mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I'm sorry. 



What Mike found at the gas station. 

Found stuck to a pole at a local gas station last Wednesday evening. About 4 inches high, about 2 1/4 inches wide, printed by inkjet printer on one of those free Priority Mail address label stickers you can get at any U.S. post office.

Well, I thought it was interesting.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I certainly hoped you all achieved sufficient Sluggo-ness over the last day or so. Or even Balzan-ness. I know I have.

And now, miscellaneous bullet-pointed items:
  • So once again I was prepping to ship a box of funnybooks to one of my mail order comic saver system subscribers, a fellow who gets his books shipped to him every two to three months. I'd sort through the books, double checking to make sure nothing was skipped, and, as usual, I noticed that in the same amount of time since I last shipped to this customer, some titles have only released one or two issues, while others have released as many as four.

    One of the titles that have only managed to get out one issue since about late June is Fantastic Four, by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. As you likely know, this was the creative team for Marvel's Ultimates and Ultimates 2 series, both of which were plagued with delays. (And to be fair, the currently running Ultimates 3 by Jeph Loeb and Joe Madureira is having some timeliness problems as well.) The assumption was, that when they took over the FF, that there would be lateness problems with this title as well, though there were assurances in pre-release interviews that they'd be able to maintain a monthly schedule.

    After seeing we only had one FF for the summer, I went back to our cycle sheets and pulled out the release dates for each issue since Millar and Hitch's first:

    #554 - arrived 2/13

    #555 - arrived 3/12

    #556 - arrived 4/9

    #557 - arrived 5/21

    #558 - arrived 6/25

    #559 - arrived 8/13

    We're not talking All Star Batman levels of lateness here...only a couple of issues were significantly off-schedule...but things do appear to be slipping a bit. Which is a shame, because I am quite enjoying this run of FF, and it is selling reasonably well.

  • Speaking of selling well, my restock of Secret Six #1 came in this week...and sold out almost immediately. Also having good sales are Final Crisis: Revelations #2 and Dead-Pool #1, which wasn't really a surprise given how many of my customers are vocal Dead-Pool fans.

  • Thursday afternoon at the shop, I was trying to quickly fill out a shipping form for a package pickup, as the delivery man was standing there waiting on me. While I was doing so, the gentleman engaged in a little comics small-talk:

    Delivery Man: "So, what comics are the hot items right now?"

    Me (delivering the stock, mostly-true-and-doesn't-require-a-lot-of-explaining-about-what-"crossovers"-are answer): "Oh, you know, Batman, Spider-Man...."

    DM: "They still publish those?"

    Me: "Sure they do."

    DM: "Are they still fighting the same villains?"

    Me (thinks about explaining Anti-Venom and Hush, decides against it): "Yeah, pretty much."

    DM: "So you're not supposed to read these, right?"

    Me: "Of course you are."

    DM: "I heard that comic guys just buy their comics and immediately seal them up in plastic cases."

    Me: "I don't try to encourage that with my customers. I want them to read their comics."

    DM: "Huh. Hey, that comic where Superman died...is that still worth a lot?"

    And by that time, I was done with the shipping form (though my handwriting may have been a bit rushed-looking at the end, there). He's just making small talk while he's waiting on me, I know...but it's amazing how often I get these exact same questions, usually from folks just killing time.

  • Since the topic came up a few days ago here, and sorta came up in this post, I just wanted to remind people of my particular views on comics hording and investing, such as this post about one collection of "investments" that ended up in our hands, and this sarcasm-fest.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"...The Tarzan of outer space!" 



When Mike doesn't really have a post in him for the day... 

...then it is time to contemplate Sluggo:


See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Be an absolute bastard in just minutes!" 

"Would you like a little cheesecake with your funnybook-readin', boys?" 

Woo boy, that's a long'un. Ad from Justice Comics #5 (Sept. 1948)...for a little context, here's how the ad was originally placed on the page:

Note the old Slinky ad at the left hand side. And I'm about to do something horrible with that magic trick ad on the right.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"But first, we'll have a little flipper action!" 

So the other day, I saw a little bit of the Super Friends episode from which this clip was taken:

The set-up: Hawkman, Wonder Woman, and Black Vulcan are doing some work in orbit when Brainiac uses some device to cause the Earth to disappear. When the heroes notice this, they attempt to contact their teammates at the Hall of Justice. Brainiac's Legion of Doom partner the Toyman mimics Superman's voice, and sends then on a mission to a distant world.

Upon arrival at the coordinates given to them by "Superman," the trio finds no planet, but do find a black hole that sucks them in and deposits them on a world within, filled with traps set up by the Toyman.
  • When Hawkman, Wonder Woman, and Black Vulcan depart Earth's orbit for the distant planet, they just sorta fly off. They don't take a ship or anything...they just kinda hold hands and zoom off under Vulcan's lightning power. Should only take about, oh, a hundred thousand years to get there. Pack a lunch!

