses to my post about the various reboots of the Legion of Super-Heroes. A lot of you made some very good points, and I do want to address them. Hopefully I'll have the time to do so soon.

  • I apologize in advance for this commerical announcement:

    I'm trying to raise a little scratch, so I've started selling a few things through my personal eBay account again. You can find a link in my "commercial section" of my sidebar, too...I'll be listing more things over the next few weeks. If you are so inclined, and I happen to have anything you'd like, please feel free to help out...and keep checking back for new items. Any and all purchases will be greatly appreciated. Plus, I guarantee that every item has been personally touched by me -- now that's a selling point!

    And to make myself feel better about begging folks for money, let me try to help out someone else trying to raise a little extra summer fundage: Alan David Doane has a bunch of stuff for sale, with lots of great deals.

    Oh, and check out pal Dorian's Amazon store, too. I recommend Myths for the Modern Age.

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