  • Is there a more annoying Legion of Doom member than the Toyman? How Gorilla Grodd kept from pinching this guy's head off, I have no idea.

  • And just dig this guy's smirk. SERIOUSLY:

  • I didn't watch the entire episode, but I believe the plan was to get all the heroes off-world or incapacitated or whatever, leaving the Legion of Doom free to blackmail the world and rake in the dough. And yet somehow the Toyman...the Toyman...had the resources and tech to set up a planet filled with elaborate traps and weaponry inside a black hole. (Okay, maybe Brainiac helped...but more on Brainiac in a second.)

  • And don't get me started on the "inside a black hole" business.

  • Wonder Woman trapped inside a clear plastic pinball, being bounced from bumper to bumper, is a fetish for someone, I'm sure. Thus, these pictures:

    Hello, internet traffic!

  • "WONDER WOMAN IN THE HOLE!" sounds a lot dirtier than it is.

    "But first, we'll have a little flipper action!" is as dirty as it sounds.

    Hello again, internet traffic!

  • Black Vulcan says, when being pursued by the Wonder Woman pinball, that the gravity of this world is to heavy to allow them to fly. Except in the scenes prior to and after this clip, when he flies.

  • Also, during that first attempt, Black Vulcan zips up into the sky, then comes back, saying the black hole won't even let out light. Not that we're dealing with hard, accurate science here or anything...but how is the Toyman getting that transmission from the black hole planet?

  • Okay, now Brainiac...I caught a bit near the end of the episode (not in the above clip), when the villains, having apparently disposed of Earth's heroes, are working in an air traffic control tower, directing in their planes full of money! Says Brainiac over the radio to one plane: "You are cleared to land...as long as you're carrying ten million dollars!"

    Now, Brainiac is a machine from another planet, whose deal is flying around and shrinking and stealing cities. What's he doing, stealing money on Earth? Seems a little...beneath him, somehow. I suppose it's possible he's stuck on Earth and needs the scratch, or he's just being a good teammate. But it just feels like Brainiac's slumming, really.

  • The animation is typical Super Friends -- i.e. awful -- but the shot of the Grand Canyon at the end of the clip is nice. And I gotta be honest...that voice for Superman is damn near iconic, and I like it a lot more than some of the voices for animated Supermen we've received recently.

Also seen recently: my very first exposure to the '90s Hulk cartoon, featuring the voice work of Mark Hamill as the Gargoyle, Matt Frewer as the Leader, and, most brilliantly, Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. Hulk encounters monsters in the desert, mutated animals exposed to the same gamma radiation that created him, and there's a lot of mayhem and things blowing up and the Leader trying to steal the Hulk's power and it was all loud and annoying. Rick Jones (voice: Luke Perry) seemed to reflect the Peter David culturally-aware version of the character from the comics, somewhat, if only that Jones makes a minor pop culture reference (to "Trekkers") during the course of the story.

Ultimately, though, it didn't do much for me. Just too loud and shrill for my tastes. NOT BUY.

Another cartoon caught for the first time was the Fantastic Four cartoon from a couple of years back. I remember seeing the character designs, and thinking they looked awful at the time...seeing everything in action, the character appearances began to grow on me a bit, aside from Johnny's Heat Miser hair. The plot's one we've seen one or thrice in the funnybooks before, where Doom manages to switch his mind with Reed, thus gaining control of his body and causing hijinks to ensue. Done about as well as one could expect.

I also caught a couple of episodes of the '90s Spider-Man cartoon, which took one of the greatest Spider-Man stories of all time and crapped it up to the point where any and all emotional impact is completely gone. The bit of that Wikipedia article which notes "the only difference [between the cartoon and the original story] being the boy was changed to a girl" is a lie, forgetting to mention the Doctor Octopus/Madame Web/Spidey being brainwashed/sassy Caribbean taxi driver plot points that were squeezed in.

Also, at one point we hear a television news broadcast stating that Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus have teamed up to wreak havoc on the city, and it was then I realized that the TV news in the Marvel Universe must be a lot like having professional wrestling on all the time.

And that's enough of watching these silly kids' cartoons. I'm going back to watching my Land of the Lost DVDs.

Monday, September 08, 2008

As per Rich Johnston


"'FX,' the series by Wayne Osbourne and John Byrne from IDW, saw its last issue drop out of the Top 300, selling in the low four figures and many issues sit, alone and unloved on shop shelves or 50c back issue bins.

"This is an excellent opportunity for speculators to clean up. At some point we are due a John Byrne revival in the next ten years, and this recent work will be so much rarer than his better-selling Big Two work. Also, 'FX' is prime for a movie adaptation, someone taking the basic idea and making a film around it.

"So this is a long term speculation. Pick up whatever copies of 'FX' you can, cheap. Stick them in the basement. And wait. Making a 20x return on your investment is not inconceivable."

The unrelenting hellish existence of funny animals. 





from Peter Pig #6 (August 1953)

Sunday, September 07, 2008


from Supermouse, The Big Cheese #38 (Feb. 1957)

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